Teaching English in Korea
Copyright 2009 - 2011 ESLSouthKorea.net
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Cost of Living in Korea
Is it really possible to save money when working in Korea? It's most definitely is and the low cost of living in Korea is a big attributing factor.
The cost of living in Korea is quite low compared to other Asians countries like China and Japan. Despite the fact that Korea is a 1st world country, with all the technological perks and luxuries that accompany living in the richest countries in the world, general day-by-day living is still surprisingly low.
People often make the mistake of taking the cost of a product in Korea by converting it into dollars and then comparing that to what the product would cost in the States. Americans often arrive in Korea and convert everything from batteries to coke cans into their dollar value and are shocked that things are so 'expensive'. A high school teacher would have given you a stern rebuke, cause this is bad math. The cost of living is determined by comparing how much things cost in comparison to how much you earn.
Let's use an example: Let's say the average salary in Denmark is 100 Euro per month and the price of a Big Mac is 5 Euro. In Korea the average salary is 150 Won per month and Big Mac will also run you 5 Won. This means you're able to buy more in Korea with what you earn than you would be in Denmark - THAT means the cost of living in Korea is lower... Just a hypothetical illustration to give you a clue what I'm talking about.
Now with that in mind you'll see that general cost of living in Korea is nice and low and the fact that you're able to buy 800 Big Mac's with your monthly salary will testify to this fact.
Since Korea is a country with a high population density, housing is expensive and rent takes a big cut of your monthly salary. But ah, the wonder of teaching English in South Korea - your employer pays your rent! So no need to worry about monthly rent payments, you work your budget to pay bills, entertainment and living expenses.
Here's a breakdown of the prices of a few general shopping list products in Korea. This should give you an idea of the cost of living in Korea:
- 1 liter of milk: 2,000 Won
- Dozen Eggs: 2,500 Won
- Bus Fare : 1,000 Won
- Subway: 1,000 Won
- Taxi basic fare: 2,200 Won
- Movie ticket: 7,000 Won
- Bottled beer in a bar: 5,000 Won
- Bottled beer in a store: 2,000 Won
- Dry cleaning a shirt: 2,000 Won
- Standard Laundromat fee: 5,000 Won
- Korean Meal in a Korean Diner: 4,500 Won (Rice, Soup, Kimchi, Noodles)
- Korean Meal at a meat Restaurent: 6,000 - 10,000 Won per person
- Monthly Utility fees for a bachelors flat: 15,000-70,000 Won
- CD players: 100,000 Won
- CDs: 15,000 Won
- Soap: 1,000 Won
- Shampoo: 6,000 - 12,000
- Toothpaste: 4,000 Won
- Toothbrushes: 4,800 Won
- Toilet paper: 8,000 Won for a pack of 10.
- Cigarettes: 2,500 Won per pack
- Haircut: 8,000 for a cut and up to 60,000 for a perm.
- Books: 10,000 - 20,000 Won
- Shirts: 15,000 - 30,000 Won
With a salary of 2.2 Million Won you can therefore buy approximately:
2200 Bars of soap
440 Big Mac Meals at McDonald's
70 Meals like Steak or Ribs at a Western Diner
1 Big Plasma Screen Television
The United Nations also reported Seoul to be one of the most expensive cities in the world, but this again only pertains to those poor souls who have to pay rent. English Teachers are spared this large expense and can usually save between 40% - 60% of their salaries.