Live in Tokyo

Photo: Greir /


Great things about living in Tokyo

Tokyo’s beauty comes from its four distinctive seasons that color the city with different ambience and create a wonderful atmosphere any time of year. The temperature ranges from about 21-32°C during the summer time and 2-11°C in the winter. The weather is even more pleasant when you go out to one of the numerous parks in the central part of the city.

The seasonal offering is complemented with rich culinary experiences – Tokyo has more Michelin three star restaurants than anywhere else in the world, more than double the number of Paris (which had 5 as of the as of 2014). The cuisine is not only limited to high-end styles, either, as Tokyo boasts the best in casual selections from literally all over the world. You can enjoy standards like Japanese, Italian, and Chinese, or go more exotic with choices spanning everything from Brazilian to even Moroccan.

As far as daily-to-day life in Tokyo, the vast network of 24-hours convenience stores is worth checking out. You will find a convenience store on just about every block in the city, and while each on is only about 100-150 square meters in size, they carry 2,500 different products – everything from toiletries, to food (both instant and fresh), stationary, magazines, even clothing.

Tokyo maintains one of the lowest crime rates in the world. The murder rate is 0.9 per 100,000 compared to 5.1/100,000 in London or 8.4/100,000 in San Francisco.

Things you should know when moving to Tokyo

  1. Public transportation is extremely reliable and cheap. Roads are very narrow and always crowded, so you don’t even want to think about trying to drive to work for your daily commute.
  2. Taxis are expensive. Just a short ride of about 5km (3.5 miles) will set you back about $20 USD!
  3. Thanks to the extremely low crime rate, it is basically no problem to walk around by yourself wherever you want at night, for both men and women.
  4. If you are not Japanese, it is hard to establish a sense of being a real “local resident.”
  5. It is ok to drink in public.
  6. Japan used to be a big smoking country until 10 years ago. Back then, you could smoke anywhere you wanted, but these days most restaurants and buildings prohibit smoking except in designated smoking areas.
  7. Public transportation is very easy to use and efficient. The only catch is that it can get extremely crowded during peak hours (7-9 a.m. and 5-7 p.m.). In some cases, there are people working in subway stations just to cram people into packed trains. It’s THAT bad.
  8. It sounds ridiculous, but sexual harassment can be a problem on busy trains (with men trying to touch women’s behinds, etc.). To prevent this, some train companies set up “women only” train car during rush hour. Actually, if you don’t read Japanese it might be hard to tell which train car is for women, but if you are a non-Japanese man accidentally riding in the women’s train car, it is embarrassing, but Japanese people will understand you are making an innocent mistake.
  9. Japan is probably one of the most expensive places to travel, but after experiencing intermittent deflation for the past 20 years, there are now many restaurants and shops with low prices.
  10. Everything are super clean and organized, as you will see as soon as you set foot inside a convenience store. Japanese people definitely like to keep things neat and tidy.


Cost of  living in Tokyo

Milk (1L) JPY 195.50
Eggs (dozen)JPY 263.38
Rice (1kg)JPY 458.33
Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro) JPY 440

Rent per month
Apartment (1 bedroom) in the center of the city JPY 135,000
Apartment (3 bedroom) in the center of the city JPY 316,428

Median House Price
Condo studio/1 bedroom JPY 16,932,100
2 bedroom JPY 18,378,300


Best place to live in Tokyo

Minato Ward has always been regarded as the best neighborhood in Tokyo. This is the place where people with money want to live. Especially in areas called Azabu, Hiroo, Akasaka, Aoyama, and Shirogane, you can find nice, cozy, safe, and also luxurious neighborhoods that are especially popular among foreign bankers and diplomats in Tokyo. Most of the Michelin star restaurants and luxury shops are located in those areas.

If you want to avoid central Tokyo’s hustle and bustle, and wish to reside a bit outside of the center and enjoy more space and privacy, a number of less conspicuous wealthy people are nestled in Daikanyama. It is popular destination for young twentysomethings to go shopping or out for some romantic dining, but it is also where real rich people hide out.

Meguro, Nakameguro, and Ebisu are popular destinations for high-class young singles and young couples.

Meguro Ward and Setagaya Ward are popular residential areas for families looking for upper class, quiet neighborhoods that are still close to central Tokyo.

Chuo Ward / Minato Ward / Chiyoda Ward / Shinagawa Ward
These districts are especially hot for investment purposes. All of these areas are located in the city center with potential population growth. Plus, redevelopment projects (new stations and other development for Summer Olympic Games in 2020) are helping drive property appreciation in these areas.


Worst place to live in Tokyo

Japan is one of the safest if countries in the world and that applies to the capital city of Tokyo as well.
Unlike other major cities, Tokyo doesn’t really have any dangerous “bad neighborhoods” and it is basically safe for both men and women to walk around alone at night.

Although, there are some areas that have a bad reputation for being less nice and for having somewhat higher crime rates or lower ratings for their schools.

Adachi Ward and surrounding area has been said one of the worst areas to live. I have actually lived there without knowing that when I was younger but personally, I never had a problem or saw anything bad happening. However, people still say to “Avoid living in Adachi Ward,” so, when considering reselling your property, it is wise to take that advice.

Especially for families with children, you should avoid getting a place in one of Tokyo’s ultra-busy areas such as Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, Shibuya, and Roppongi. Those are the busiest places and they are always jam-packed with many people all the time. Such areas do have higher crime rates as well, such as minor assaults involving drunk people making trouble. Although, for young people who want to live close to all the bars, restaurants and all the excitement happening in the heart of Tokyo, those are ideal places to enjoy life in Japan.


Great schools in Tokyo

Local Schools in Tokyo

There are no resources available that give a ranking of local public elementary schools in Tokyo. However, the following is the ranking that shows which areas of Tokyo have the highest standard of education.

Areas in Tokyo that have the highest educational standards:

  1. BunkyoWard
  2. Musashino City
  3. Chiyoda Ward
  4. Suginami Ward
  5. Kunitachi City
  6. Koganei City
  7. Shinagawa Ward
  8. Setagaya Ward
  9. Kokubunji City
  10. MitakaCity

Source: Family survey conducted by

Note: Although it is legally possible to go to Japanese public school regardless of children’s Japanese ability, it will be extremely difficult to catch up classes if your child is not a Japanese speaker, since everything is taught only in Japanese. If you want your child to learn in Japanese public school, it is highly recommended to start sending your child to Japanese school at the age of six years old or younger (Grade 1 or earlier).

International schools in Tokyo

If your child is not a Japanese speaker and older than 8 or 9, it is much better to choose international school. There are numbers of international schools available in Tokyo and surrounding area including American, Indian, and Chinese international schools.

The popular, well-established international schools in Tokyo are:

  • American School in Japan
  • St. Mary’s International School
  • Nishimachi International School

If you are looking for a Chinese school, Yokohama Yamate Chinese School is located in Yokohama City, right next to Tokyo.


Top Universities in Tokyo

Because the entrance exams for private universities are not the same as the ones for public (national) universities, it is hard to compare theme directly in the same ranking. The following are the top public and private universities in Tokyo.

Top public universities in Tokyo:

University of Tokyo (ranked #23 in the world)
Tokyo Institute of Technology (ranked #141 in the world)
Tokyo Medical and Dental University

Top Private universities in Tokyo:

Keio University
Waseda University
Juntendo University
Tokyo University of Science
Sophia University (aka Jochi University)
Chuo University
Meiji University
Rikkyo University
Aoyama Sakuin University
Gakushuin University

Source: 大学偏差値.biz
Note: Level of each university differs from major to major. There are other great schools in Tokyo as well, depending on what major you choose.