Cost of Living in Kyoto: A Guide

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cost of living in Kyoto, japan

Kyoto is one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations and a cultural and historical centre. The former capital of Japan is also a modern city with a vibrant economy, quality education, and entertainment. So if you plan to live and study in Kyoto, you might wonder how much it costs to live there. In this blog, we will give you an overview of the cost of living in Kyoto based on the average prices of various expenses in October 2023. Read on to find out!


Also Read: Cost of Living in Tokyo: A Guide

Why Choose Kyoto to Study Abroad?

Due to the cost of living in Kyoto being more affordable than its Japanese counterparts like Tokyo and Osaka, students choose this city as a study abroad destination. Apart from this, here are some other reasons that attract students to pursue higher studies in Kyoto:

  1. Kyoto has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere for international students. One can enjoy the beauty and charm of the city, as well as its cuisine, festivals, and traditions. 
  2. It is also a city of innovation and education with more than 40 universities and colleges, including some of the top-ranked colleges in Japan and Asia. 
  3. The city also hosts many leading companies and research institutes, such as Nintendo, Kyocera, Omron, and Kyoto University.
  4. Kyoto is Japan’s cultural capital and has a rich history and heritage. It has over 2,000 temples and shrines, 17 of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
  5. The city has a well-developed public transportation system that connects it to other parts of Japan.

Cost of Living in Kyoto

The average monthly cost of living in Kyoto for a single person (without rent) is 124,381.4 JPY. These costs are lower than those in New York by 47.8%. The average monthly rent in Kyoto is also 85.5% lower than in New York. Here is a table that summarizes the average monthly living cost in Kyoto:

ExpenseSingle person
Rent60,660 JPY 
Food34,000 JPY
Entertainment20,000 JPY
Utilities and bills10,524 JPY
Transportation12,400 JPY
Total (without rent)124,381.4 JPY
Total (with rent)185,041.4 JPY

Accommodation/ Housing

The cost of accommodation depends on the type, size, location, and condition of the property. Generally speaking, the closer you are to the city centre or the subway stations, the more expensive the rent will be. You can also expect to pay more for newer or larger properties with more amenities.

Apartment (1 bedroom) in the city centre76,935.20 ¥
Apartment (1 bedroom) outside of the city centre48,750.00 ¥ 
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in the city centre168,333.33 ¥
Apartment (3 bedrooms) outside of the city centre110,000.00 ¥ 

If you are looking for student accommodation or a hostel in Kyoto, you can find some options on Dorms.com. The average monthly rent for a private room in a shared house or apartment is around 50,000 JPY, and for a dorm bed is around 30,000 JPY.


If you prefer to cook at home or buy groceries, you can save money by shopping at supermarkets or markets. Here are some examples of the prices of common food items in Kyoto:

Milk (1 litre)181.14 JPY
Bread (500 g)189.09 JPY
Rice (1 kg)553.52 JPY
Eggs (12)290.40 JPY
Cheese (1 kg)2,233 JPY
Chicken (1 kg) 1,181 JPY
Apples (1 kg)640 JPY
Bananas (1 kg)389.85 JPY
Oranges (1 kg)850 JPY
Tomatoes (1 kg)600 JPY
Onions (1 kg)357.25 JPY
Beer (16 oz)326 JPY
Lettuce (1 head)175 JPY
Water Bottle (1.5 litre)120.00 JPY
Wine (bottle)950.00 JPY
Coca-Cola (2 liters)287 JPY

You can find cheap and delicious local food at street stalls or convenience stores for around 500-1,000 JPY per meal. You can also enjoy a variety of cuisines at restaurants or cafes for around 1,000-3,000 JPY per meal.

Also Read: Expats Living Abroad: Everything You Need to Know!


You will find many free or low-cost attractions in Kyoto, such as temples, shrines, gardens, museums, and festivals. You can also explore the city by walking, biking, or using public transportation.

Mode of EntertainmentCost
Admission fees, tickets, or rentals (for cultural and leisure activities)500-3,000 JPY/person
Traditional Performance at Gion Corner3,150 JPY
Rent a Kimono for a Day2,000 JPY
Join a Tea Ceremony2,500 JPY
Drink at a bar700 JPY
Cover charge at a club2,000 JPY
Karaoke300-500 JPY

Utilities and Bills

The average monthly cost of utilities and bills is around 10,524 JPY for a single person living in a 45 m2 (480 sqft) studio. Here are some of the other prices of common utilities and bills in Kyoto:

Electricity (per kWh)Up to 120 kWh: 30 JPY 
121-300 kWh: 36.60 JPY
Above 300 kWh: 40.69 JPY
Gas (per m3)Up to 20 m3: 143 JPY 
More than 20 m3: 157 JPY
Water (per m3)Up to 10 m3: 100 JPY 
Above 10 m3: 200 JPY
Internet (per month)4,000-6,000 JPY
Phone (per month)5,000-10,000 JPY
TV (per month)2,000-4,000 JPY

Also Read: Tips and Tricks on Investing While Living Abroad!


The average monthly cost of transportation for a single person is around 12,400 JPY. Here are some examples of the prices of common transportation modes in Kyoto:

Subway (per ride)210-350 JPY
Bus (per ride)230-600 JPY
Train (per ride)200-800 JPY
Taxi (per km)400-800 JPY
Minimum fare: around 650-750 JPY

Average Tuition Fees in Kyoto, Japan

Besides the general cost of living in Kyoto, the average tuition fees vary depending on the type of university and degree. Here’s a breakdown of average tuition fees for different types of universities in Kyoto:

Type of UniversityAverage Tuition Fees
Public Universities535,800 yen per year (for both undergraduate and graduate programs)
Private Universities745,000 – 2.3 million yen per year (for UG programs)

The tuition fees in Kyoto are relatively low compared to other major cities in Japan, such as Tokyo or Osaka. So, international students who want to study abroad in Kyoto should prepare a sufficient budget and look for financial aid opportunities, such as scholarships or part-time jobs.

Things to Consider Before Moving to Kyoto

Moving to Kyoto as an international student can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it also requires careful planning and preparation. Here are some things to consider before you make the move:


You need to have a valid passport and a student visa to enter and stay in Japan. Additionally, you also need to register your residence at the local municipal office within 14 days of arrival and apply for a residence card. Here are some documents you might require depending on your university and program requirements:


English is not widely spoken in Kyoto, so you may face some communication difficulties if you don’t know Japanese. Learn some basic Japanese words and phrases before you go and enroll in a language course once you are there. Also, use online tools or apps to help you with translation and pronunciation.


Research the options available and book your student accommodation in advance. You may also need to pay a deposit and a key money fee when you sign the contract.


Use a prepaid card called ICOCA to pay for most of the public transport services. You can also buy a commuter pass if you travel regularly between your home and school. Bicycles are a popular and convenient way to get around the city, but you need to follow the traffic rules and register your bicycle at the local police station.


Kyoto is a city where the past and the present coexist, where you can immerse yourself in the rich and diverse culture of Japan. Honour the customs and manners of the people and try to learn from their wisdom and values.

Overall, Kyoto is a beautiful and fascinating city that offers a lot of opportunities and experiences for anyone who wants to live there. However, living in Kyoto also comes with a price. The cost of living in Kyoto is lower than in some other major cities in Japan or the world, but it is still relatively high compared to the average income level in Japan. Therefore, it is important to plan your budget carefully and look for ways to save money while enjoying the city.


Q1. How expensive is it to live in Kyoto?

Ans. To live in Kyoto for a year, you will need around 1,800,000 yen as the monthly living expenses, including rent, are about 150,000 yen. 

Q2. Is Kyoto City expensive?

Ans. While Kyoto City is not very expensive compared to other major cities in Japan, it is still more expensive than the world’s average cost of living. A single person’s estimated monthly costs are 124,381.4 yen without rent. 

Q3. Is it cheaper to live in Kyoto or Tokyo?

Ans. It is cheaper to live in Kyoto than in Tokyo, as the overall cost of living in Tokyo is about 24% higher than in Kyoto.

We hope this blog post has given you some useful information and tips on the cost of living in Kyoto. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. Subscribe to Leverage Edu to find the cost of living in different places. Thank you for reading and have a great day! 

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