Living Cost in Korea
Average living cost in Korea is quite fair. It is not as inexpensive as living in Laos or China, but it is also not as expensive as living in Japan or Singapore. Seoul, the nation’s capital, has, on average, the highest cost of living. Everywhere else, expats may anticipate earning a reasonable pay and saving a substantial portion of it without having to pinch pennies or live on a strict budget. When comparing South Korea’s cities, expats will find the highest cost of living in Seoul. However, this still does not mean that the cost of living in the capital city is exorbitantly high. Foreigners moving to the country have their choice of paying extra and living in expat-centric high-rises and compounds or you can live on the outskirts of the city in more local communities.
After Seoul, the other most expensive places in which to live in South Korea are Incheon, Jeju Island, and Busan. Below is a look at the average monthly living costs in Korea for each city. On a national level, a family of four can expect to spend an average of 2,300,000 KRW per month (2,000 USD) in living expenses (excluding rent). A single expat can expect to pay 652,000 KRW (560 USD) per month (excluding rent).
1) Four-person monthly living expenses on average (excluding rent)
Urban KRW USD Seoul 2,700,000 2,300 Incheon 1,900,000 1,600 Jeju Island 1,200,000 1,000 Busan 3,345,000 2,900.
2) Monthly Living Expenses on Average for a Single Expat (including rent)
City Korean Won US Dollars Seoul 711,000 600 Incheon population 665 000 560 Jeju Island 540,000 460 Busan 690,000 590.
For a glance at the rents in each of the mentioned cities, please refer to the table below.
Apartment with Three Bedrooms, Monthly Rent:
City, KRW, USD Incheon 1,170,000 1,000 Seoul 2,600,000 2,200 Jeju Island 1,170,000 1,000 Busan 1,170,000 1,000.
Monthly Rent for a Studio Apartment:
City KRW USD Seoul 818,000 700 Incheon 4,670,400 Jeju Island 700,400 600 Busan 525,000 450.
To find South Korea’s most affordable cities, you will need to leave the main urban regions and head to smaller, mid-sized cities with fewer foreigners and more native Koreans. These expat-friendly cities include Daegu (near Busan), Suwon (south of Seoul), and Gwangju (in the southwest of the nation).
In South Korea, utilities will not significantly increase the cost of your rent. With the absence of internet, the majority of services, including gas, electricity, and water, are provided by the government.
Utilities typically cost somewhat more than 100,000 KRW per month (84 USD).
The Cost of a Meal at the School Cafeteria
The cafeteria is typically open from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm every day. It also means that you can consume three meals here. Typically, each portion will include rice, soup, and banchan (). Side foods like kimchi, pickled radish, or japchae (mixed fried vegetables glass noodles). In addition to classic rice dishes, students may also choose from black paste noodles, kimchi, seaweed, and unique pajeon (pancakes). Numerous student cafeterias serve Western meals such as macaroni, chips, pasta, and salads, among others.
A lunch might cost between 4,000 won and 6,000 won ($3 to $5).
Meals can be ordered by period or month. The lunch will typically cost between 2,000 and 4,000 won (depending on the school). less expensive than restaurant food.
If you consume all three meals at the school cafeteria, it will cost between 180,000 and 400,000 won each month.
Costs for Cooked Meals and Groceries
This is a great approach for students to save money and prepare meals that better fit their tastes. The most cost-effective option is to go to the market to get fresh food and cook it yourself. Unlike the supermarket, the market requires you to speak Korean fluently in order to inquire about prices, negotiate, or instruct the butcher to cut the meat according to your specifications. Jegi-Dong Market and Majang Market are two of the most popular markets frequented by students.
Monthly Cost of Groceries of the total living cost in Korea, is on Average $35 – $90
If you purchase local goods, groceries are relatively affordable in Korea. Larger grocery stores in Korea offer Western grocery stores and products at a premium price. Students typically spent approximately $25 per week on food for a single Korean resident who ate school lunch five days per week.
Here are some average food store prices from Numbeo that have been rounded for clarity:
1 liter Milk: ₩2,500 | $2.25
1 Loaf White Bread: ₩3,000 | $2.70
1 Dozen Eggs: ₩3,000 | $2.70
1kg Chicken Fillets: ₩10,600 | $9.50
1kg Beef Round: ₩33,000 | $30.00
1kg Apples: ₩8,100 | $7.25
1kg Bananas: ₩4,000 | $3.60
1kg Tomatoes: ₩6,500 | $5.80
1kg Potatoes: ₩4,000 | $3.60
Meals at student-friendly restaurants can cost anywhere between 3,000 and 8,000 won.
Additionally, snacks are available in the communities surrounding institutions. Students frequently eat at traditional food carts in Seoul’s well-known districts Hongik, Ehwa, Konkuk, and Kyunghee. Tokbokki (rice cakes), Sundae, udon (grilled fish cakes), dakgangjeong (breaded fried chicken coated in sauce), and cakes can be purchased for between 1,000 and 3,000 won per dish.
Foreign students have access to the food market as well. A lunch here will cost between 10,000 and 15,000 won in total.
When dining at restaurants, students frequently order chicken or pork barbeque. These restaurants range in price from 8,000 to 20,000 won each meal. Or, if they visit the unique cafés and tea shops, students will spend between 4,000 and 8,000 won for beverages and 6,000 and 15,000 won for snacks or sweets.
Students often spend 350,000 won per month if they eat at inexpensive traditional restaurants serving kimbap, beef soup, and bibimbap () and 3-4 times a month if they dine at upscale restaurants. Otherwise, regular visits to costly cafes and restaurants will cost you a fortune!
The cost of transportation in South Korea will depend on a number of variables. The first question is whether or not you have your own transportation, such as a vehicle or motorcycle. Or will you be reliant on public transit?
One liter of gas will cost around 1,460 KRW (1.20 USD) or 5,840 KRW per gallon when using your own vehicle (5 USD).
The one-way cost of public transportation between cities in South Korea ranges from 17,860 to 60,000 KRW (about 15 to 50 USD). Subway rides inside cities will cost approximately $2,300 (2 USD). A thirty-minute taxi ride begins at 3,500 KRW (3 USD) and can cost as much as 24,000 KRW (20 USD).
Transportation system in South Korea
In general, South Korea’s public transportation system is well developed and dependable. Taxis, buses, and subways are all inexpensive and may be paid for with a single transportation card.
In Seoul, Busan, Daejeon, Daegu, Incheon, and Gwangju, there are subway lines. On the platforms, information is offered in both Korean and English. There are lockers at many stations where you can store your valuables for a minimal price of 500–1,000 KRW (0.40–0.80 USD) each hour at several stations.
To enter and exit the subway station, your ticket must be validated at the gate. It will display how much you paid for admission and how much money remains on your transportation card.
While many cities have bus services, information and schedules are typically only available in Korean. In addition, drivers rarely know English, so you will have to rely on fellow passengers if you need assistance understanding how to reach your destination.
Enter the bus through the front doors and authenticate your transportation card at the reader. You can also pay for your ride using cash. Make sure you have enough little cash for the transaction. To exit the bus, push the stop button, swipe your card at the scanner, and use the middle or rear doors.
Taxis are also accessible nationwide and are reasonably priced. There are three types of taxis available: standard, premium, and vans. Cab charges may vary depending on the type of taxi used. If you are using a transit card to pay for your travel, you must inform the driver upon entering the vehicle.
Public transportation costs in South Korea
While single-use tickets are still available in Korea, the majority of commuters use T-money or Cash-bee transport cards. This is due to the fact that it facilitates travel and permits free transfers between modes of public transportation (if done so within 30 minutes).
In addition to paying for public transportation tickets, the card can be used to pay for taxi trips, purchases at convenience stores, and some vending machines. Some credit cards may provide discounts at linked retailers.
For 4,000 KWR, a travel card can be purchased at the airport of arrival (at duty-free shops and airport banks), in subway stations, or at convenience stores (3.50 USD). Ticket vending machines and convenience stores can be used to charge the card. While both T-money and Cash-bee are available nationwide, T-money is more concentrated in the greater Seoul region.
South Korean public transportation is inexpensive in terms of cost. In most cities, a single subway journey costs 1,250 KRW (1 USD), however in Busan, it costs 1,300–1,500 KRW (1–1.30 USD). Depending on the type of bus, the fare ranges from 1,000 to 2,400 KRW (0.85 to 2 USD) Buses at night cost 2,400 KRW (2 USD). Children and teenagers are eligible for discounted rates.
Taxis are similarly reasonably priced, with a flag-down cost of 3,800 KRW during the day and 4,800 KRW after dark (4 USD). After the first two kilometres, you will be charged 100 KRW (0.09 USD) for every 132 metres thereafter (433 ft).
Owning your own car will definitely increase your living cost in Korea.