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Teaching English in Japan - The Salary and Budget Guide

Teaching English in Japan - The Salary and Budget Guide | ITTT | TEFL Blog

The following guide will help you answer the question: How much can I earn (and save) while teaching English in Japan? You will also find information on the local cost of living in order to figure out how much to budget for when moving to Japan.

The Typical Salary for English Teachers in Japan

Japan has been a popular destination for teaching English as a foreign language for decades. With the government-funded teacher placement program called JET, there are a lot of options for English teachers to find a suitable position all over the country.

The cost of living in Japan has increased significantly in recent years which means it is no longer the top destination for saving large amounts of money in Asia. However, Japan still has plenty to offer both new and experienced teachers. As a guide, you should expect to earn somewhere between 200,000 and 600,000 yen (currently $2,000 to $6,000 US) per month. If the job pays by the hour then a figure of around 2,500 yen ($25 US) per hour would be typical. Here is more information on the average salaries per school type:

The salary also depends on where you are located in Japan. The highest salaries are paid in the big cities, especially Tokyo, but the cost of living there is also the highest. There are many smaller cities and towns all across Japan looking for TEFL qualified teachers, where the salary is competitive and the cost of living not as high as in the capital.

Other Benefits to Expect When Teaching English in Japan

Besides the salary, most teachers in Japan also receive free housing or a housing allowance from their employer. Additionally, most schools pay for the roundtrip airfare for their teachers and healthcare is also very affordable. There is also usually a contract completion bonus offered.

How to Earn Extra Cash While Teaching English in Japan

One popular option for teachers looking to top up their earnings is to take on private students in their free time. Most private lessons are around 3,000 yen ($30) per hour, which can go a long way to making your stay in Japan even more comfortable.

The Cost of Living in Japan

According to the latest statistics from Expatistan, Tokyo is the third most expensive city to live in Asia, after Hong Kong and Singapore. However, the competitive salary and attractive benefits as an EFL teacher in Japan still allow you to live comfortably. Below, we break down the cost of living in Japan for individual aspects.

Cost of Living in Japan: Food

Shopping at local markets and eating at local restaurants drastically reduces your expenses and also gives you a deeper insight into local culture and the Japanese way of life.

  • Milk (1L): 186.53 ¥
  • Eggs (12): 226.87 ¥
  • Apples (1kg): 814.00 ¥
  • Chicken breast (1kg): 797.50 ¥
  • Rice (1kg): 558.33 ¥
  • Bottle of water (1.5L): 122.58 ¥
  • Bottle of Japanese beer (.5L): 301.29 ¥

Cost of Living in Japan: Leisure Activities

Japanese people love going out with friends and family to have a good time. Whether it’s eating out at a good restaurant, singing their soul out at karaoke or going to a club in the city, Japan’s leisure activities have something for everyone.

  • Three-course mid-range restaurant dinner: 5,000.00 ¥
  • Quick restaurant meal of rice or ramen: 1,000.00 ¥
  • 1-month fitness club membership: 9,842.11 ¥
  • Tennis court rent (1 hour on weekend): 2,421.43 ¥
  • Movie ticket, international release: 1,800.00 ¥

Cost of Living in Japan: Transportation

Japan is known all over the world for its modern and efficient public transit network. The buses and subways in the cities are fast and reliable and the bullet trains are among the fastest in the whole world, connecting the cities of the country with one another.

  • Metro ride: 200.00 ¥
  • Taxi rate per km: 410.00 ¥ (start fare ~ 475.00 ¥)
  • City bus: 200.00 ¥
  • Monthly bus and subway pass: 10,000.00 ¥

Cost of Living in Japan: Travel in Japan and Beyond

Japan is an incredible island nation with lots of things to see and do in your free time. The bullet trains are incredibly fast and affordable and domestic flights to other parts of the country are also quite cheap. Plus, you can visit neighboring Asian countries like South Korea and China in just a couple of hours.

  • 1 night in a mid-range hotel: 15,000.00 ¥
  • High-speed train, Tokyo to Osaka (2.5 hours): 18,000.00 ¥
  • Slow train, Tokyo to Osaka (3.5 hours): 15,000.00 ¥
  • Flight, Tokyo to Okinawa (2.5 hours): 12,700.00 ¥
  • Flight, Tokyo to Seoul (2 hours): 7,200.00 ¥

Sample Monthly Teacher Budget

To give you an example of how an English teacher in Japan spends their salary, here is a sample monthly budget:

  • Gross income (salary): average salary 280,000 ¥
  • Rent: 0, paid for by employer
  • Utilities (electricity, gas, water): 22,500 ¥
  • Phone & Internet: 4,700 ¥
  • Food: 25,000 ¥
  • Insurance: 3,000 ¥
  • Remaining disposable income: 224,800 ¥ (approx. $2,000 USD)

How Much You Can Save When Teaching English in Japan

As you can see from the sample budget above, the competitive salaries in Japan allow you to save quite a lot of money during the length of your contract. Because rent is often paid for by the employer, you will be able to save money that would otherwise go on housing. Depending on your lifestyle, ESL teachers in Japan are easily able to save anything from $500 to $1,000 per month.

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Are you ready to teach English in Japan?

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