How Much Does it Cost to Live in Korea?

I currently work with GOE, a program similar to EPIK, to teach in South Korea. Here are my main monthly expenses to help you get an idea of how much it costs to live in Korea. To know the details on how much money I make, check out this post.

What’s Taken Out of my Paycheck

My monthly salary is 2,300,000 won per month. Leaves 2,129,800

  • Pension: 4.5% or 103,500 per month
  • Health Care: 2.9% or 66,700 per month

You don’t pay taxes if you’re from the US for your first two years (but you need a special document).

Main Living Expenses

The bill situation is a little different for everyone. Some don’t have to pay for maintenance, some have a separate water bill, some have to pay for expensive internet. Some have their floor heating system hooked up to electricity and not gas, which can make it a little more expensive. Leaves: 1,720,000 on average.

  • Electricity: 12,000 a month, can go up to 20,000 in the summer when I turn my aircon on.
  • Gas: 20,000 a month, can go up to 45,000 in the winter due to floor heating
  • Water/Internet/Maintenance: 300,000 every six months lump payment (or 50,000 a month saving for it)
  • Cellphone Bill: 39,600 per month
  • Bus to/from work: around 70,000 (prices went up and I have a school I need transfer to mid-day sometimes)
  • Food supplies: 150-200,000. I do not pay for school lunches. I opted to make everything at home myself, so my bill is higher than it has to be. Especially as I use a lot of foreign, expensive ingredients (I love to cook/bake).

Other Expenses:

Just to give an idea of what some other common expenses might be.

  • Eating Out: Around twice a week, average meal is 12,000won (this is actually rather high, when I eat out it tends to be BBQ, foreign, or a meal + cafe afterwards. I would say the average non-BBQ meal at a Korean restaurant is 3-6,000). This is the main way I socialize in Korea so it’s worth it.
  • Weekend Travel (2x per month): Including intercity bus/train tickets, housing in a hostel, activities, etc. 200,000 a month.
  • TaeKwonDo (2x per week): 100,000 per month. Similar to a gym membership, or other similar activity such as dance.
  • Taxis: I use these way too much because I perceive them to be so cheap. Going downtown can take me 40min for 1,500 or 15 for 7,000. I probably spend around 35,000 on taxis a month.
  • Movies: I either buy a TV show season or go to the movies once a month, which can cost around 20,000 depending on the theater.
  • Transfer fees: transferring money here is a pain. It’s around 40,000 per transfer, which I do around every two months. Some people have to do it monthly though.

And that’s how much it costs to live in Korea! The remainder goes towards my student loans, retirement account, and savings towards my bigger trips to Italy, Japan, and my end-of-contract travel plans. And regular fun things! I needed a new computer so I was able to get one, I have a few monthly subscriptions, a set of wireless earbuds so my coteacher can’t see that I’m listening to something else while she’s teaching class, etc. I hope this helps you figure out how much it costs to live in Korea!

Check out my other posts: 

Vacation Time with EPIK/GOE

Nara, Japan in a Whirlwind

In Search of Flowers in Yeosu, Korea

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