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save money teaching english in japan

Teaching English in Japan has one of the most attractive salaries for ESL teachers while still giving you heaps of opportunities to save and travel.

The cost of living can vary depending on where you live but the salary offered will more than cover any expenses you might have. And that’s without even considering the benefits.

Japanese schools will typically include your flights, accommodation allocations, settlement allowances, health care and of course, there’s the minor benefit of unlimited access to Japan.

But never mind that…we’re here to talk about the saving potential Japan has to offer!

How much can I save while teaching English in Japan?

how much does it pay to teach english in japan

Like with everything else, there’s no real concrete number when it comes to savings in Japan. It will ultimately depend on what kind of lifestyle you have. Teachers can easily save about $10,500 USD in a year. With a little effort, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t be able to bank upwards of $15,000 USD.

It’s worth looking for things to do close to where you live so that you spend less on travel. Perhaps cooking some of your meals rather than always eating out, and being conservative with some of your utilities. Basically, employing the same sort of money-saving tactics you might use at home. The biggest mistake new teachers make is going mad with their first few pay cheques and leaving it too long before they start pocketing those extra dollars.

One way of preventing this is to send a chunk of money home every month. If it’s sitting in another bank account, you won’t be as tempted to spend it (hopefully!)

How much is it actually possible to save per month teaching in Japan?

Saving about $1,000 per month is easy enough when teaching in Japan. This amount will leave you plenty of “fun” money while making sure your bank balance remains healthy.

The cost of getting set up as an ESL teacher in Japan

can you save money teaching english in japan

When you’re teaching English in Japan, it’s important to plan for how much it’s going to cost you initially. It’s advisable to have a small chunk of savings to get you to your first pay cheque. We’ve summarized the expenses you’re going to face in the early months so that you’re fully prepared. Knowledge is power…or at the very least an incentive to start saving for the first leg of your Japanese dream. With any luck, you won’t end up relying on packet-ramen for all your meals!

Some of the programs will pay for flights up front, but not many. Usually, this cost is on you (and they will reimburse you once you’ve arrived). Flights can get expensive. We recommend scoping them out a couple of months in advance and using sites like Skyscanner to make sure you get the best deal. You can get cheaper flights if you choose longer flights with layovers. The cost of getting there will depend on your willingness to put up with discomfort.

Most positions for teaching ESL in Japan come with a housing allocation. This means your first month might entail an apartment search. The cost of getting your foot in the door of a simple studio apartment will cost you anything from $1,500 2,800 USD a month (this includes deposits, key money, handling fees, gift money (!) and 1-2 months of rent). Your actual monthly rent after that will only be between $280 and $780 (depending on location and the kind of apartment you go for).

Aside from that, you may want to budget for a phone and well…a month of feeding yourself!

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The average cost of living in Japan (based on Tokyo – the most expensive city)

teaching in japan living costs

Japan has a reasonable cost of living (despite the rumors). It’s the land of ramen after all. We’ve done some calculations so you can plan for the different costs that might affect your budget.



Average cost/USD



Basic (electricity, heating, air con, water, garbage)

$93 per month

(but some people pay a lot more…it depends what you use)

Cell phone/data plans

About $28 – $40 per month for a decent plan

Food & drink


Average monthly budget for food

$250 – 300 should feed most people

Meal in a McDonalds


Meal in a Japanese restaurant (inexpensive)


Meal in a Japanese restaurant (mid-range)


Cappuccino (regular)


Okay, so how easy is it to get a job teaching English in Japan?

can you save money teaching english in japan

Qualifying for teaching jobs in Japan isn’t the easiest. Because it’s so competitive, they tend to favor candidates with some classroom experience. As far as requirements go, a TEFL certificate and a bachelor’s degree will be more or less mandatory.

Read this: How to land an English teaching job in Japan


Ready to save big teaching in Japan?

Wahoo! It’s time to start browsing jobs boards. Why not head over to our teaching jobs board and see what teaching jobs are currently available in Japan. Get your application in and who knows? Maybe you will be waking up in Japan in a few months time.

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