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Expat Exchange - Cost of Living in Sendai 2024
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Cost of Living in Sendai

By Betsy Burlingame

William Russell
William Russell

Summary: Understanding the the cost of living in Sendai helps a newcomer what to expect when it comes to apartment or house hunting, grocery shopping, transportation, dining out, utilities and more.

Category Cost
Apartment Rentals A one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Sendai costs around 60,000 to 80,000 JPY per month. A similar apartment outside the city center costs around 40,000 to 60,000 JPY per month. A three-bedroom apartment in the city center costs around 120,000 to 160,000 JPY per month, while the same outside the city center costs around 80,000 to 120,000 JPY per month.
Apartment Purchases The price per square meter to buy an apartment in the city center is around 400,000 to 600,000 JPY. Outside the city center, the price per square meter is around 200,000 to 400,000 JPY.
Transportation A monthly pass for public transportation costs around 10,000 to 15,000 JPY. The starting tariff for a normal taxi is around 600 to 800 JPY, with an additional 300 to 400 JPY per kilometer.
Groceries The average cost for a liter of milk is around 200 JPY, a loaf of fresh white bread is around 150 JPY, a dozen eggs cost around 200 JPY, and a kilogram of local cheese is around 1,000 JPY. Fruits and vegetables vary in price, but on average, a kilogram of apples is around 500 JPY, a kilogram of bananas is around 200 JPY, and a kilogram of tomatoes is around 400 JPY.
Restaurants A meal at an inexpensive restaurant costs around 800 to 1,000 JPY. A three-course meal for two people at a mid-range restaurant costs around 4,000 to 6,000 JPY. A combo meal at a fast food restaurant costs around 700 to 900 JPY.
Utilities Basic utilities for an 85m2 apartment, including electricity, heating, cooling, water, and garbage, cost around 10,000 to 15,000 JPY per month. Internet connection costs around 3,000 to 5,000 JPY per month.
Private School Tuition Private school tuition varies greatly depending on the school. On average, annual tuition for a private preschool is around 800,000 to 1,200,000 JPY. For a private elementary school, it's around 1,000,000 to 1,500,000 JPY. For a private middle school, it's around 1,200,000 to 1,800,000 JPY. For a private high school, it's around 1,500,000 to 2,000,000 JPY.
Please note that these are average costs and actual costs may vary depending on various factors. Also, the exchange rate at the time of conversion should be considered as these costs are given in Japanese Yen (JPY).

Monthly Budget for Retirees in Sendai

"The cost of living in Sendai, is considered moderate compared to other major cities in Japan like Tokyo or Osaka. Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can be quite affordable, while those located in the outskirts are even cheaper. The cost of utilities such as electricity, heating, cooling, and water is also reasonable.When it comes to groceries, prices can vary. Local produce and seasonal items are usually affordable, but imported goods can be more expensive. Eating out in Sendai can range from inexpensive for local cuisine to quite pricey for high-end dining.Public transportation in Sendai is efficient and reasonably priced. Monthly passes are available for regular commuters, which can help to save costs. Owning a car can be quite expensive, considering the costs of petrol, maintenance, and parking.Healthcare in Sendai, as in the rest of Japan, is of a high standard. Residents are required to enroll in a national health insurance scheme, which covers a large portion of medical expenses.Overall, while the cost of living in Sendai is not the cheapest in Japan, it is more affordable than in larger cities such as Tokyo or Osaka. The city offers a good balance between cost and quality of life," said one expat living in Sendai.

Can I live in Sendai on $1,500 a month?

"I've been living in Sendai for a few years now and I can tell you that living on $1,500 a month is possible, but it will require some careful budgeting and sacrifices. The cost of living in Sendai is lower than in Tokyo or Osaka, but it's still a city with modern amenities, so it's not exactly cheap. Rent will be your biggest expense. If you want to live in a central area like Aoba-ku or Miyagino-ku, you're looking at around $700-$800 for a small apartment. However, if you're willing to live a bit further out in areas like Izumi-ku or Taihaku-ku, you can find places for around $500-$600. Utilities including internet, water, electricity, and gas will likely cost you around $200 a month. Groceries can be a bit pricey, especially if you're buying a lot of imported goods. I spend around $300 a month on groceries, but I cook most of my meals at home. Eating out can add up quickly, a meal at a cheap restaurant will cost you around $10, but if you eat out every day, that's an extra $300 a month. Transportation is another cost to consider. A monthly pass for the subway costs around $50, but if you live and work in the city center, you might be able to get by with just a bicycle. As for sacrifices, you'll probably have to give up some luxuries. Eating out, going to bars, and other entertainment can be expensive. You might also have to live in a smaller place or in a less central area than you're used to. But overall, I think it's possible to live comfortably on $1,500 a month in Sendai if you're careful with your money," commented an expat living in Sendai.

Can I live in Sendai on $3,500 a month?

"I've been living in Sendai for a few years now and I can tell you that it's definitely possible to live comfortably on $3,000 a month, but it does require some careful budgeting and lifestyle adjustments. The cost of living in Sendai is lower than in Tokyo or Osaka, but it's still a city with modern amenities. Rent is one of the biggest expenses. If you want to live in a more affordable area, I'd recommend looking at neighborhoods like Nagamachi or Tomizawa. They're a bit further from the city center, but you can find a decent one-bedroom apartment for around $600-$700 a month. On the other hand, areas like Aoba-ku or Miyagino-ku are more expensive, with rents often exceeding $1,000 for a similar-sized apartment. Groceries can be a bit pricey, especially if you're buying a lot of imported goods. I've found that shopping at local markets and cooking at home most of the time helps to keep food costs down. Eating out can be affordable if you stick to local restaurants and avoid the more upscale places. Transportation is pretty reasonable. The subway and bus systems are efficient and not too expensive. If you live close to your work or if your work is in the city center, you might not even need a car. Healthcare is another factor to consider. Japan has a national health insurance system, and while it's not free, it's quite affordable. You'll pay about 30% of the cost of any medical treatment you receive, with the government covering the rest. As for entertainment, there are plenty of affordable or even free things to do in Sendai. There are beautiful parks, historical sites, and festivals throughout the year. If you're into nightlife, though, that can get expensive quickly. In terms of sacrifices, you might have to give up some of the luxuries you're used to. For example, if you're used to living in a large, spacious home, you'll have to adjust to a smaller living space. You might also have to cut back on eating out or going out for drinks regularly. But overall, I've found that the quality of life in Sendai is high, and it's a great place to live on a budget," said one expat living in Sendai.

Can I live in Sendai on $5,000 a month?

"I've been living in Sendai for a few years now and I can tell you that living on $5,000 a month is definitely doable, even with a taste for modern amenities. The cost of living here is lower compared to Tokyo or Osaka. Rent is one of the biggest expenses you'll have to consider. If you're looking for a more affordable neighborhood, I'd recommend Aoba-ku. It's a bit further from the city center, but it's still a nice area with plenty of shops and restaurants. You can find a decent one-bedroom apartment for around $700 to $800 a month. On the other hand, if you're looking for something more upscale, you might want to consider areas like Taihaku-ku or Miyagino-ku. These are more central and trendy, but the rent can go up to $1,500 or even more for a one-bedroom apartment. Food is another big expense, but it's quite manageable. You can eat out at a decent restaurant for around $10 to $15 per meal. If you cook at home, you can save even more. Groceries for a single person would cost around $300 to $400 a month. Transportation is pretty affordable too. A monthly pass for the subway costs around $50. If you prefer to drive, keep in mind that owning a car can be quite expensive due to the cost of parking, insurance, and gas. Other expenses like utilities, internet, and mobile phone service would cost around $200 to $300 a month. As for entertainment, there's plenty to do in Sendai without breaking the bank. There are beautiful parks, museums, and historical sites that are free or have a small entrance fee. A movie ticket costs around $15 and a gym membership is around $50 a month. So, if you add it all up, living comfortably in Sendai on $5,000 a month is definitely possible. You might have to make some sacrifices, like living a bit further from the city center or cooking at home more often, but overall, you can maintain a good quality of life," commented an expat living in Sendai.

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.


William Russell
William Russell

William Russell
William Russell

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