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How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life in Tokyo? (As a Couple)

fire life tokyo jezael melgoza unsplash lo

Photo credit: Jezael Melgoza on Unsplash

How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life in Tokyo?

Hello, and welcome to interview #24 in the How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life interview series! Part interview, part spending report, this series will introduce us to FIRE* seekers from all over the world.

They’ll reveal their essential spending and money-saving tips—all to help us learn new ways to save on our own expenses. As a bonus, we’ll also get to discover the unique advantages and challenges of living in different places around the globe.

*FIRE stands for financial independence, retire early. It’s also known as FI—financial independence. For more info, see my FI School series—it’ll teach you everything you need to know about FI (and FIRE).

About the interview series

I created an intro page for this interview series to help explain what it’s about, what’s included (or not) and why. I’ll also link to all the interviews from the intro page—so check back there to see the entire collection.

Jump to the series intro: How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life? (The Interview Series)

Disclosure: These interviews may include affiliate links. That means I’ll receive a commission if you make a purchase through my links—at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

Interview #24: Syun from Tokyo

In today’s interview, we’ll meet Syun from Tokyo. I first ‘met’ him on Twitter nearly three years ago. I think he liked or retweeted some of my tweets… and then I noticed that he was from Japan. (If you know me, you know my family and I are Japanophiles, so this was a pretty big deal for me!)

I couldn’t believe I’d found someone from a country I’m fascinated by—and who was also into FIRE. I had so many questions about FIRE in Japan… and here was someone I could actually ask!

Earlier this year, I finally got around to inviting Syun to join my interview series… and he accepted! Soon after, he filled out the interview, then suggested that we meet over Zoom to clarify the details. I’m always eager to chat about FIRE, so I happily agreed. 😉

I thoroughly enjoyed my Zoom call with Syun and am grateful for all the time he spent with me putting his interview together. Be sure to check out the bonus section at the end, where he shares some additional thoughts—they’re eye-opening! 

And now, without further ado, I’ll let Syun introduce himself…

Part 1: Getting to know you

fire life tokyo syun

Syun from Tokyo, Japan

Tell us about yourself and your wife

I am in my mid-forties and living with my wife. After graduating my university, I was in a Japanese Government Organization. Then I moved to the international financial institute. After that, I moved to the second largest HR global company, then go back to Japanese company and became the CFO until I achieved FI two or three years ago.

Now, I have three main faces in my work and life. First, I’m a GRC (Governance/Risk/Compliance) consultant. I utilise my expertise to support/help management at companies and also boost up their business in terms of corporate governance.

Second, I’m a global investor. I use the core and the satellite strategy. Core meaning the indexes like S&P and NASDAQ. For the satellite strategy, I select good companies with good financial results under performance and growth, especially EPS (earnings per share).

I’m putting less than 10% in Japan because you cannot put all the eggs into one basket. Around 80% of my investing is in the US. 

Lastly, I’m an educator who teaches English, business management, economics, financial literacy, career coaching, and so on. I teach not only in Japan but also all around the world. 

My wife is a social welfare specialist. She loves her job and still works. We are based in the center of Tokyo, Japan. 

Where are you in your journey to FIRE?

I achieved FI two or three years ago but I still work very hard as a professional consultant. This means I am a man who wants to continue to work, but only if it is what I want and need. To help and support people who need my help through my expertise would be one of my happiest moments in my life. 

I do not have the clear strategy for FIRE. Because now I love my job and I love to work. I will keep working until people, including my lovely students, don’t need me anymore. I realized to make my rest of life happy, I want to spend the rest of my life with people who I love and places I like, with time to do things I enjoy. That’s exactly the reason why I came across FIRE.

My ultimate goal would be the PT (which is permanent travel) and work overseas, including in Vancouver and Canada. One thing that I want to achieve is, I want to work from the old castles in Europe. It’s an amazing idea, is that right?

I also want to pick the best season on the planet. That’s my strategy. This is a very clear reason I have for FI!

What type of FIRE are you aiming for? (FIRE, Lean FIRE, or Fat FIRE*)

How Chrissy defines FIRE, Lean FIRE, and Fat FIRE

Some people define Lean FIRE as under $40k in annual spending; FIRE as $40–$100k in annual spending; and Fat FIRE as $100k+ in annual spending.

However, I prefer looser definitions that are not based on hard numbers. That’s because $100k could be Fat FIRE in a small Canadian town but Lean FIRE in San Francisco. That said, here are my definitions:

  • Lean FIRE: The essentials with little or no discretionary spending.
  • FIRE: The essentials plus a comfortable amount of discretionary spending.
  • Fat FIRE: The essentials plus a luxurious amount of discretionary spending.

I am FI, not FIRE because I still work. But I live Coast FI style because right now I don’t have to work. But yeah, I’m still working and making a lot of money and my investing also earns money. 

I also own my house and it also can make money because I rent my parking lot. It’s a very efficient way. I like the smartest way and most effective and efficient way!

Recently in Japan, the FIRE thing is getting familiar with people. Especially for the younger generation. But I have to point out—it’s a little different from the other countries. In Japan, working very hard is regarded as a virtue. That is our culture.

Tell us about your living situation

I own a detached house with land, with no mortgage, in the prime area in Tokyo, Japan. It has three stories and is more than 100 square meters (1,000 square feet). I am on the third floor and you can see Mount Fuji through the window. 

It’s in a very, very prime area. Quite convenient as I can walk to the biggest/famous/popular areas named Shinjuku, Shibuya, Harajuku. I think these three towns are the most famous in Tokyo in terms of global setup. 

My house is 15 years old. In Japan, the average duration years for the housing would be 30 years or so. I guess housing or real estate in the US or Canada would be much longer.

Chrissy’s note: North Americans may find this hard to believe, but Japanese homes are depreciating assets and not seen as investments. The 30-year lifespan which Syun mentions is, shockingly, true. This fascinating article sheds more light on this unusual quirk.

Why did you choose to live in Tokyo?

I was born in another town, and moved to Tokyo for university and my job. I like Tokyo because it must be one of the biggest and most convenient place on the planet.

Part 2: The expenses

In this section, Syun shares his essential expenses and best money-saving tips. But before we get started, let’s review some important notes:

Important notes about the numbers

  • Only essential expenses are included.
  • Discretionary expenses (e.g. travel, gifts, etc.) are not included.
  • Expenses are rounded to the nearest dollar. 
  • Expenses are displayed in the interviewee’s home currency.
  • In this interview, the home currency is Japanese yen (¥).
  • For your convenience, I’ve included a currency converter for each expense.

For detailed explanations about which expenses are included (or not) see my How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life intro post.

1. How much does housing cost in Tokyo?

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Photo credit: Emil Karlsson on Unsplash

Mortgage (¥0)

We are mortgage-free.

Property tax (¥10,000/month; ¥120,000/year)

Special tips I have here. I rent my parking lot under a very advantageous contract. Which means my house earns money to pay the property tax by itself.

Strata/HOA fees (¥0)

We do not pay a strata fee.

Home insurance (¥0)

I already paid this when I built this house. In Japan, you buy home insurance for maybe 20 years. There are other options but I chose the one-time payment because I don’t want the running costs.

Japanese don’t like paying every year. Because Japanese don’t like the liability. Liability is a bad thing, like a burden on our life. That is a Japanese mentality.

The cost for this coverage is between ¥20,000,000 to ¥40,000,000 ($224,061 CAD or $176,195 USD).

Home maintenance (¥0)

This category includes: home maintenance, repairs, cleaning, and improvements; household goods and supplies; furniture; and appliances.

Deal with just as needs happen. For example, if the bathroom got out of order.

2. How much does transportation cost in Tokyo?

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Photo credit: Carina Sze on Unsplash

Vehicle loan payments, insurance, gas, maintenance, parking and tolls (¥0)

No car needed since my area is very convenient and has super easy access to anywhere. Nearest station is just 2-minute walk from my place.

Bike maintenance (¥0)

My wife sometimes rides a bike, but I like to walk.

Transit (¥0)

I don’t need trains or buses because I walk everywhere. I just need the three towns, especially Shinjuku, Harajuku, Shibuya, it’s enough. To Shinjuku, I think it would be around 4 kilometers or more. It’s just 30 to 40 minutes walking and that’s the best exercise, right?

I can reach Shibuya or Harajuku going past one of the biggest park like Central Park in NYC. It is called Yoyogi Park, next to the Meiji Shrine. It’s a nice walking course.

3. How much does food cost in Tokyo?

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Photo by gemma on Unsplash

Groceries (¥50,000/month; ¥600,000/year)

My wife cooks her own food. She loves to cook and she makes her favorite dishes. But I need just one or two meals a day. I usually don’t take my breakfast. I have the small supermarket just 10 or 20 steps from my gate. That is the only place I shop at.

Eating out (¥0)

I’m not interested in the food anymore. I used to go out to restaurant. But as I mentioned, a year ago, I lost my whole interest for anything. That’s why I eat just tofu, egg at home. The simple simple food. That’s enough. 

But I value the healthy factor. So recently, I prefer to eat vegetables and fruits. And now fresh, raw fish with olive oil. Like a Mediterranean cuisine.

4. How much do utilities and bills cost in Tokyo?

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Photo by Jason Richard on Unsplash

Natural gas (¥5,500/month; ¥66,000/year)

We use natural gas for hot water and cooking.

Electricity (¥8,000/month; ¥96,000/year)

We use a normal level of electricity.

Water (¥5,000/month; ¥60,000/year)

We are charged depending on how much we use. We use a normal level of water.

Garbage and recycling (¥0)

We do not pay for garbage.

Internet (¥5,500/month; ¥66,000/year)

We have giga-speed internet because I’m doing my teaching for the year online. But it is not expensive because nowadays it’s very competitive.

Home phone (¥0)

The elderly people, they still have, but we don’t.

Cell phone service (¥3,300/month; ¥39,600/year)

My plan is unlimited. I chose the unlimited one because I don’t want to care about how much I have left.

Streaming entertainment and cable TV (¥0)

I used to have subscription for Netflix. But I did not have any time to watch it and enjoy it. Moreover, I lost the interest.

5. How much do other essentials cost in Tokyo?

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Photo by Polina Tankilevitch on Pexels

Life and disability insurance (¥0)

No need because I’m already FI.

Medical insurance (¥0)

No need. The government pays for 70% and we pay 30%. For the elderly people, they can have the advantage of, like, just 20%.

Out-of-pocket medical expenses (¥2,000/month; ¥24,000/year)

This is for teeth check and cleaning mostly. We pay 30% for basic treatment. If you want to get the additional treatment, like, ceramic or gold teeth or something like that, you pay for that and you have to pay everything.

To see a doctor, we pay around ¥2,000 ($23 CAD or $18 USD). This is the 30% that we have to pay.

If you got the illness for the eyes, our government, to some extent, they can cover or they pay. But for the normal short-sighted or something like that, we have to pay 100%. 

Medications we have to pay 100%.

Clothing and footwear (¥2,500/month; ¥30,000/year)

Not so much prioritized unlike before. Actually, I still have many Italian suits. Very luxury, high-quality suits for board meetings or business trips. Like from the US drama Suits. I like that business suit. I still have all the Italian suits but I don’t use them anymore.

My wife is a social welfare specialist, so she doesn’t need many clothes.

Personal care (¥7,500/month; ¥90,000/year)

This category includes: haircuts, toiletries and grooming services and supplies.

For haircuts and supplies.

Technology (¥11,000/month; ¥132,000/year)

This category includes essential technology: software and hardware purchases, upgrades, maintenance, and repairs. Non-essentials (video games and consoles, e-readers, security cameras, etc.) aren’t included. 

Actually, I love the newest updated one for the IT devices and because it does affect my performance at my work for my classes to gather information. But I don’t replace every year. Every two years or something like that.

Part 3: Adding it all up

Now that we’ve detailed all of Syun’s essential expenses, it’s time to add everything up in some nice, organized tables!

Important notes about the numbers

  • Only essential expenses are included.
  • Discretionary expenses (e.g. travel, gifts, etc.) are not included.
  • Expenses are rounded to the nearest dollar. 
  • Expenses are displayed in the interviewee’s home currency.
  • In this interview, the home currency is Japanese yen (¥).
  • For your convenience, I’ve included a currency converter in each section. I hope you find it useful!

For detailed explanations about which expenses are included (or not) see my How Much Does it Cost to Live the FIRE Life intro post.

How much does it cost to live the FIRE life in Tokyo?

1. Housing

ExpenseMonthly (JPY)Annual (CAD)
Mortgage¥0¥0
Property tax¥10,000¥120,000
Strata/HOA fees
¥0¥0
Home insurance¥0¥0
Maintenance¥0¥0
TOTAL¥10,000¥120,000

2. Transportation

ExpenseMonthly (JPY)Annual (JPY)
Vehicle loan¥0¥0
Vehicle insurance¥0¥0
Gas¥0¥0
Vehicle maintenance¥0¥0
Bike maintenance¥0¥0
Parking and tolls¥0¥0
Transit¥0¥0
TOTAL¥0¥0

3. Food

ExpenseMonthly (JPY)Annual (JPY)
Groceries¥50,000¥600,000
Eating out¥0¥0
TOTAL¥50,000¥600,000

4. Utilities and bills

ExpenseMonthly (JPY)Annual (JPY)
Natural gas¥5,500¥66,000
Electricity¥8,000¥96,000
Water¥5,000¥60,000
Garbage and recycling¥0¥0
Internet¥5,500¥66,000
Home phone¥0¥0
Cell phones¥3,300¥39,600
Streaming entertainment and cable TV¥0¥0
TOTAL¥27,300¥327,600

5. Other essentials

ExpenseMonthly (JPY)Annual (JPY)
Life and disability insurance¥0¥0
Medical insurance¥0¥0
Out-of-pocket medical expenses¥2,000¥24,000
Clothing and footwear¥2,500¥30,000
Personal care¥7,500¥90,000
Technology¥11,000¥132,000
TOTAL¥23,000¥276,000

Grand totals

ExpenseMonthly (JPY)Annual (JPY)
Housing¥10,000¥120,000
Transportation¥0¥0
Food¥50,000¥600,000
Utilities and bills¥27,300¥327,600
Other essentials¥23,000¥276,000
TOTAL¥110,300¥1,323,600

Part 4: Additional thoughts from Syun

Syun and I chatted a little longer on our Zoom call, and he shared some additional thoughts that I thought you might enjoy.

Japan’s reputation as an expensive country

Japan is regarded as expensive, but compared with other countries, the prices of things is much lower than other countries. Especially compared to the US or Canada, or some other developed countries like in Europe. Japan is much cheaper than those countries. 

Japan was expensive in the old days. But right now, no more. It’s an aging society. Due to the rapid speed of the aging society in Japan, the price of things has been decreased year by year. 

In Japanese minds, the economy is shrinking year by year. So they cannot open their wallet. They have the anxiety for their future. That is my analysis. My professional opinion.

Chrissy’s note: One of my favourite podcasts about Japan recently covered this topic (starting at 16:19): Voices in Japan—Is Japan an Expensive Country? Like Syun, the hosts feel that Japan isn’t as expensive as it’s perceived to be. This is an ongoing theme in my interviews—it’s very much possible to live affordably in HCOL areas.

How he feels about being different

I think normal people spend more than me. 

As it were, I already graduated from the real world. Like, how can I say it? Like God, above the clouds. I’ve lost most of the interest for things like leisure, movies, golf, tennis. I used to be a scuba diver, but I don’t want to do it again because I already graduated that. 

Leisure—I’m not interested in anymore. Now I am interested in helping people, including management or lovely students in my classes.

That is one of the most different things about me from the normal people. Even if I have the time or money to spend for leisure or playing, I don’t want to do that. Even if I had such time, I would use it for my classes, for my students. This means I don’t need to spend any money. In opposite, it earns me money!

Chrissy’s takeaways

Thank you to Syun for sharing his expenses. I have to be honest—his low spending was an enormous surprise for me. Like most people, I believed that Japan was an expensive place to live (especially the megalopolis of Tokyo).

As it turns out, Japan (and Tokyo) may not be so costly after all. Here are the things that surprised me the most in Syun’s interview:

¥0 per year for a house in Tokyo?!

When you’re mortgage-free like Syun and his wife, you can get your cost of living very, very low. They also took it one step further by paying upfront for their home insurance many years ago. (This long-term home insurance is very intriguing to me! I’ve never come across this before, so maybe it’s Japan-specific?)

That leaves property tax as their only housing cost. But even then, it’s shockingly cheap—at only ¥120,000 per year ($1,350 CAD/$1,050 USD)! However, Syun also rents out his home’s parking spot… and that covers his property tax!

That means Syun and his wife live in a house in the centre of Tokyo… for ¥0! WOW. Seriously, wow. That is beyond impressive. Very well done, Syun and Mrs. Syun!!!

But… don’t forget the opportunity cost

Before we get too excited, we can’t forget the opportunity cost of owning a home and paying for a large expense (e.g. home insurance) up front. Syun didn’t share his home value, but I found this article that says a house in Tokyo cost ¥64,870,000 ($730,000 CAD/$570,000 USD) in 2018.

Based on the year-on-year increase of 8.5% stated in the article, the 2021 cost of a house in Tokyo would be ¥82,860,000 ($935,000 CAD/$725,000 USD). 

As for his home insurance policy, Syun said a 20-year term on a home insurance policy costs between ¥20,000,000 to ¥40,000,000. Let’s pick a number in the middle—¥30,000,000 ($338,000 CAD/$263,000 USD).

If we were to run the opportunity cost calculation on Syun’s home equity and paid-for home insurance, it would be: (¥82,860,000 + ¥30,000,000) x 5% = ¥5,643,000 ($64,000 CAD/$50,000 USD) per year.

That works out to ¥470,250 ($5,300 CAD/$4,100 USD) per month. Based on the little information I was able to find, that’s less than what it would cost to rent a whole house in Tokyo. In conclusion: even with the opportunity cost factored in, Syun and his wife are still doing better by owning their home and paying for their insurance upfront. 👍

¥0 for transportation?!

Tokyo is known for its efficient, on-time transit system. The extensive train network is made of a maze-like crisscross of train lines—covering just about every nook and cranny in the city. (We were very grateful to have Google Maps to help us navigate the system when we visited in 2018.)

That’s why I found it hard to believe that Syun doesn’t make use of any of this amazing infrastructure! To be honest, I thought he’d made a mistake when I saw that their transportation costs were ¥0! I definitely had to ask for more details on our Zoom call.

After speaking with Syun, it all made sense. He really does live in a prime location. Everything one would need is right where he’s living. Why commute anywhere else? 

In addition, Tokyo is a very walkable city. Travelling on foot was my family’s favourite mode of transportation when we visited Japan. I don’t blame Syun for preferring to walk everywhere—it’s healthier and more enjoyable than riding the crowded trains (which are mostly underground).

Clearly, Syun could afford to take the train and maybe even own a car if he wanted. But he’s made a conscious decision to use his own two legs to get around. And why not? It’s great for his physical and mental health and good for the planet. Keep on walking, my friend!

High-quality food at a low cost

Syun and his wife manage to keep their grocery costs very affordable—even with healthy, high-quality ingredients like fresh fish. He also only eats two meals a day, which reduces their food requirements by about 17%. That’s a big savings!

A few years ago, my husband and I started intermittent fasting by cutting out breakfast and nighttime snacks. We saw a significant reduction in our grocery costs (and we also lost weight)! Reducing your daily food intake is an easy way to shrink food costs and waistlines. 👍

As for Syun’s ¥0 for eating out, I don’t know how he’s able to resist all that delicious food in Tokyo! (I would eat out all the time if I lived there!) Dining out is also relatively affordable in Japan, which is another reason why I’d have a hard time not eating all my meals out!

But… this isn’t about me, ha ha. Back to Syun—his decision to eat simply at home is definitely cheaper and healthier. It’s also important to note that not eating out also makes him happier. Syun’s very clear about what he values, and I respect and support that. 

When we align our spending with what we value, everything falls into place.

Chrissy’s closing thoughts

Syun and his wife have done an incredible job of optimizing their big three expenses (housing, transportation, and food). If you’re on the FIRE path and didn’t already know this, pay attention: reducing your costs in these three areas is the best way to increase your saving rate!

In addition, since Syun and his wife are so highly optimized, they can easily afford to splurge on things that are important to them: fast internet, unlimited mobile plans, and regular technology upgrades. 

Even so, these ‘luxury’ expenses barely set them back—Syun’s annual essential spending is the lowest amongst all the couples in my series so far! That’s unbelievable because the competition is tough; most of the couples in this series are very thrifty! 

On top of that, Syun and his wife live in the middle of Tokyo. I think they deserve a frugal trophy or, at the very least, a round of applause for that! 👏

One final thought

I have one final, important thought to share about Syun’s story. I think it’s astonishing that he not only discovered FIRE but that he also took the principles to heart. He completely changed his spending and lifestyle to align with his values—and he’s happier for it.

This is especially poignant because I can see how FIRE doesn’t exactly jive with the Japanese work ethic and culture. I know this because, over the years, we’ve hosted many homestay students from Japan. 

Through our students’ stories, one thing that’s always stood out is how hard Japanese people work. As mentioned by Syun, this is a virtue and part of the culture in Japan. There’s even a term for ‘working to death’: karoshi. Tragically, this is a common occurrence in Japan. 

Given this high-pressure culture around work, I think it must have taken a lot of courage for Syun to leave his career—at the top of his game and at such a young age. Yes, he still works. But his choice to leave a high-level career to pursue his passions must have been seen as very unusual. 

It’s not easy to go against cultural norms to do what Syun’s done. I hope that, as more people like Syun share their stories, FIRE will become more well-known in Japan (and all over the world). FI/FIRE could free so many from the life they think they’re ‘supposed’ to live.

Thank you again to Syun for joining the interview series and so candidly sharing his expenses, FI story and life in Japan. It was fascinating for me and allowed me to finally ask the questions I wanted to ask about FIRE in Japan!

Connect with Syun

If you’d like to connect with, Syun, you can find him on TwitterInstagramYouTube, or on ClubHouse @syuns. You can also find him at his ONLINE SALON and website.

Share your thoughts

Were you surprised by Syun’s essential expenses? Are any of them significantly different from where you live? Share your thoughts in the comments, along with your own money saving tips!

Join the series!

I’d love for everyone to participate—whether you’re a blogger or not! The more FIRE seekers I can interview, the more useful the series will be. If you’re interested, I have three simple requirements:

  1. You’re at or pursuing FIRE (or FI).
  2. You track your expenses relatively accurately.
  3. You’re willing to share your expenses and money-saving tips.

That’s it! If you’re interested, fill in the form at this link or contact me.

Kathrin lives in high-cost London, England, yet she keeps her expenses exceptionally low… and she’ll still reach FI in her 30s. Find out how in her interview!

My podcast co-host Money Mechanic lives with his wife in Victoria—BC’s beautiful capital city. It’s a HCOL area, but they do an amazing job of keeping their expenses low!

Visit the intro page to learn more about the what and why behind the series and access the complete list of interviews.

Support this blog

If you liked this article and want more content like this, please support this blog by sharing it! Not only does it help spread the FIRE, but it lets me know what content you find most useful. (Which encourages me to write more of it!) 

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As always, however you show your support for this blog—THANK YOU!

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4 Comments

  • Reply
    Moe (Moementum Finance)
    December 22, 2021 at 6:52 am

    Hi Chrissy, this is a great interview! Similar to your family, I have a huge admiration for Japan and fell in love with it when I visited there 2 years ago. I was amazed at how respectful people are and the ease of transportation both within and intra cities. While I mainly stayed in Tokyo, I think I visited over 6 major cities in Japan thanks to their rapid bullet trains.
    Syun’s family is definitely doing a great job in managing their expenses. It is also very interesting how both Mr and Mrs Syun are continuing to work at jobs they enjoy despite reaching FI. As for the expence items, one item I am quite shocked with is the home insurance. I had no idea they have long term home insurance policies in Japan (e.g. 20 yeat policy). I was also surprised with how expensive that policy is. If my math is right, the 20 year home insurance policy costed roughly 350K CAD in 20 years or about 17K CAD a year? That is quite high compared to what we pay for home insurance in Canada, isn’t it?
    I am jealous how cheap and affordable the internet and cellphone costs are in Japan. We definitely need more competitive prices in Canada haha
    Great article and a great read! Looking forward to your next article. In the meantime, wishing you and your readers a wonderful Christmas and happy holidays! 🙂

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      December 22, 2021 at 1:39 pm

      Hi Moe—it’s hard not to fall in love with Japan! There’s just so much to appreciate about the country; from the people, to the history and culture, to the food and all the unique experiences you can only find in Japan.

      I agree that it’s interesting that Syun and his wife both choose to continue working when they don’t HAVE to. For me, this is one of the amazing things about FI—you can choose to work because you WANT to, not because you have no choice. It’s a very powerful position to be in.

      Regarding the home insurance, I was thinking the same thing. That’s a lot of money compared to what we pay (which is just under $1,000/year). I’ll try to ask Syun for more details.

      As for the low internet and cell phone costs, that seems to be the case in Japan, South Korea and China (and possibly most of Asia). Their networks are much faster and the service is very affordable. I’m not sure why it costs as much as it does in Canada and the US. 😕

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read Syun’s interview and leave such a thoughtful comment. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to your family as well! 🎄

  • Reply
    Jean
    December 25, 2021 at 11:30 am

    Very interesting how Japanese view home property investments. I can see living in a high earthquake/typhoon-prone country, the home cost becomes a liability to own. To live in mortgage free home for them, is an achievement. It may be tougher on other Japanese who didn’t have career options like interviewee.

    Though I loved Japan when we were there for 2.5 wks., I’m not sure as a woman professional, I would free to advance in various jobs/career. It’s a lovely country but a more rigid society with alot of societal rules and high expectations for men and women..even in 21st century in terms of work. I noticed he talks about working hard as a consultant…still. Which means being FI probably would be greatly frowned by locals.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      December 25, 2021 at 11:19 pm

      Hi Jean—the way Japan deals with its houses is indeed unique. You are correct that that natural disasters have played a role in how their housing became, essentially, a consumable. I agree that a mortgage-free home in many parts of the world, but especially central Tokyo, is quite an achievement. And yes, a good career, as Syun had, certainly helps!

      I also got the same impression of Japan’s traditional society and high expectations from our visit and from our students. There is good and bad to this. Japan has done a remarkable job of holding onto many important cultural values and traditions. This is a big reason why it’s such an incredible culture to be immersed in. However, some of the old ways do need to change (such as sexism in the workplace).

      I agree that FI is probably frowned upon in Japan. This is why I think it’s very brave of Syun to pursue it anyway and change his lifestyle as much as he has. Thank you, once again, for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate your feedback!

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