NYC Vs. Tokyo: Which City is Better in 2023?

NYC Vs Tokyo

When choosing between two large cities like NYC and Tokyo, one of the dilemmas you might face is which one gives you a quality life. Now, there are many things to consider as far as quality of life goes, hence why you should be keen on the pros and cons of the cities before deciding. 

The major difference between these two cities is the size, with Tokyo taking the lead in land area and population. New York City is known to be a populous city, but in comparison to Tokyo, the size of New York is significantly smaller. 

So, what other differences are there to consider between NYC and Tokyo? This article delves deep into how both cities compare in terms of cost of living, housing, transportation, attraction sites, and general quality of life. 

NYC vs. Tokyo: Cost of Living

How much you will be spending on your day-to-day life is an essential factor before moving to these two cities. Generally, Tokyo is significantly cheaper to live in than NYC. Even though it has a high population density, it provides for many people, and everything is reasonably priced. 

When it comes to the purchasing power of people, New Yorkers have a higher purchasing power than Japanese nationals; however, the difference is negligible. With Tokyo’s reputation as one of the most expensive countries, the slightly lower purchasing power is an advantage. 

How does the cost of living in these two cities manifest in the small, day-to-day expenses of residents? How much will you spend on food, transport, childcare, rent, etc.?

An average meal in Tokyo will cost you about $9 at a restaurant, while a meal of the same class and quality will cost you $20 in New York City. A one-way ticket on a subway will cost you about $1.79 in Tokyo, significantly lower than New York’s average of $2.75 per ticket. 

Childcare in Tokyo is significantly lower, costing about $440 per month. In New York, you would expect to pay at least $2300 per month to have someone take care of your child. So, if you have young children, you might want to factor this in, especially if you are looking to move to NYC. 

Housing in NYC vs. Tokyo

Housing takes a considerable chunk of your monthly budget, especially if you live near the city centers. New York City is known for its insanely high housing prices; therefore, to lead a quality life, you would need to direct a vast sum of your monthly budget to rent. 

For example, a one-bedroom apartment in NYC would cost you about $3,000, whereas the same-standard one-bedroom apartment in Tokyo would cost an average price of $1,100 per month. 

There is a high demand for housing in New York, considering it is not proportional to its large population. So, besides paying top dollar for an apartment, you will face challenges finding high-quality apartments that will offer you value for money. 

The good thing is that the prices go lower as you move farther from the city center. NYC is still the highly-priced one of the two, regardless of where you stay. If you compare square footage, Tokyo’s price per square footage is much better than New York, even though both cities are densely populated.  

Public Transportation in NYC vs. Tokyo

If you are going to move to a big city, you ought to figure out how you will get around. These big cities have established public transportation systems with New York’s Subway and Tokyo’s Tokyo Metro Line, and Toei Lines. 

They are both pretty affordable, but subway systems in Tokyo are significantly cheaper than in New York. Other than the price difference, there is a lot more to write home about the systems in Tokyo, with efficiency, ease of navigation, and cleanliness topping the list. 

You may be wondering how easy it is to use Tokyo’s system, especially if you cannot speak Japanese. The good thing is that the signs on the subway station ground are marked in both Japanese and English. What’s more, Google Maps work pretty well, and you can find your way around the city. 

New York’s subway is known to keep time, but the ones in Tokyo City are much more accurate with time. And, there are new trains every few minutes, so you do not have to spend much time waiting for the next one. 

During rush hour, mass transit gets crazy, with people trying to board the subway in New York, but this is not the case in Tokyo. In Tokyo, there are labels on the train station ground indicating where to queue, and people respect those queues. 

Cultural Attractions

The Japanese city, Tokyo, is superior to New York City in this, being one of the oldest cities in the world. It has a variety of festivals, temples, and uniquely-themed restaurants. This is different from the parades, concerts, and food-truck arrays that New York has. 

Both cities have a lot to offer in terms of attractions and whichever works for you depends on your interests. For example, the vibe of Times Square, Central Park, and the Hudson River in New York is entirely different from Shinto, Buddhist, and other geographical landmarks in Tokyo. 

There is so much to see and experience in both cities; it depends on how much you are willing to part with and the kind of entertainment you are after. You can indulge in ninja classes in Tokyo for $100 or go ham and enjoy the helicopter rides and Broadway plays in New York City. 

Both cities are culturally rich; however, New York is more expensive to experience than Tokyo. The cost of a play or concert, together with a food experience, will cost you more in New York than in the capital of Japan. 

Crime Rate in NYC vs. Tokyo

Crime rates in these two cities are significantly different. According to Numbeo, Tokyo has a crime index of 23.56 while New York has a crime index of 48.22. This shows that crime rates in New York are double those of Tokyo. 

Both cities are relatively safe to live in. However, Tokyo leads on the safety scale marking at 76.44, whereas New York records a safety scale of 51.78. Tokyo is the better one in terms of lower crime rates and more safety. 


Tokyo is a fantastic place to live in, better than New York in terms of quality of life. New York has its perks and offers a fast-paced environment hence ideal for those looking for a challenge. On the other hand, Tokyo is more friendly and affordable to start a life. 

It is important to note that both cities have significant cultural differences, and it could be a significant factor in deciding where you live. As a westerner from the United States, living in Tokyo might be a challenge, and you would need to do a lot of adjusting and learning to fit into the Asian culture.

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