Oct 12, 2016

The cost of living in Roppongi, Tokyo (beyond the bars and the nightlife)

The cost of living in Roppongi, Tokyo (beyond the bars and the nightlife) photo

Let’s see … the cost of living in Roppongi; Well, how much could you drop on drinking into the wee hours in the area's bars, nightly?  What price to pay when tempted by all the shopping and entertainment options this, at times, raucous, and wild part of Tokyo has to offer?  And then there’s the ‘classy’ stuff. How about having Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown on your doorstep with all their pomp and finery pouting for your money?  

Roppongi is a cash delta, an expendable-income highway junction accepting, processing, and spitting out the cash that pours in from its residents, visiting shoppers, drinkers, night prowlers, loved-up couples, cashed-up city bankers, and excitable English teachers. Honestly, this place doesn’t care who you are, so long as you’ve got the money.  

Have you got the money to live in Roppongi?

It’s always struck an odd chord that a place so skilled in laying on 'dive' nights of letting loose should also be home to a significant portion of Tokyo’s higher earners. Urban projects like Roppongi Hills and Tokyo Midtown mean that these people can live among the finer things in life and yet still dip their toes into the murky waters of a Roppongi night out, should they so desire. And these are some fine areas indeed. A stroll around Roppongi Hills can quickly leave those of more limited financial resource damned by a glimpse of paradise.  

The thing is, Roppongi is an area that gives access to the highest concentration of embassies and consulates in Tokyo, and as such can serve as a place of residence and leisure for those on a diplomatic salary.  This is something to be aware of when looking into average costs required to find a place in this part of Tokyo.

プラザホームズ (PLAZA HOMES) has a summary of average market rents in Roppongi for what they describe as ‘expat standard’ properties. Now, 'expat standard' is a curious phrase given that most expats in Tokyo probably live in something akin to a shoe box or a share house.  Maybe it is possible then for the average overseas resident to begin living in Roppongi. Or perhaps there’s a discrepancy here about what ‘expat standard’ is (and we're going back to those who have diplomatic immunity).   

According to their page on Roppongi, average rents per month for a ...

1 room - 1LDK = 233,514 yen

2 LDK = 388,466 yen

3 LDK = 878,192 yen

4 LDK = 1,151,800 yen

(Updated in Sept. 2016)

This is perhaps enough to make the eyes moist. Let’s compare with others then.

Real estate agency HOME’S also has a page on Roppongi’s average rents, without mention of the phrase ‘expat standard’.  

According to HOME’S, average rents per month in Roppongi for a …

1 room = 136,600 yen

1 K = 128,800 yen

1 DK = 159,000 yen

2 LDK 428,000 yen

3 LDK 477,500 yen

(Above rents for properties with a 10-min walk from the station. Does not include administrative fees, parking etc)

Significantly cheaper then, but still prohibitively expensive for large swathes of us nonetheless.  

Moving one or two train stops away from Roppongi Station doesn’t look too promising for tighter budgets either, when we consider that this could include stations like Azabu-juban, Hiro-O, Ebisu, and Aoyama.

Perhaps the net needs to be cast wider in search of something more affordable.

Last month realtor SUUMO ジャーナル published the results of a survey they conducted into their properties, that are within a 30-min train ride from Roppongi Station. They produced a ranking from it; Ranking of the cheapest market rents within 30 mins of Roppongi.  

Looking into a database of rents for their own properties between Jan. 1 and March 31, 2016 SUUMO have come up with a list that is much easier on the eye (and the wallet). We’ve translated their charts below. These rents are based on properties within a 15-min walk from the stations listed, with fixed-term rents, and floor plans over 10 sq.m (1 K, 1 DK, studio). ‘Time’ represents the time spent on trains to Roppongi.  (Market rent in Japanese Yen, per month)

RankStationMarket rentLine / AreaTransferTime
1Mizunokuchi69,200Tōkyū Denentoshi / Kanagawa-ken, Kawasaki-shi2~ 30 mins
Tōkyū Tōyoko / Kanagawa-ken, Yokohama-shi
1~ 27 mins
3Ryūtsū Center
Tokyo Monorail / Tokyo-to, Ota-ku2~ 27 mins
4Machiya73,200Chiyoda / Tokyo-to, Arakawa-ku1~ 27 mins
Tōkyū Tōyoko / Kanagawa-ken, Kawasaki-shi2~ 27 mins
6Sakurajōsui74,500Keiō / Tokyo-to, Setagaya-ku1~ 30 mins
7Todoroki74,700Tōkyū Ōimachi / Tokyo-to, Setagaya-ku2~ 25 mins
RankStationMarket rentLine / AreaTransferTime
8Numabe74,900Tōkyū Tamagawa / Tokyo-to, Ota-ku2~ 28 mins
9Setagaya75,600Tōkyū Setagaya / Tokyo-to, Setagaya-ku2~ 30 mins
10Den-en-chōfu 76,000Tōkyū Tōyoko / Tokyo-to, Ota-ku1~ 21 mins
11Araiyakushi-mae 76,200Seibu Shinjuku / Tokyo-to, Nakano-ku1~ 30 mins
12Asagaya76,500JR Sōbu / Tokyo-to, Suginami-ku1~ 28 mins
13 Kōenji76,800JR Sōbu  / Tokyo-to, Suginami-ku1~ 26 mins
14Shin-egota76,900Toei Ōedo / Tokyo-to, Nakano-ku0~ 26 mins
14Ochiai-minami-nagasaki 76,900Toei Ōedo / Tokyo-to, Shinjuku-ku0~ 23 mins

(Time to stations calculated based on day-time journeys on a weekday)

Now, when this expat read the list, I have to say, a lot of the stations above were unfamiliar. It might also be disheartening for those who are priced out of a desired place in Roppongi to see areas on the list such as Kawasaki and Yokohama, that can seem like they are some distance away. Add on to this a potential walking time of 30 mins (total) and a 1-hour journey begins to stretch one’s ability to say that you live near Roppongi. Still, 30 mins is 30 mins. Not a long distance at all when you consider some of the Draconian commutes facing megacity dwellers the world over.

In looking at the cost of living in Roppongi we have been focusing on average market rents.  These figures will, of course, be significantly inflated by the area's swanky, serviced spaces.  It doesn't need to be thus.  Individual searches turn up other options.  If a guest house is OK for you, then you can find rooms within striking distance of Roppongi's stations for around 35,000 yen.  You might also be able to find individual apartments in the 75,000 - 100,000 range (particularly if you can drag yourselves away to Azabu / Azabujuban).  You'll likely have to sacrifice size for location, however.

And this is the blunt reality many of us face; living in the nation’s (any nation’s) most glamorous city comes at the kind of prices where we just have to take what we can get. We have to be happy to have ‘insert glamorous city’ in our address, and not concern ourselves too much with the intricacies of which part.  

Would you like to live in Roppongi?  How close would you need to be to feel like you were living nearby?

See us on ...

Twitter: @City_Cost_Japan

Facebook: @citycostjapan




SUUMO ジャーナル


Benjamin Taylor Flickr License



A Q&A and blogging community about life in Japan (plus a load of life-in-Japan stats!). Get your questions answered, share your experience! | Inquiry -> KyodoNewsDigital International Media | Tokyo, Japan | +81 3 6252 6402