In last week’s blog we looked at some of the mistaken ideas people have about Japan and Japanese prices. Generally, I find a teacher’s salary is more than sufficient to live well, eat well, drink well and play well, with a bit left over to save.
The average salary for a teacher in Japan is the princely sum of 250,000 Yen a month. Admittedly, things have changed somewhat recently, and many entry-level teachers are now receiving salaries of a mere 220,000 Yen a month. For the majority, however, 1/4 million yen a month remains the benchmark. Where does that money go? And can you boost your earnings in any way?
250,000 Yen: The Breakdown
- ￥25,000 Tax (roughly 4% income tax and 6% local tax, although these figures are variable)
- ￥20,000 Health insurance (this depends on whether your employer provides this or not, but the average fee is around 20,000￥ per month)
- ￥60,000 Rent (again, massively variable depending on room size, location, and subsidies)
- ￥35,000 Food (eating well costs a bit in Japan, but it’s worth it)
- ￥10,000 Bills (gas, electricity and water – again, depends on how much you use these things)
- ￥10,000 Other fees (Internet, TV, mobile phone etc.)
- ￥20,000 Eating and drinking out/Entertainment
- ￥10,000 Transport fees (depending on whether you use public transport, or run a car or bike)
- ￥10,000 Extras (inevitable but indefinable extras)
- Total expenses: ￥200,000
What you need to know
Ok, these are some fairly generic stats and allow only a frugal way of life. I think inevitably life in Japan is a bit more costly than the above. On top of the necessities are costs related to your hobbies and interests, whether that’s buying every variant of the Fender Japan Strat (from Sunburst to Cherry Red), or blowing it all on a ringside seat at a Sumo tournament.
The overall picture is fairly positive, though, and by most people’s accounts the 250,000￥ salary is enough to live on, leaving something over for savings or a return ticket home.
How you can save money
I’m more of a fan of living life than saving money, so I don’t advocate any of these methods particularly, but the following can help you to save money in Japan.
It’s quite easy to find a person to share the room expenses. This can cut your rent, and space, in half.
Some employers are generous enough to subsidise apartment fees, or provide housing for their teachers for a small fee.
Eat like a local
Abandon your western ways and get used to a diet of natto, rice and tofu. If you want to eat on the cheap, you have to adapt to the local food.
All work and no play
Eating and drinking out is expensive here. It’s easy to drop four or five thousand yen (£30+) in one night on beer alone. Cut back on this and you can save a fair chunk of money.
Two wheels, no motor
This is one method of saving money I definitely recommend (thus annulling my comments at the start of this section). Cycling is a great way to get around. It’s quick, environmentally friendly, and free. Get!
My final tip for saving money is this: don’t live in Tokyo. There’s a reason why Tokyo is in the world’s top three most expensive cities… it eats money like Takeru Kobayashi eats sushi.
A countryside town is the place for you if you want to save your standard teacher’s salary.
In the next blog…
Disagree with my summary of the expenses in Japan? Do you have another tip about saving or spending money in Nippon? Leave a comment below!
Thursday’s blog will detail how you can earn extra money, and conclude the feature on an English Teacher’s Salary in Japan.