Dreaming of saving money? Maybe you would like to travel to some exotic island or even pay for your wedding. Maybe your student loans are weighing you down and you would like to go to graduate school. Teaching in Korea can make all these dreams a possibility!
Korea is a great place to save money. With efficient transportation systems, cheap internet and affordable health care, teachers can live comfortably while saving money. Living expenses can be considerably lower than in the West, especially when it comes to utility bills and phone contracts. Even bank charges are mostly free and international transfer fees are lower than what they would charge you in your home country. This is how I managed to travel the world, save money and pay for a wedding! Below are my top 3 tips for saving money in Korea.
1. Choose the Right Apartment
When moving to teach in Korea you should choose your apartment wisely. Things to consider are heating bills in the Winter; is the apartment predominantly gas or electric? And how much are monthly maintenance fees? Prices also vary between apartment blocks, office-tells and villas. Additionally, location can change rental prices depending on the area's business and class.
A good idea is to ask your renter if you can see an example of your neighbors utility bills to get an honest estimate. Foreigners can save a lot of money paying lower utility bills and a mere 55,000₩ difference can add up over one year. Also, you should consider the size of your housing. A bigger apartment means a higher heating bill in the Winter. You should try to find a place that has two rooms with a door sealing the two rooms off. This will make it easier to keep heat in one room - opposed to heating up the entire apartment. The same goes for air-conditioning in the Summer months.
In Korea apartment blocks are considerably higher than office-tells and villas. Whichever you choose, keep in mind that all three housing types will range in prices according to living expenses and key-money deposits. A lot of foreigners opt to live in villas as the rent is lower and usually the living space is bigger. Also, villas tend to be located in residential area. Of course location matters too. lf you choose to live in the heart of the city near all the famous spots you will end up paying more in rent. Venture a little outside of the center and you will be surprised what better deals there are!
2. Live Close to School
Korea is the perfect place for walking and biking! There is really no real reason to catch public transportation, unless it’s the middle of January and you cannot bear the Siberian wind chilling your bones. Personally, investing in a bicycle is the smartest move I made money-wise. Although, I live 30 minutes walking distance from my branch, I can easily now get there within 15 minutes on my bike. Korea is also a safe place to walk around at anytime of the day. It is not only healthy, but it also helps add great clarity and mental stimulation before and after class.
With all this being said, when choosing an apartment you should consider living within walking distance to your school, especially if you are a new teacher. It will not only save you 80,000W per month but, also make your job easier due to your proximity to the school. For example, there are often workshops or meetings that spontaneously happen, and you will need to plan accordingly. If you live far away from your school, you might end up catching a cab more often than you wish. Proximity also helps in Korea without your own means of transportation. If you would like to do extracurricular activities like going to the gym or Korean classes, living closer to school will be more affordable and convenient.
3. Shop Smart
Korea is famous for ‘service’. When shopping there are all kinds of specials, sales and deals. Even with the convenience of internet shopping, you can get great deals online at local sites like G-market. Getting to know your neighborhood shops is a great way to save money. Local stores will always have sale-days and special giveaways. You can save a lot of money in Korea if your prepare your own food and shop locally. ‘Shopping locally’ does not mean eating only Korean food. It is possible to shop for the kinds of meals that you want to create on a budget that you are happy with.
One of the ways I save money is by going to the department stores between 10pm-12pm. Stores like Lotte Mart, E-Mart and Homeplus all have big sales on meat, vegetables and dairy after these hours. I love salmon and the only way I can afford to continue eating it weekly is to look for the deals late at night when they are selling the days last fish. The vegetables will be in a sale cart at the end of the evening and most fish and rotisserie chicken will be on sale after 10pm.
Another way to save money is to shop at the local market for vegetables, beans and eggs. My fiancé and I have found that the department store prices on vegetables cannot even compare to the market prices. The quantity and quality we purchase in the market is almost as great as going to an organic store in the U.S. Of course you have to wash and clean all your own foods, but it is totally worth it when you only spend about 15,000W on vegetables a week! To give you an example we buy 30 farm-fresh eggs, 1kg chickpeas, 1kg flax seeds, 3 x Tuna cans, cherry tomatoes, 4x broccoli, 2 x spinach, 1 bag of carrots, a bag of peanuts and sweet potatoes for about 38,000W.
I hope you found this blog useful, as the more money you save, the more you can enjoy the perks of teaching abroad such as traveling and attending events and festivals.
It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, avid traveler and travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and its people. After Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010, she had the opportunity to live in the heart of the Korean countryside. During her time spent in Chungnam province she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people. After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea again, and is currently working at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email email@example.com to request more information on teaching in Korea!