Photo: iStock/Orthosie

The pros and cons of living on Tokyo’s outskirts

By Chiara Terzuolo

When we first found our previous apartment in Minami Asagaya, my partner and I were thrilled. It was near a lovely park and gave us an easy commute to work. And then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Suddenly the apartment felt very, very small. Both of us were working from home and neither one could get space away from the other.

After a year of making do, our lease came up for renewal. A few months later, we finally found the perfect house for rent and moved from urban Tokyo to a semi-agricultural area located a 25-minute walk from Mitaka station in the western region of the city.

This has improved our lives, and I highly recommend it for folks who can work from home. Like everything, there are pros and cons, although I personally feel the benefits have very much outweighed the downsides.

More space

While still cheap compared to cities like New York or Singapore, getting a 3LDK within the main 23 wards of Tokyo can be expensive. Moving to the outskirts has allowed us to go from a 42-square-meter apartment with paper-thin walls to a two-story 110 square-meter house for just ¥40,000 more per month.

Innumerable little daily stressors disappeared: we can both work in the kitchen simultaneously, don’t need to fight for closet space and can keep our individual workspaces how we like them. This has improved our relationship, as we both have the space we need and can work without getting in each other’s way.

Peace and quiet

Until moving to the boonies, I didn’t realize how much the constant noise drained my mind. In the evening it is easy to fall asleep, as there are no loud cars, music playing in shops, or rowdy passersby chatting loudly after a night out.

The lack of crowds also makes walking around, shopping and other daily chores so much more pleasant. Walking home at the end of a long day rushing around the city is a pleasure, as just a few minutes from the station the main sounds transition to bird song, chirping insects and the wind through the trees.

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Rather live in Ginza.

-12 ( +4 / -16 )

To each his own Michael. Me personally- Give me the inaka ANY day. Big garden. My kids splashing in a pool- my wife in the hammock reclining lazily with a cocktail, and me burning meat and getting drunk. No better way to spend the weekend.

19 ( +22 / -3 )

Agreed @Aly.

The good life!

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Moving to the outskirts has allowed us to go from a 42-square-meter apartment with paper-thin walls to a two-story 110 square-meter house for just ¥40,000 more per month.

So you are paying ¥40,000 more than what you were paying for your Tokyo apartment, I would want to pay less if I’m moving outskirts.

Having grown up and lived in cities all my life, I don’t think the country life will work for me!

-8 ( +5 / -13 )

Moving to the outskirts has allowed us to go from a 42-square-meter apartment with paper-thin walls to a two-story 110 square-meter house for just ¥40,000 more per month.

I'm a little surprised it costs more, because you don't have to go that far out from a Japanese city for real estate prices to drop significantly. Into inaka proper and they collapse. 25 minutes walk should be under 10 minutes by bike, including locking it at both ends and waiting at traffic lights etc.

The article doesn't mention it but part of this is an age thing. If you are young, its good to be where the action is. I left the city when I was 32 because I wasn't going out as much and wanted to do other things.

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Maybe compared with Ginza or Roppongi, but Mitaka is not inaka. It is considered outskirts if Tokyo, but it is one of the most popular residential areas in Tokyo area. Quite expensive too, as compared with other areas similarly distanced from downtown Tokyo.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

In my 30 years living here, only the first six months were spent in Tokyo. I haven't been to Tokyo since 2002. I now live in a seaside countryside place. I pay less for a modern 6 LDK than a one-room Tokyo apartment.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

A lot of smart people I know have long left Japan because they stayed way too long in Tokyo. They could not withstand the stress. During reunions, one can also tell the grumpiest of the bunch are those who are living in Tokyo condominiums or apartments. The ones with less wrinkles and happy outlooks are those who have long left Tokyo and settled in the suburbs while still keeping their Tokyo jobs.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Interesting how people wanna keep having this same old city-inaka discussion; it depends on the person; and older people prefer the outskirts, suburbs or the countryside, (younger people, not so much) that’s just the way it is. I (still) love my cozy place in central Tokyo, Tokyo Metro, the anonymity, the skyline, the skyscrapers, neon lights, endless entertainment and the feeling of being connected to the world. Don’t get me wrong; I love my family, nature, barbecues and silence, but recharging our batteries and having a nice weekend (far from Tokyo) in one particular place is different from actually living there. I guess a) I can still see the difference and b) I can still handle a city like Tokyo;


“ pros and cons “, folks; just like everything else in life.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Even if you live in the outskirts, you are very close to the best city in the world !!..

Rather live in Ginza.

1000% agree..

What purse would you buy in Ginza?..

Dior?, Gucci?, Velentino??.. LOOOOL !!..

-15 ( +0 / -15 )

You dont have to be out of the 23-ku to live a very pleasant, stress-free life in Tokyo.

I wouldnt live anywhere else outside of the 3-ku across Arakawa river (Adachi, Katsushika, Edogawa), mostly because I'd find it hard to do everything without a car.

Sunday early morning is the only time of the week I can actually unplug from work/family, get into my car and go for the groceries, big home improvement stores, drugstore, gas station, Nishimatsuya for my kid's nappies, electronics shop, Don Quijote etc. all in 1 round and be back home before 10:30am.

Free parking everywhere helps me get what I want and dash out of the place in 10min.

I have absolutely no clue how families can live in central Tokyo, even owning a car.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Sounds boring to me!

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

Tokyo is absolutely brilliant to live in if you've got the money (or know the city well enough) for a spacious though. I wouldn't live anywhere else at the moment.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Inaka life suits me far better, I’ve never regretted leaving Tokyo. There’s nothing to do there Each to their own though etc

Dior?, Gucci?, Velentino??.. LOOOOL !!..


You should know that you aren’t as funny as you seem to think that you are.

4 ( +7 / -3 )


“ pros and cons “, folks; it’s not supposed to be perfect, just like everything else in life.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

the best city in the world !!..

'Lol' indeed

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As living in the exact area as the writer of this article...I wholeheartedly disagree that Mitaka or Musashino City is the "boonies". Convinces me they have no clue what they're talking about.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Instead of earning more and rent a better located apartment with more space they take food from their plate and listen to the birds, like taking a pill.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I live in Setagaya-ku and it is a nice area with plentiful rentals, BUT if you ever get to the point you want to buy most decent places for a family start from 60 million yen, with 80 million yen being more common.

Past performance is no indicator of future price movements etc. but second hand mansions in Tokyo, especially popular parts like Setagaya, have gone up in value continuously for about 10 years now. Yes, real estate in other parts of the country is in dire straits. In some towns, they can't give houses away. But in Tokyo they have been going up, emphasizing that old saying about location, location, location. If there is demand for it, as there is with Tokyo real estate, then I suppose the Anglo country view of real estate as an investment and renting as money down the drain can be used. Loans in Japan are extremely cheap by world standards, its 6% in the USA now. so buying may well make more sense than renting to put a roof over your family's head. You can come out ahead even if the price of your place does fall.

Disclaimer again about what may happen to prices.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

We walked from the Ghibli Museum to the station. What a beautiful area. Very nice...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I lived in Koganai and Mitaka, both very nice.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Mitaka is not inaka, I wouldn’t really even call it outskirts, tachikawa or hachioji is.

With such good public transport, everywhere in the Tokyo area is accessible. I personally wouldn’t want to to live in an apartment (or ‘mansion’ same thing), as it wouldn’t really support my lifestyle and stage in life, but for singles or couples in their 20s/30s it makes sense.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Maybe there is a typo and the station is Mitake, not Mitaka. The next station to Mitaka is Kichijoji, which gets more crowded than Shinjuku on weekends and is really expensive.

I live near her original neighborhood, on the opposite side of the sprawling and quiet riverside park she mentions. I also hear crickets every night and bird throughout the day, while very little traffic goes past on the narrow street outside our home, mostly dog walkers and cyclists.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

And driving up rents and house prices for those of us who have never wanted to live in Tokyo and always lived in the “boonies” (how condescending are you?!). Please stay in Tokyo.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Aannnddd…Mitaka is hardly the “boonies”….it’s 17mins on the Chuo line to Shinjuku!! LLF!

look at me Ma, I live in the country!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

When the kids were young, the Ms. had to be in the office until late at night, etc. there was no way that I would have lived in the "boonies" (More like bedroom communities) of Tokyo. It was just too much time on the train. Too many missed dinners with the kids. And education that was far too parochial.

Now that the kids are gone and we can work from virtually anywhere, I have begun daydreaming of packing up for the REAL Boonies.

I am still daydreaming but I noticed that I could live like a virtual Daimyo on our combined salaries in Tottori. I found a 53 sq. m Apartment on line for not much more than the cost of a 1 room flopper in Tokyo. I really only need to be in the office 4-5 days a month and I could easily commute that much.

Quiet (perhaps too quiet) and I don't care anymore if people look at me funny. I would honestly prefer a semi-isolated existence.

It just seemed like the problems of the wider world were, well, a world away.

On the other hand, under the category, the grass is always greener, perhaps after 3 months I would be pulling my hair out at the infrequent public transports, lack of uber eats (and starbucks) and the need to have a car for the first time in 30 years and be ready for the hustle and bustle again.

Perhaps an in-between?

My first haunt in Japan (32 years ago) was Fukuoka. I could definitely do that again.

I can't say that I dislike Tokyo per say. And as a home owner, I am not subject to the tight digs at high cost.

I am just ready for a break from the hustle and bustle of it all.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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