Top 14 Cities To Live In Japan For Expats

Top 14 Cities To Live In Japan For Expats

06 June 2024Jon Ng

Planning to move to Japan? Here are the best Cities To Live In Japan For Expats!

Japan, the ground of the rising sun, is also known for its fascinating beauty, diversity in culture and is one of the safest countries to live in.

This country is a popular destination for tourists as it has a mild climate, magnificent mountains, sacred temples & shrines, attractive beaches, and many cultural activities.

Most cities in Japan are home to many foreigners. Some of them are here for working or studying purposes, while some live as permanent residents.

But, when you plan to move here or try to find a city that will meet your interest, it’s become a challenge to choose the right one.

Well, don’t worry, as I have listed some of the best cities to live in Japan, which I prefer the most.

I have selected these places in terms of safety, affordability, neighborhood livability and to save you from asking the question, “Where to live in Japan?”

Whether you take your whole family or go alone, you are going to have a blast in this cool yet humble country.

Best Japanese Cities to Live in For Expats

Japan is a developed country with 47 prefectures, and each of them has its own kind of charm and beauty.

Although living expenses in some cities are high, you will also find few where it’s affordable.

From here, I will share every piece of information you need to know regarding these cities.

Tokyo: The Capital City

Cost of Living  $1280 – $4425 (140,800 JPY – 489,250 JPY)
Area 847 mi²
Estimated Population  37,194,000

Although Tokyo is known for being expensive and crowded, it is still one of the best cities to live in Japan.

For immigrants who have limited Japanese skills, it is one of the most approachable places in the whole country.

Cities To Live In Japan For Expats

You will find English-speaking staff at train stations, government offices, clinics, and other institutions.

So, if you get lost as a newbie, you can find your path with the help of the staff.

You will find lots of convenience stores, restaurants, nightclubs, and other fun places to do cool things.


Tokyo is placed at the head of Tokyo Bay and consists of over 500 global companies.

There are even many opportunities to seek a job in Tokyo, especially if you are willing to use your English or other language proficiency.

Though it is a highly populated urban area, you won’t miss enjoying the beautiful and charming nature.


You will find adventurous hiking trails, various parks, exciting activities like go-karting, and many more places to add spice to your daily life.

As I already mentioned that living costs in this capital city are pretty expensive, but the good thing is, finding apartments is relatively easy in Tokyo compared to other global cities.

You will find plenty of companies who help foreigners to seek accommodation.

Pros of living in Tokyo

  • Many shopping and entertainment centers.
  • High-quality education.
  • Unique and exciting living experience.
  • More job scopes for foreigners from part-time to full-time.

Cons of living in Tokyo

  • A highly crowded city from public trains, buses to local visiting places.
  • Food prices and accommodation costs are higher than average in Japan.


Cost of Living  $937 - $2531
Area 106.9 mi²
Estimated Population  367,353

The special feature of Nara City in Japan is the preservation of historical treasures. Buddhist temples, Shinto Shrines, the Former Imperial Palace-Heij Palace, museums, and many more can be found within the city. 

Moreover, the minimum cost of living in Nara is estimated at $937 and ranked 904th out of 907 in Japan. The most costly part of the budget is transportation, which is ranked 77th out of 907 and estimated at $102 per person. 

If you are concerned about the job opportunities then there is not that much to worry about since there are occupations you might get, especially when you browse online. 


  • ● Nara City is one of the leading agricultural producers. 
  • ● One of the assets of Nara city is its tourism, because of its natural and historical heritage.
  • ● Deer are also popular in Nara City. They believe that they are protecting the city. 

Osaka: Enjoy Friendly Atmosphere

Cost of Living  $1296 - $3452
Area 86.1 mi²
Estimated Population  19,013,000

Osaka is one of the most renowned cities after Tokyo. Many expats consider living here because of its friendly and warm surroundings.

This city is the economic center of Kansai, where many other renowned districts are located.


One noteworthy thing is that it will be harder for you to communicate with Japanese people here with limited language skills than in Tokyo.

So what!! Right?

You will have a huge opportunity to develop your language skill which is beneficial in the long run.

If you are a foodie from the heart, you will enjoy living here because Osaka is also popular for its fantastic food.

In this city, you will find many Indian, French, Thai, and other overseas restaurants.

Osaka Castle

The cost of living in Osaka is lower than Tokyo by 30% but has fewer job scopes.

When it comes to weather, Osaka has mild winters and brutal summers.

So, it’s not the ideal city for those who can’t stand the heat.

But, if you don’t mind the high temperature and humidity, it might be your ideal home sweet home.

Pros of living in Osaka

  • One of the foreigner-friendly places in Japan.
  • It is close to the city of Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe.
  • Lower living expenses than Tokyo.

Cons of living in Osaka

  • Hot and humid weather in summer.
  • Not as modern as Tokyo.
  • Relatively fewer job options than in the capital city.

Kyoto: Cheap living cost

Cost of Living  $1226 - $3251
Area 319.6 mi²
Estimated Population  2.56 million

When asking, which is the safest city in Japan, many will answer Kyoto.

If you like to witness the traditional form of Japan with a touch of the modern age, this city is the perfect example for you.


While this city carries the rich history of Japan, it also has modern transportation, technological advancement, and local amenities.

Kyoto is an excellent residential alternative for people who are looking to spend less money for livelihood.

Now, Do you have a fascination with traditional Japanese cuisine?


Well, you can fulfill your much-awaited desire in Kyoto, as this city has around 108 Michelin-starred restaurants.

Also, you will find lots of young people here because various universities, along with Kyoto University, are located in this area.

Pros of living in Kyoto

  • Represents traditional Japan in the current age.
  • Way cheaper living expenses than the other cities.
  • Many colleges and universities.
  • Easy to travel by train, subway, or taxi.

Cons of living in Kyoto

  • Not many shopping centers and nightclubs.
  • This city is prone to occasional tsunamis and earthquakes.

KAWASAKI CITY In The Kanagawa prefecture 

Cost of Living 
$1105 - $3201
Area 55.73 mi²
Estimated Population  1,531,646

This city is famous for sports bikes and motorcycles, which means this city is good for those people who are eager to find a job, mainly those engineers because it is way more practical for obtaining a stable income. 

Numerous companies and industries could offer you great positions when you have a degree and license. It is a desirable city to live in for housing and real estate. 

Transportation would not be your problem in Kawasaki when you have vehicles. It could lower your budget expenses. To generalize the cost of living in Kawasaki, it would probably cost around $1107 per month for a person.

Considering the opportunities you could achieve in Kawasaki and the cost of living, plus the stunning scenery in this city that you could see and experience, this city could pass your satisfaction standard. 


  • There are seven wards in this city, which is good for accessibility for the people
  • It is one of the greatest cities if you are a sporty person since it has many athletic stadiums and gymnasiums. 
  • This city is precise for business opportunities because there is a concentration of global enterprises and development institutes. 

Fukuoka: City of Attractive Places

Cost of Living  $1316 - $3476
Area 132.58 mi²
Estimated Population  5,490,271

Fukuoka is positioned on the north shore of Kyushu Island and has a large population, yet less crowded than the other cities.

Fukuoka Night

It is one of the most beautiful places to live in Japan, with beaches, festivals, temples & shrines, gardens, Fukuoka Castle, zoo, and galleries.

From rich nightlife to shopping centers, Fukuoka has it all.

What’s even better is that you will find several companies that support and give services to a start-up business.

Numerous international students come here for education purposes.

shrine in Fukuoka

Hence, if you are here to study, you won’t feel lonely.

This city has excellent culinary cuisine, mainly specialized in spicy cod roe and pork stock ramen.

Pros of living in Fukuoka

  • Less earthquake-prone.
  • This city is closer to Korea.
  • More than 20,000 expats live here.
  • Many opportunities for start-up or entrepreneurship.

Cons of living in Fukuoka

  • More rainfall average per year.

Yokohama: Close to The Sea & Modern Districts

Cost of Living  $1555 - $3781
Area 168.9 mi²
Estimated Population  3,809,436

If you want to stay in a big city without feeling suffocated, Yokohama is a great option.

The streets and sidewalks here are much wider. Even the transportation is easier.

Suppose you work in Tokyo but want to live in Yokohama as the accommodation is cheaper here, will it be convenient?

Of course!!


It only takes 30 minutes to reach Tokyo from Yokohama by train.

So, you can save money by living while still working in the capital city.

Yet, remember that commuting to Tokyo often will result in a lot of money spent on transport.


Yokohama was occupied by the Americans during world war II and the Korean war.

It has good financial growth and is prominent as a sporting venue.

Yokohama Sunset

Shipping, the semiconductor industry, and biotechnology companies are the reason for this city’s economy to thrive.

Also, it is the home of Nissan’s headquarters.

So, finding a job is not a big deal here.

That’s why it is perceived to be one of the best places to live in Japan as an American or foreigner.

Pros of living in Yokohama

  • Easy access to Tokyo.
  • Close to many modern districts.
  • Economically prosperous.
  • Affordable living.

Cons of living in Yokohama

  • The climate becomes excessively cold during winter.
  • Language barrier.

Sapporo: Mild Weather in Summer

Cost of Living  $1143 - $2855
Area 433 mi²
Estimated Population  2,669,000

Sapporo is famous for its snow festivals featuring large ice sculptures. The economy of this city depends on industries, manufacturing, retail, technology, and tourism.

The best part of living in Sapporo is their moderate weather.

Sapporo cityscape

The city has many attractive parks, museums, and historic buildings that will remind you of the genuine beauty of Japan.

A perfect mixture of relaxation and pleasure!!

The view of this city gets more phenomenal from April to May because of the cherry blossoms.

So, if you are planning to move with your beloved one, you can find countless romantic places for a special day out.

Sapporo's snowy roof

Sapporo is also known for Miso ramen, fresh fish, snow festivals, and winter sports.


Sapporo Dome stadium hosted three games during FIFA World Cup 2002, Germany vs. Saudi Arabia, Italy vs. Ecuador, and Argentina vs. England.

The 1972 winter Olympics took place in this city.

Pros of living in Sapporo

  • Around 30% lower living costs than Osaka & Tokyo.
  • Gentle climate.
  • Employment chance in IT, sales, and marketing.

Cons of living in Sapporo

  • Temperature goes under 0 degrees Celsius in winter.

Saitama: Excellent Urban Environment

Cost of Living  $1133 - $3331
Area 83.95 mi²
Estimated Population  1,324,854

Traveling around the streets of Saitama is extremely safe, as most of the cities in Japan are.

Besides, this city holds over 150,000 immigrants.

Cherry blossoms at Kawagoe City, Saitama

Saitama’s economy relies on commercial business. Most of them are based on product manufacturing, including optical goods, food, and automotive.

This town is about 15 to 30 kilometers from Tokyo, an ideal location for urban commuters.

It has multiple tourist attractions such as the historic castle town of Kawagoe, the huge Tobu Zoo, the Railway Museum, mountains in Chichibu, tranquil tea fields in Sayama.

Yokose River, Saitama, Japan

Now, have you ever seen a frozen waterfall?

If not, you can watch it for the first time here.

The Misotsuchi no Tsurara is such a waterfall on the Arakawa river below Mount Buko, in the region of Chichibu, that is illuminated in January and February and draws the attention of tourists.

Overall, this is one of the best prefectures to live in Japan.

Pros of living in Saitama

  • This area has one of the lowest natural disaster rates in Japan.
  • Expats pleasant surroundings.
  • Career opportunities in production-based companies.

Cons of living in Saitama

  • Not as modern as Tokyo.

Nagoya: For Peaceful Lifestyle

Cost of Living  $1379 - $4752
Area 126 mi²
Estimated Population  9,572,000

Nagoya is located between Tokyo and Osaka. It is recognized as a center of political and economic development.

Do you know what Nagoya means?


It refers to “peaceful,” and that’s why people choose to live here.

When the name itself is giving you inner peace, what else can go wrong!!

Even the history of this great place is an inspiration to people.

Although Nagoya suffered from World War II air raids, it has recovered following the war. It has fertile Isa Bay and Nobi plain that helps to produce vegetables.

It is the home of arts and crafts company “Ando Cloisonne” and confectionary company “Marukowa.”

Walking Path along side Nagoya Castle in Nagoya

If you are worried about your kids' education, then be informed that there are various international schools in Nagoya for your children to attend.

While being a big city, the town made an effort to preserve numerous cultural heritage sites.

Port of Nagoya Public Aquarium, Nagoya Castle, Higashiyama Zoo & Botanical Garden, Atsuta Jingu Shrine are some visiting places that you can go to spend your leisure time.

Pros of living in Nagoya

  • Plenty of aviation, technology, retail and ceramic companies.
  • Home of over 140,000 expats.

Cons of living in Nagoya

  • Job facilities are lower than in other cities.

Okayama: Large Agriculture Industry

Cost of Living  $1113 - $2830
Area 305 mi²
Estimated Population  723,000

Since 1889, Okayama town has been a major center of the agricultural industry in Japan.

Some of the crops that grow here are rice, chives, grapes, eggplant, and white peaches.

Garden in Okayama

Even the weather is warm enough to support olive trees.

Besides, it has machine tools, printing, and chemical industries.

You will find private English language schools here, so providing international standard education won’t be an issue.

Summer Rice Fields in Okayama

It has the most rain-free days in Japan compared to other cities. That’s the reason Okayama is often called the “Land of Sunshine.”

So, if you are a fan of the rainy season, Okayama is not the town you should live in.

Pros of living in Okayama

  • The city has several shopping arcades that families enjoy.
  • Agriculture-centric economy.

Cons of living in Okayama

  • Lack of free wifi in the public area.

Naha: The Capital of Okinawa Island

Cost of Living  $1646 - $3037
Area 15.44 mi²
Estimated Population  321,000

Naha is the ideal place to enjoy a summer-like atmosphere. While living here, you can easily access the food markets and beaches on foot.

Naha, Okinawa, Japan Cityscape at Dawn

Hence, you don’t need to go miles to buy your daily groceries, and you can have fun on beaches whenever you want.

You also have the chance to rent a car when public transports become limited.

Another advantage is the low cost of living.

Do you remember that Okayama has less rainfall?

Well, if you are in the team of rainy season lovers, Naha is the right place for you.

Okinawa Monorail in Naha

This city has more rainfall than most other places in Japan. So, you can witness the beauty of rain with a cup of coffee on your balcony and appreciate the cool breeze.

Pros of loving in Naha

  • Political, education, and economic center of Okinawa district.
  • Mild Winter.
  • Several shops are available around.

Cons of loving in Naha

  • Most of the street signs are in the Japanese language

Sendai: Known for Festivals

Cost of Living  $1128 - $2869
Area 303.4 mi²
Estimated Population  2,340,000

Recently the cost of apartments in Sendai has been growing, but still, it is one of the best places to live in Japan for foreigners.

Public transportation is relatively good here but not as advanced as in larger cities.

Autumn foliage in Sendai, Japan

You will have to take more buses than trains while living in this town.

Winters here are cold and snowy, and you can make your own Olaf in front of your house!!

You can also play with snowballs and can bring out your childlike nature.

Tanabata Festival in Sendai city

But what you will enjoy the most is the local festivals.

Dontosai festival, Sendai Aoba Festival, Sendai Pageant of Starlight, Sendai Hatsuuri Sale, Sendai Tanabata are some of the famous celebrations of this town.

Pros of living in Sendai

  • Housing costs are less in Sendai.
  • Various local festivals.
  • The economy relies on the retail and service industry.

Cons of living in Sendai

  • Few subways.

Kobe: One of the Most Vibrant City In Japan

Cost of Living  $1322 - $3362
Area 213.2 mi²
Estimated Population  1.5 million

Kobe, situated on the island of Honshu, is a beautiful port town surrounded by mountains.

Mount Rokko in Kobe Japan

This city has a lively aura that makes people relax and calm even on hectic days.

It has two man-made islands along with Mount Rokko and Mount Maya.

Mount Rokko, also known as Rokko-san, is one of the main attractions in Kobe.

Kobe Port Island

You can walk up to the mountain or take a cable car to reach the top.

However, nothing can beat their foodstuff, especially Kobe Beef. And, I suggest you at least try it if you end up living there.

Pros of living in Kobe

  • Outsider-friendly atmosphere.
  • The variety of food is great.
  • Many fascinating tourist places.

Cons of living in Kobe

  • Summer is hot in Kobe but not as bad as in Tokyo.

Anyway, if you plan to move to Japan for a living purpose, you need to stay in the countryside or the city.

Which one is more convenient?

And that’s what I am going to discuss now.

Where do most expats live in Japan?

Most expats living in Japan choose to live in the cities and surrounding areas of Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. 

The three cities are the most popular hubs for expats in the country and offer a wide range of job opportunities, Japanese language schools, and shopping and entertainment facilities. 

Tokyo is the largest of the cities and it is home to a large and diverse expat population from all corners of the world. 

Osaka and Nagoya, both located in the south of the country, are smaller but still offer plenty of advantages for expatriates living in Japan. 

Expats living in other parts of the country often choose the intimate and attractive university towns of Kyoto and Kobe or the vibrant resort town of Hokkaido.

What are the best prefectures to live in Japan for foreigners?

The best prefectures to live in Japan for foreigners depend largely on one's individual preferences and lifestyle - whether they're looking for a bustling cityscape, a peaceful countryside, or something in between. 

Some of the most popular choices for foreigners to live in Japan include Tokyo and its neighboring prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba, as well as Kyoto, Nagasaki and Osaka. 

Each of these prefectures offers an array of sights, sounds, and experiences that are sure to captivate visitors and natives alike. 

Ultimately, the best prefecture to live in Japan for foreigners is one that allows them to explore their interests and savor the incredible culture of Japan.

Choosing The Best Japanese City To Live In For You

While choosing between urban and rural, you need to consider it depending on your needs.


Like any other country in the world, Japan's cities have the most diversity in terms of jobs.

You will have more opportunities in the town than in a rural area.

For the outsider, professions in IT, Sales, Service, teaching, engineering, banking, and manufacturing are mostly available in cities.

Yet, you will find a job in the countryside too, but the career variations will be fewer.

Language Barrier

Small town peoples have difficulty communicating in the English language compared with big cities.

In this sense, Tokyo is the most English-friendly city in Japan. In addition, many companies in the town have English translation facilities.

Hence, if your knowledge of the Japanese language is not good, you need to stay in the city.

However, if you already can communicate in the Japanese language, you won’t face any problem living in the countryside.

In fact, you will have more scope to experience authentic Japanese culture in rural areas.

Accessibility & Transportation Facility

The established cities like Tokyo, Osaka, and others have a reliable transport system.

You will find an extensive bus network, plenty of subway lines, and trains.

And, if you choose to own a car, your main problem will be traffic and parking availability.

Indeed, you have to present proof of permanent parking space before you buy a car in Tokyo.

On the other hand, a car or personal vehicle is a necessity in the countryside. There, you will have less public transport and have to rely on your own vehicle to go to grocery stores and even train stations.

And, If you are not into driving, you should avoid rural areas. But, if you are a fan of road trips and pleasant scenarios, then the countryside is heaven for you.

Rent and Living Cost

Daily living expenses are higher in cities than in the village. From house rent to food, groceries and transport cost is highly expensive in cities.

So, it totally depends on your financial status, on where you should live.

As Japan is an advanced country, you will not face any major problems no matter where you stay.

One thing is sure that the rent and living cost is unpredictable, as it depends on your lifestyle.

You can even find a low-cost apartment in cities if you are lucky enough.

Well, I have nothing to add on my todays’ discussion.

Let’s call it an end here.


You already got all the essential information about which are the best cities to live in Japan.

It is one of the low crime-rated countries in the whole world and ensures high-end safety to locals and outsiders.

And, finally, I hope my writing will help you find your sweet home.

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