The Difference Between Living in Kyoto and Tokyo
I am an Indonesian student that is currently studying at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, majoring in International Relations. I used to live in Tokyo for a long time, during my elementary, secondary, and high school education. For university, I only applied to Ritsumeikan University, because of its long history with international relations and because it has classes in English .
Without fail, my friends always ask me about the living conditions in Kyoto. Especially when it comes to how finances in Tokyo and Kyoto differ.
Cost of Living
The biggest factor when comparing Tokyo and Kyoto in terms of living conditions would be the rental fee for an apartment. Considering the room size, surrounding environment, and the distance to school, the apartment rental fee market has a big gap.
For example, the rental fee for one person living within the 23 Tokyo wards can range from ¥60,000 to ¥90,000. To reduce this cost, many students in Tokyo live in suburban areas, which requires them to commute by train for 1 to 2 hours, or they might share a room with a friend. In my case, I was living inside the 23 wards, but the scenery outside my window was a wall and electric wires. By contrast, in Kyoto the rent is relatively cheap, in the range of ¥30,000 to ¥50,000. Within this price range in Kyoto, it is possible to live near to the campus and have a great view from my window.
Tokyo is famous for its train network. Many people use the train as their main form of transportation every day. In Kyoto, on the other hand, it is rare to ride the train, because many people prefer to use city buses or bicycles to get around. Kyoto is a compact city, much smaller than Tokyo, making buses or bicycles much more convenient. Many students in Kyoto in particular use a bicycle as their main form of transportation to save on transportation fees.
Activities During Holidays
For students, holidays are very important. Spending your day off in Tokyo is very different from a day off in Kyoto. In my experience, when I was living in Tokyo, most of the time I went to downtown areas such as Shibuya, Shinjuku, Harajuku, and Akihabara on my days off. Of course, in Tokyo there are a lot of fun places to discover, but you can feel something different in Kyoto. Since I started living in Kyoto, I have tended to go to explore places on my bicycle that are less well-known, or just chill near the Kamogawa River. In Kyoto, I feel that I have become close to nature. Besides, Kyoto is geographically close to Osaka and Shiga, expanding the possibilities for activities during a day off.
Life as a Student
Living in Kyoto as a university student is fun. As you know, Kyoto is a student town, and has a large number of universities. Within Kyoto City, there are 38 Junior Colleges and Universities. Considering how many international students there are from so many different countries and academic background, it is a great chance for students to make new connections with one another. Also, the percentage of university students within the population is 10%, meaning Kyoto City has a very high percentage of students, and the result is that living costs are suitable for students.