Teachers Share their Experiences While Living Abroad!

Top 5 Ways to Save Money in Korea

Posted on Mon, Apr 08, 2013 @ 04:00 PM

The questions I get asked most about teaching in Korea involve salary and the cost of living in Korea. Everyone seems to want to know how much money I make and is it possible to save money while working in Korea. While it is not difficult to find out the average rate of pay for English teachers in Korea, it can be challenging to know the liklihood of saving money and the cost of living.


When researching this question before I left for Korea, I found it strange that some people would claim how expensive Korea is, but others would claim how easy it is to save money and that the cost of living was not all that high. It was very confusing to say the least. Well, I can tell you after being in Korea for over a year, that while Korea can be a little expensive, it is VERY easy to save money while teaching English in Korea. Here are five bits of advice that have helped me....



If you are serious about teaching English in Korea, then you probably have identified several motivating factors in choosing to go to Korea.  For some people, making good money is a significant factor. If you are one of these people, you will find that saving money will be easier because you will be entering Korea with the right mindset.

This was a huge reason for me and before I left, I had already calculated a rough guess of my expenses. I had a fairly good idea what my rent was going to be and I knew how much money I needed to set aside for school loan payments. I knew I wanted to save money in Korea so I started planning how I could do this before I left.

I also knew that Seoul was the most expensive city to live in and I did not prefer to live there because of this. Everyone wants to live in the big, exciting cities of Seoul and Busan, but just know, that you will spend a lot more money living there compared to a smaller metropolitan area.


Before you go, you have enough information to make a rough budget for living in Korea. However, there are some expenses that you will not be able to calculate, so during your first week or two, pay attention to the prices of food, groceries, transportation and utilities. After being there a week or two, you should have a good idea of how much money you are going to need per week.


Some people find the first month in Korea to be hard financially because you have to work for a full month before you receive your first paycheck. I, on the other hand, thought it helped me save money. Since I was did not have a lot of my own money to use during that first month, I really found ways to be frugal. I walked to work and tried not to eat out. I did not go to the bars and I did not buy much for my apartment. After a month of this, I was used to getting by with little so I did not feel the need to go out and buy lots of things with my first paycheck.


Remember, that any big item bought in Korea will either have to be shipped home, resold for a lower cost, or left behind. A year in Korea will fly by so unless you really have to have the item, try and get by without it for the year. On the flip side of this, if you really want a big item, say a piece of furniture or a guitar, look to your fellow English teachers who might be leaving earlier than you and are willing to unload some of their things for cheap.


I splurged by getting a gym membership, but I often shower there so I reduce my water bill. I don't pay for cable TV and instead, use internet streaming websites for my TV viewing. Some of my work clothes were getting a little worn out so instead of buying brand new clothes for work, I hit up a local thrift store to buy some shirts and pants to help me get through my time in Korea. My friends and I try to socialize and drink at each other's apartments instead of going to expensive bars/clubs. Those are just a few creative examples of ways that you can reduce your expenses in Korea.


After a year in Korea and following a lot of this advice, I am happy to say that I am heading back to the United States with quite a bit of money saved up. I would be interested to hear if any readers have some tips on how to save money in Korea. Feel free to leave a comment!!

Teach in Korea!

Adam Montgomery is a 25-year old teacher at the Chungdahm Branch on Jeju.  He has been teaching in Korea for over a year.  When he is not teaching, he enjoys exploring the wonders of Jeju and Korea.

Tags: teaching in Korea, saving money in Korea, living in Korea, Money, year in Korea

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