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House prices across the world are a great source of stress for many, whether you are a first time buyer looking to get on the property ladder or someone looking to move up a rung or two. In London for example, prices have been increasing to near impossible levels for many (despite some recent downturns) pricing them out of the area. It’s very much a similar case in terms of renting and exorbitant monthly costs. 

Being a Japan centric site, my thoughts often wander to the situation in Tokyo which is often regarded as one of the most expensive cities in the world, alongside London. So, how do the prices compare? What can you get for the money? 

Let’s take an in depth look at the Tokyo vs London property market to see just how comparable they really are.

Tokyo vs London prices

To start with, taking a look at the average house prices for each city is a logical way of getting an idea of how they compare, at least on face value. However, it should be noted that due to differences in the systems and variables in each country, an absolute direct comparison is difficult to fully achieve. 


Starting here at home, average London property prices over the last 12 months was £516,000 which covers all property types in all 32 London boroughs. This is data sourced from the Land Registry UK Price Index’s most recent report from October 2023 and shows the average properties actual selling price.

However the average cost of a London property according to the asking price is around £725,000 which is the index method for estate agents such as Rightmove and Zoopla. 

The UK price index is often regarded as being much more reliable data when it comes to the sums of money being paid.

In terms of renting a property the average figure is around £2600 a month.


In Tokyo, getting an absolute average is more difficult to acquire, however there are still numbers to be viewed. Here it depends on what you class as ‘Tokyo’. 

In ‘Central Tokyo’, which includes the most central 3-5 wards of the city (much like Westminster and the city of London), the average price for new apartments is approximately 129,000,000 yen or £712,000. This data comes from reports by The Japan Times and is corroborated by similar articles such as those found in Japan Property Central. 

If you expand this to include all of Tokyo’s 23 wards (equivalent to Greater London) then the average becomes approximately 71.360,000 yen or £393,907. This is according to the Tokyo Kansai Real Estate company. 

For renting in Tokyo the average cost is 203,730 yen a month or £1124. This is according to GaijinPot who have a fantastic table detailing average rent costs across all 23 wards for many property types — definitely worth a look for a more detailed report.

Shinjuku skyline
A view from Shinjuku

Note: Newer property is more expensive in Japan than older property.

Additional Fees

The base price of a property isn’t the only thing to think about here. There are plenty of additional fees and services associated with the purchasing process that should be considered in this comparison.



  • Stamp duty – 5 – 12% of property price.
  • Mortgage booking – fee to secure the property loan
  • Mortgage arrangement – setup fee for mortgage lender 
  • Survey – fee for house inspection
  • Solicitors/conveyancing – legal costs when using a solicitor
  • Agent fee – fee for estate agents


  • Stamp duty – no more than 600,000 yen
  • Mortgage administration costs – similar to booking and arrangement
  • Survey – fee for house inspection
  • Real estate registration tax – applicable on property change of ownership
  • Real estate acquisition tax – tax after acquiring property, normally 3-6 months later.
  • Solicitors/conveyancing – legal costs when using a solicitor
  • Agent fee – fee for estate agents
  • Asset tax – annual tax based on fixed assets (land, houses etc.)
  • City tax – Tax levied to assist city planning and redevelopment

As you can see there are a few more people that need paying when it comes to buying a property in Japan, and may work out more expensive compared to the UK/London process.

What do you get?

Ok so what do you actually get for these kinds of average figures in each city? In both cases there are a few variables, such as distance from the centre as well as from transport links and schools etc.


In London for around £500,000 you can get within half a mile of the centre of London meaning you are really amongst the heart of the city. These for the most part are 1 bed apartments and flats; very occasionally a small 2 on the edge of that radius, offering modern and functional space for a young couple. 

99% of these however are leasehold, meaning there will be additional charges on the property and possible restrictions to what you can do to it. 

To get something a little bigger, perhaps a substantial 2 or 3 bedroom terraced house you would need to have a substantially bigger budget of at least £700,000 – which is nearer the Rightmove average. However, going around 5 miles out from the centre of London to the east borough of Newham or West to Brent would be the kind of areas you would need to go to get this kind of  property for around 500k.

These will also more than likely be older properties that require a bit of work to get them turned into modern living spaces. However compared to Tokyo based properties, you will most likely get a bit more space to play with, much more choice in layout, and far greater redecorating and extension opportunities.

London brixton
A view from Brixton


Going back to Tokyo things are a little bit different here again, however it is actually easier to calculate what you get for your money thanks to the way the Japanese often release average prices per square metre. Recently the price per square metre in Tokyo is around 1.1million yen; on a budget of £500,000 or 90 million yen, we get about 81 square metres, or 873 square feet. 

In more regular terms, a budget of 90 – 100 million yen can get you quite a lot.

It’s worth noting here that much of the property in Tokyo are condominiums or apartments, although houses do exist. Houses in Tokyo however are often spread over 3 floors and so are taller than they are wide. 

First off, you aren’t limited to just 1 bedroom or studio flat properties. For the average property price in London you can find ample supply of 2 and 3 bedroom properties across much of the Tokyo landscape. It is even possible to find property within the aforementioned ‘Central Tokyo’ which includes Shibuya and Shinjuku wards although these will be considerably smaller in square footage and mostly one or two bedrooms. 

Moving further out to areas such as Edogawa or Adachi wards is where you will be able to find more houses over apartments. Even 4 bed houses are not out of the question here and often below budget. 

No matter what you go for, layouts are almost entirely open plan, combining lounge, dining, and kitchen areas into one sizable room. Most will have a small outside space in the form of a balcony complete with modern finishes. One thing that is always well advertised is the addition of well-serviced lobby and communal areas.

Toshima city
Toshima City apartment buildings

Note: Japanese properties depreciate in value the moment they become occupied.


There is a lot to consider in this comparison. On the face of it, property in Tokyo seems to be a bit more affordable if we compare average prices and what you get for it. There is more choice of property in terms of requirements for different families or couples, as well generally not needing to restrict your search radius quite so much, although additional fees may bite harder than London counterparts.

In London you may have to look further out to get the property you want at the price, but they often come with more options for the future and potential bigger in size. They are also a far better investment opportunity as property in London/UK generally increase in price rather than depreciate as they get older, as is the case in Tokyo/Japan.