Korea- The cost of an average month

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.

Total– 906,000won.

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.

If you have any comments, leave them below!


10 things I couldn’t live without in Korea.

It always amazes me how people who haven’t been to Korea assume that we have no internet and that I live in some random village in the back of beyonds where people don’t talk to me and I have no friends.  Well, that’s totally not the case.  Everything anyone needs in life can be found here, so here’s the top 10 things I couldn’t live without;

1. T-money card– Otherwise know as your trasportation card.  You just top it up with money and away you go.  You can use it on subways and buses and in Seoul, taxis.  Since I don’t have a car (yet) I use this ever day to go and come home from school.  So easy to use and they come as a charm so you can attach it to your phone or keys (see picture).

2. Laptop– Korea has some of the fastest internet in the world.  If I didnt have my laptop, I literally couldnt survive.  Of course, I could also use a P.C. Bang in an absolute emergency but it’s all about the laptop for me…………

3. A.R.C.- or Alien Registration Card.  The card you get when you arrive and you need it for everything, get a phone, bank account, doctors etc…..so I couldn’t live without mine.

4. Transportation; The transportation system here is the business.  The buses always run on time, theres several buses going the same direction so always a choice.  Subway is the same, clean, effective, sometimes a little crowded but what can you do????????

5.  Barry’s Tea & my kettle:  A ridiculous reason but I couldn’t live in Korea if I couldn’t drink tea.  What would be the point???? What would I offer people who came over??????? What would I drink in the morning????? or the afternoon?????or at night??????? or in the early morning after a few drinks????????????

6.  Phone– I love my phone. It keeps me up to date any time any place. I can check emails, tweet about ridiculous stuff, check facebook, use Google maps to make me not so lost…  And it makes phone calls……..

7. I-pod: All those mornings, I miss the bus and have to wait 10 minutes would be so boring if I hadn’t my I-pod.  The headphones also serve as a people deterant.  If theres someone you’d rather not talk to, simply put in your headphones and guaranteed they won’t come near you.

8. Bank: This one is a bit random but I couldn’t live here if I didn’t have my bank account.  I mean, ok, I could keep my money in my apartment (or spend it as fast as I could) but how would I send it home? Not having a bank account would only encourage me to spend every penny.  And not only that but sending my money to Ireland is sooooooooo easy.  And I enjoy the process. Unlike Ireland, the system in the bank is excellent.  Get a ticket for the area you want (regular teller, money exchange), go to that section and wait for your number to be called.  And the people in the bank are so great, they bring you the forms in advance to as to save time late, put your umbrella in plastic, offer you coffee while you wait and then they find some randomer who speaks English to serve you, should Korean be an inconvienence.  Excellent…….

9. 02-1330- Tourist Information Line– No one understands how great this number is.  It’s the magic number and the woman is the magic woman (although I’m fairly sure it’s different women but whatever).  So if you need to know anything remotely touristy in Seoul, just call and ask and they’ll tell you.  Seriously, you have no idea how brilliant it is…….. 

10. Jihachul app– Actually I don’t know how to spell 지하철 in English, sorry, but it’s this amazing app of the subways in Korea.  You simply choose the stop you leave from and the stop you’re going to and it calculates the fastest way/ fewest transfers/ how long it’ll take EVERYTHING! It’s in English so the days of getting on the wrong subway are well and truly over.