Teachers Share their Experiences While Living Abroad!

Cost of Living When Teaching in Korea: Countryside vs. Major City

Posted on Tue, Dec 22, 2015 @ 04:22 PM

Teaching English in Korea is usually a desirable choice because of the amount of savings you could accumulate over a short period of time. Korea has been top of the ESL charts for the past 10 years when it comes to salaries and benefits. Even teachers starting-out get paid reasonably and there is the opportunity to rack-up a good amount of money after one year. 

The main question most incoming teachers ask is would I be able to save more money in the countryside or in a major city? This depends a lot on your experience, the salary you get offered and your lifestyle. Overall however, you can save money in both the countryside and the city while living  in Korea. Here is a helpful Korean currency converter for the countryside and the city, so you can make useful comparisons. 

saving money when teaching in Korea


Living in the Korean countryside can save you a lot of money. In my first three years teaching in Korea, I had the opportunity to live in Chungcheongnam-do province. This province is renowned for being 'really' countryside and the people are famous for being genuine and kind. Living and teaching in the Korean countryside is a lot cheaper than living in a major city, like Seoul or Busan. Living costs are lower and so are daily expenses. Everything from transport to grocery shopping will be cheaper than the city, especially since you cannot overspend on all the wonderful foreign goods and shops you have in the city. However, it is important to note, that this depends on how much you travel on the weekends and what you choose to spend during these adventures. 

saving money when teaching in Korea

Expenses for 1 month:

Accommodation:                   400,000 - 600,000

Utilities:                                 50,000 - 80,000 (Gas, Water, Electricity)

Gym:                                     40,000 - 70,000

Transport:                             40,000 - 60, 000 (Bus)

Groceries:                             250,000 - 350,000 (Food and Necessities)

Local Travel:                         80,000 – 400,000

 Extra Expenses:

Korean restaurant:              8,000 - 18,000

Foreign restaurant:             17,000 - 30,000

Coffee date:                        3,000 - 10,000

Street food:                         1000 - 7000

Late night cab:                     5,000 - 10,000

Night out:                            15,000 - 25,000

 living expenses when teaching in Korea

Major City: (Seoul, Busan, Daegu) 

When compared to the Korean countryside the city is considerably more expensive. However, this depends largely on your lifestyle and the way you choose to spend you extra time and money. If you have already lived in the countryside before, and do not need to travel Korea as much, then the city would not work out to be as expensive as you had previously budgeted. But, if it is your first time travelling and teaching abroad, then you will need to take into consideration that traveling Korea on the weekends and doing activities inside your city during the week, will add to your general expenses a lot. 

living expenses when teaching in Korea

There are of course ways to save money while living in the city too. For example,  I have been living in Seoul for this past year and have managed to save a good budget every month by walking to most places and eating at home. I avoid catching cabs by using public transport, and try to take advantage of the many entry-free tourists sights Seoul has to offer. Also, I do only do one major trip a month and have lowered expenses on leisurely shopping and items I do not need. 

Expenses for 1 month:

Accommodation:                   650,000₩ - 900,000

Utilities:                                 80,000₩ - 150,000₩ (Gas, Water, Electricity)

Gym:                                     80,000₩ - 150,000

Transport:                             50,000₩ - 80,000₩ (Bus)

Groceries:                             350,000₩ - 500,000₩ (Food and Necessities)

Local Travel:                         50,000 - 250,000 

Extra Expenses:

Korean restaurant:              15,000₩ - 100,000

Foreign restaurant:              30,000₩ - 100,000

Coffee date:                         6,000₩ - 20,000

Street food:                          2000₩ - 10,000

Late night cab:                     15,000₩ - 30,000

Night out:                             50,000₩ - 200,000 

cost of living in Korea

Countryside and City Miscellaneous Things:

 2L Coke:               2,514

Starbucks:             4,700

Ramen:                 1,000

Soju:                     1,200

Bottle of Wine:      14,000

Deodorant:           12,000

Toothpaste:           8,000

Movie Ticket:        10,000

Subway:               1,250

Bus:                      1,100

Bag of Crisps:       2,500

Kimbap:                 3,000

Cheese:                10,500

Bacon:                   9,800

Steak Fillet:           32,000

MacDonald’s:         5,667

Pizza:                    15,000

Comforter:            120,000

Pillow:                   30,000

Train Ticket:         15,000

KTX Ticket:           35,000

Kimchi Jigae:         5,000

Korean BBQ:        22,000

Bicycle:                 240,000

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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 tijanahuysamen120@hotmail.com to request more information on teaching in Korea!


Tags: Korean countryside, living in Korea, living in Seoul, Money, live in city, Korean city, live in countyside, cost of living

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