Living Costs in Korea


How Much Can Save?

living costs in korea

We averaged the general numbers of the living costs in South Korea so that you can expect how much money you can save based on simple formula of Make – Costs – Save.

Here is a breakdown for your quick look.

How Much Make Monthly? $1,900

  • The average starting salary for a 1st year ESL teacher in Korea is around 2.1m KRW per month which is about $1,900 USD. (the conversion rate, 1 USD = 1,100 KRW)

How Much Cost Monthly? $900 ($830 – $1,020)

  • Accommodation: $0
    Your school provides a furnished free housing!
  • Tax: $60
    3.3% of your monthly income
  • Pension: $85
    You pay 4.5% of your monthly income, and your employer matches the 4.5%. Canadian and American citizens can get then total 9% pension amount back when they leave Korea. South Africans have the right to opt out of paying pension, as they do not qualify for getting pension back. Australian, New Zealand, British and Irish employees are required to pay into the pension plan, but unfortunately won’t be able to get it back.
  • Insurance: $45
    You pay 2.24% of your monthly income, and your employer matches the 2.24%.
  • Utilities: $90 – $180
    You will pay utilities between ₩100,000 and ₩200,000 per month ($90–$180) for use of electricity, gas, phone, and internet.
  • Transportation: $50
    Public transportation in Korea is quite clean/advanced/affordable. A one-way ride on the bus or subway is around ₩1,200 ($1), depending where you live.Cabs charge a starting rate of $3 when you hop in, and a 20-30 min cab ride will be around $12-20.A monthly pass averages around $50. If you live within walking distance of work, you might only pay about $25 or less per month for transportation.
  • Food: $200 – $300
    It all depends on how much you want to embrace the local food or not. Eating Korean food is not only cheap, but it’s abundant and healthy. Bibimbap (mixed rice), Kimchi Jjigae (kimchi stew), and Mandu (dumplings), all of which you can get for under ₩6,000 ($6). Most Korean meals are also served with free side dishes. 간편식Cooking will reduce your food costs, especially if your ingredients consist of Korean produce as rice, spinach, onions, potatoes, cabbage, carrots, pork, beans. Fruits and dairy products are expensive in Korea. Buying in bulk at Costco is a great way to save money on food. Costco’s business in South Korea is booming, where the warehouse giant has 16 locations in South Korea, making it the sixth largest Costco market in the world. And its online shopping mall is at
  • Shopping/Heath/Beauty/Nightlife/Travel: $300
    It all depends how much you spend on these extra activities.

How Much Save Monthly? $1,000 ($880 – $1,070)

  • The bottom line is that you’d save around $1,000 monthly after all the costs/expenses considered!
  • This means you can have a rewarding life in Korea in terms of Work, Live, Play and Extra Savings when you get back to home!