Salaries in Japan remain some of the highest in the ESL market, but the cost of living in Japan is also generally above average. With salaries typically starting at ¥190,000 - ¥300,000 per month, and with a population of 128 million citizens, Japan will continue to be a top pick for TESOL/TESL/TEFL graduates.
Living and Teaching in Japan
As with Anywhere in the world, various factors influence the cost of housing in Japan, including city, neighborhood, and size. Tokyo and Osaka have more expensive rental costs when compared to other Japanese cities. Employers may provide partially subsidized or fully paid apartments; however, English teachers should be prepared to pay part or all of the rent. The cost of rent in Tokyo and Osaka can range from ¥70,000 - ¥120,000 per month for a 1LDK, while the rent in smaller cities can be substantially cheaper. LDK is used to identify whether the house has a living room (L), dining area (D), or kitchen (K). Additional costs may include key money, security/damage deposit, real estate fee, and utilities. Key money is approximately two to five times the monthly rent and is a gratuity paid to the building manager or property owner. There is a possibility of getting a percentage of the gratuity back once the tenant moves out; however this depends on how much the building manager or property owner must replace and upgrade the unit. Note that employers who provide English teachers with accommodations will most likely pay the key money.
ESL teachers should know banks are only open from Monday to Friday, 9:00am - 3:00pm. Cash is still the preferred form of currency exchange in Japan, so checking accounts are rarely used. However, credit cards are becoming more accepted in major cities. Teachers wanting to exchange money can do so at most local post offices or Authorized Foreign Exchange Banks. Unlike most Western countries, ATMs are not open 24 hours and the operating hours can vary from one institution to the next. That said, convenience store ATMs are usually open 24/7, but may have higher banking fees. Also, banks and ATMs are rarely open on holidays which can be inconvenient for foreigners.
The following table provides ESL teachers with the approximate costs of food in Japan. As a whole, it is cheaper to eat Japanese food rather than to purchase American-style food or to eat at American-style restaurants.
- Average restaurant meal: (/person)
Cheap - ¥1,000
Medium - ¥1,000 - ¥4,000
Expensive - ¥4,000+
- 10 eggs - ¥200
- Litre of milk - ¥220
- Bowl of noodles - ¥400
- Six slices of white bread - ¥160
- 6 pack of beer: ¥1,500
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