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Taking a look at scholarships and how to save money! International student finances in Kobe

Just how much money do international students living in Japan actually need to live on, and what are their main expenses?
We’ve put together information on just how much money you might need as an international student, to try to provide some useful information for prospective students. Once you know how much you can expect to spend studying abroad in Japan, you’ll be able to plan better, and feel more secure about life after study abroad, too!

1. How much does it actually cost to live in Japan?

First, let’s take a look at the example of two students already studying in Kobe. There are some small differences, but we were able to see that both of them needed about 2,200,000 yen for a year.
(Source: Survey taken with Kobe universities)

A, a first-year student at Kobe University (a public university)



Memo Price (yen) Price (dollars)


Matriculation fee ¥282,000 $1,974

Course fee (1 year)



Rent (1 year) Room sharing in a dormitory for international students 40,000 yen/month (including utilities) ¥480,000 $3,360
Food expenses Including 2-3 meals out per month 40,000 yen/month ¥480,000 $3,360
Transportation expenses Train use 10,000 yen/month ¥120,000


Phone/communications expenses

7,000 yen/month ¥84,000 $588
Health insurance 2,000 yen/month ¥24,000 $168
Other 15,000 yen/month ¥180,000


Total ¥2,185,800


B, a fourth-year student at the University of Marketing and Distribution Sciences (a private university)


Memo Price (yen)

Price (dollars)


800,000 yen ¥800,000


Rent (1 year) One room, single occupancy 53,000 yen/month (including utilities) ¥636,000 $4,452
Food expenses Including 1-2 meals out per month 35,000 yen/month ¥420,000 $2,940
Transportation expenses Train use 8,000 yen/month ¥96,000


Phone/communications expenses

4,000 yen/month ¥48,000 $336
Health insurance 3,000 yen/month ¥36,000 $252
Other 15,000 yen/month ¥180,000





*Rates are those of July 2023

2. Details on various fees and how to save money

School Fees
Annual tuition fees at universities in Kobe range from around 500,000 yen to 1.5 million yen, depending on the course and major.There are also various systems in place to offer tuition reductions and exemptions, as well as scholarships that may be available under certain conditions, so if you find a school that interests you, be sure to inquire.
For more information on scholarships available at universities in Kobe, please click here.

If the school you attend has a dormitory, staying in one is probably the best way to lower fees. There may be limits on the number of occupants and when you can move into dorms, though, so please be aware of this. We suggest inquiring with your school.
You could also live in Kobe City housing. It takes about a month to process and review an application , but applications are on a first-come-first-served basis, and housing may be full, so please keep this in mind.
Room sharing isn’t as common in Japan as it is in some other countries, so many people live in one-room apartments, but share houses are becoming increasingly popular. By sharing the common living spaces with others, you can keep down your cost of living and make friends at the same time! If this type of housing interests you, try searching for “Kobe City share house,” etc!

Food Expenses
If you want to save money, it’s best to cook your meals at home, but you can also eat at school cafeterias and restaurants with set meals at relatively low prices. Restaurants located near school campuses in particular may offer discounts for students (“gakuwari”), so be sure to check for this when you eat out! For prices on common food items in Japan, please see this article.

Transportation and Communications Expenses
Many companies offer student discounts for commuter passes and cell phone contracts. Don’t forget that you’ll need proof that you’re a student, like a student ID card or proof of school attendance. It’s also a good idea to do some research on the cell phone company you’d like to use in advance, as you may be able to save a little money by using an e-SIM, instead of a physical SIM card.

Health Insurance Expenses
With health insurance in Japan, you’ll need to pay 30% of the fee for treatment for your illness or injury out of pocket (this doesn’t include treatments for which insurance doesn’t apply). In Japan, foreign people who stay in the country for more than three months are required to enroll in the National Health Insurance system. Insurance premiums are calculated based on your previous year’s income, and there is a system whereby premiums are reduced if your income is below a certain level. You’ll need to declare this, so be sure to look into the declaration procedure in the area where you live.

Points systems to help you save money
Using a variety of discounts to help you save money is one way to better control your finances, but don’t forgot about the many different point systems that stores and services in Japan offer! If you make good use of these points at different shops, you should be able to save a bit on daily expenses!

Aside from simply saving, just how much do international students typically make at a part-time job?
Currently, foreigners who come to Japan for the purpose of studying abroad can earn up to 1.3 million yen per year tax-free (*). For more information on popular part-time jobs for university students and how to find one, please refer to this article!

*Some types of schools may not qualify for tax exemption, so please check with your school.

So there you have it: a few ways for international students in Kobe to save some money.
We hope some of the information presented here will help you to plan out a wonderful study abroad experience.

For more useful information about studying abroad in Kobe, see here.