I have some friends that intend to move here later in the year. We’ve been skyping regularly and I’ve been filling them with stories from the Land of Morning Calm. One of the things they inquired about was the cost of living. The following is an example of what I spend in the average month. For the most part, I’ve over estimated to be on the safe side. This is for one person living in a two room apartment.
Petrol– 50,000 (full tank) x 2- 100,000won Could be more if I drive to Seoul.
Phone– 69,000 (unlimited calls and data) + 10,000 (cost of phone)
Utilities– 9,000 (electricity) 88,000 (gas) (Winter costs) Based on one person in the apartment.
Travel– T Money card. 10,000 per week. Usually head to Seoul every weekend. 40,000
Food– Grocery shopping once a week. Average- 50,000won
Eating out– Wintertime, I eat out about once a week. If I go for Galbi or some meal with others, the cost is usually 10,000. If we eat single meals, the cost varies. Average 13,500won. For this example, we’ll say I eat shared meals once a week for the month.
Going out– If you’re drinking and staying out, the average Saturday night will cost you about 100,000. Everyone is different though so this cost is variable. For this example, we’ll consider 2 nights out in the month.
Misc- Clothes, accessories. 150,000 won a month. Cinema tickets for a regular movie will cost 9,000won. Popcorn and coke usually cost 7,500won. A cup of Americano in a regular coffee shop is about 2,500won.
If you consider the average wage for an English teacher to be about 2.2 million before taxes, you could still come out with 2 million. This still leaves you the opportunity to save half of what you make and still live very comfortably every month.
Costs are variable on the season also- I do a lot less in winter but others go skiing and snowboarding etc. In summer, electricity costs are higher because of air conditioning.
Summer and Winter I take a vacation which are additional costs.
My car insurance is an annual cost. Last year it was about 670,000won for fully comprehensive and the installation of a black box.
My friend Evan, after reading the initial draft of this blog had the following to say about his experience here;
It’s definitely possible to get by comfortably for far less if a person’s goal is to save more money. I pay 5,000 KRW a month pre-paid for phone service, using a Galaxy S2 that cost me 80,000 KRW. Text all I want. No data, but I use wifi at home or at various businesses I’ve found.
No car means no petrol, car payment, insurance, maintenance, etc. Subways and buses are cheap enough.
I will have managed to save over 20 million krw in 14 months, making around 2.1 million a month. That’s after having to pay for my own flight over (hagwon screwed me there), unexpected moving fees, etc. Pretty good considering.
My first year, however, I didn’t save quite as much. I ate out more frequently. The bars added up, too. I still did okay, even without watching my money closely that year.
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