Cost of Living in Korea

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One of the main reasons why we moved to Korea was to pay off our debts. Korea provides a very lucrative opportunity for the both of us as teachers, and – having double income and no kids – the deal seems so much sweeter for us than for others who are coming here alone. We’ve also been praising how cheap everything is here, how the Korean Buses and Subways do not cost even half of what they cost in Canada, and how Korean taxis are dirt cheap as well. Eating in restaurants is also very cheap, as 10 bucks without tip can easily feed two people.

The same can’t be said, however, for Korean Grocery Stores. We recently mailed Simon’s father a flyer from Home Plus, and had him compare the prices of similar items from a Canadian grocery store flyer released on the same day. The results that he found were quite surprising:

Cost of Living in Korea 1

Korean Cost of Living 2

All Korean prices are roughly calculated as $1=1000 won. Now here’s where the disclaimers come in; neither of us are statisticians, so please don’t criticize us for the flaws in these charts. Yes, we know that every week a Nintendo Wii is not going to be on the grocery bill, and – yes – we know that we will eat more than just fruit during our stay here in Bucheon. In fact, at times it is cheaper to eat out than it is to buy groceries, carry them home, and then cook with them, and clean, and so forth. The Dok Bok Ki that we prepared a while ago cost more than the Dok Bok Ki on the streets. Prices fluctuate as well. The first week that we got here Watermelons cost $18 while now they are at around $12. Anyhow, all that we can say about these two charts is that, during this specific week, everything cost more in Korea, so it’s not all perfect here in Korea, though it still is really quite nice.

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  1. Impeding Lies

    Is plastic surgery in Korea generally more affordable than Canada and how does one find an accredited surgeon?

  2. what are the requirements to live in korea?

  3. What’s the actual cost of living (apartment in korea vs NA/Canada)? That’s my major question. I’m looking at moving to Korea with my fiancee soon, but I want to try to save some money ahead of time before actually doing so. What’s a ballpark figure on prices in that regard?

  4. A bottle of SuJu in Mexico it cost like… $7.00 dollars, I think is expensive 70 pesos mmmm

  5. Anonymous

    Two things one can never escape are death and taxes. Governments love to tax things especially things that aren’t good for you. Booze and nicotine come to mind. Getting back to soju due to some interesting political wrangling soju’s taxed via wine and beer rates in the US which is something like 1/10th of distilled spirits. So whereas Jamesons and Stoli gets hammered something like 13.50 a gallon plus state taxes soju floats by like 1.50 a gallon. The kicker is there are brands of Hanguk firewater that can quickly approach 80 proof but you don’t see that imported in the US for the above reason.

  6.  I just got back from Koreatown, LA and a bottle of maekkgeolli was only 2.99 and soju was only 1.79!  I was soooo excited! In BC Soju ranges from the cheapest at 9.62 to 15.99, depending on what kind you get… and it is very hard to find maekkgeolli unless you go to a Korean restaurant. Thanks for all the awesome posts!!!!!

  7. Oskar Wallin

    Haha! A bottle of soju in Sweden will set me back USD45 ( no im not kidding) and thats for a 35cl one. Thank god im moving to korea in a month and 10 days! Starting KLI at Yonsei. Soju bombs and norebang! "Yey" :D uhm… i mean study study study!

  8. so this is why my family/friends advise me to buy 'american products' in america or canada because most likely, it'll be more expensive in korea since they have to ship it in etc..

    • Diana Alvarado

      I live in Florida, U.S. and I work in the hotel business. When people from different countries come over in airplanes, they barely bring anything and buy all their amenities here in the states to ship it back to their home country because to them it is “cheaper.” I went to Mexico and I found everything cheaper there than in the states, or at least it felt like it to me.

    • Most definitely: we can't really think of anything from North America that's not expensive here in Korea. Same rule applies the other way around. A bottle of soju here can cost you a buck or two. In Canada, it'll set you back $10!

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