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COMMENTS

So, in the video above we talked about a few of the basics when it comes to comparing the cost of living in South Korea compared to living in Toronto, Canada. Overall, we found that subways, buses, taxis, eating out, and buying basic clothing is cheaper here in South Korea, while fresh produce and coffee are significantly more expensive here. There are a couple of other things we didn’t mention in our video, however:

Renting Apartments: Definitely, from our experiences, rent is significantly more expensive here in Korea. We’re not even talking about regular monthly rent here. The only apartment we had in Canada wasn’t in Toronto, but in Windsor. We paid roughly $450 a month for it. Yes, Windsor is significantly cheaper than Toronto. We’ll agree to that. Our friends living in Toronto, though, have apartments comparably sized to ours here in Bucheon, South Korea. They pay between $1200 and $1400 a month. Our apartment, we pay 900,000 won a month for. Yes, that is cheaper, BUT THERE IS A HUUUUGE DIFFERENCE: in Korea, you can’t just go out and “rent” an apartment. You have to put down something called “key money,” which is pretty much a ridiculously large deposit. Our apartment required a deposit of 20 THOUSAND DOLLARS. Yep. Just the deposit. Sounds ridiculous, I know! Supposedly it’s because it’s much harder to evict people in Korea if they don’t pay their rent, so renters are safer with large deposits down. When you leave your apartment, you get your deposit back, though, so that’s good. Just getting that 20 grand outright is prohibitive for a lot of people.

Also, we’re living in Bucheon, which isn’t Seoul. Why aren’t we living in Seoul? Because Seoul is insanely expensive. We looked into the Hongdae area for apartments. Found some half to a third the size of our current apartment. They wanted the same sized key deposit, but they wanted to charge 1,500,000 won a month instead. OH HELL! We’ve looked into apartments in the Gangnam area: really tiny apartments will set you back 2,000,000 won a month. FFFUUUUU. So, yeah. Renting is expensive.

Now, if you’re teaching in Korea, your schools usually cover the key money and the rent for you, so HUZZAH! That’s great. We’re not sure what it’s like for students. Anyone here a student in Korea? Let us know in the comments what it’s like.

Electronics: I remember, before we came to Korea, we thought that we’d have the most tech-ed out apartment out there. Everything would be Samsung or LG goodness: TVs everywhere, robot vaccuums, robot fridges, robot toilets. IT WOULD BE GLORIOUS! It’s not glorious. It turns out, supposedly, that the cheapest electronics you can get are from North America, even with products that are originally from Japan and Korea. Don’t freaking ask me why. All I know is that I’ve seen similar products in from Japan and Korea much cheaper in Canada. Why is that? I’d think that, without having to ship the product halfway around the world, that you’d save a buck or two. Nope. More expensive here. That sucks.

Coffee: OHMAIGAT! It’s not cheap here at all. Ever. You’ll find Americanos starting at roughly 4,000 won. You won’t find drip coffees. A Tim Horton’s double double for under a couple of bucks…GLORIOUS! Here, not glorious. Espresso based drinks are all the rage here. If you want a coffee that just got pushed through a drip machine: good luck with that. They’ve got “hand-drip” coffee, in which they make it for you by hand, and it’s delicious, but it’s, like, 5,000-6,000 won. AYYYYYYYY!!! So, yeah. We spend a lot of money every month on coffee. It’s so expensive here!

I’m not sure what else to add to the list. Food, coffee, clothing, transportation, electronics, housing. What else do people spend money on regularly? I’m sure if someone mentions it I’ll be like “OH! HOW’D I FORGET THAT?!?!” For now, though, I think we covered most of the bases.

Long story short, even though these things mentioned in the blog post are more expensive than what we’re used to in Canada, we still find that, on a Teacher’s salary, you’re able to save a significant portion of your earnings, since regular day-to-day stuff is not expensive, and also because your rent is covered by your schools. Yeah!

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  1. vipbanaangel
    vipbanaangel

    I SOOO want to live in S.korea but the key money makes me terrified D;
    Luckily, if everything goes as planned I will be having my friends as roommates and split the costs^^
    I really want to live in an officetel though because THEY’RE ADORABLE *^* Question is how many can live in it without getting on each others nerves xD

  2. The reason why electronics is more expensive in South Korea has to do with economics, and what they call dumping. Asian companies can make the products cheaper than US market, so they flood foreign markets with their products even if they lose money on each one. And then they make the money up with domestic markets, because at home they have no competition.

  3. It’s really unfortunate that coffee is so expensive! Can you get decent french presses over there to make coffee at home or is that something I should pack?

  4. I was curious about health insurance or how much it would be if you had to go to a doctor or hospital. Are prescription medication as expensive there as it is in America?

  5. I think it’s more expensive in Seoul than Jakarta.The fare for taxi in Jakarta is start from RP 5000,- (500won) and you can pay the busway transport only for Rp 3500 (350won) and the mineral water in Seoul is so expensive, for 600ml you have to pay 700won (Rp 7000 > price for 2000ml mineral water in Indonesia)

  6. 캣 그랜

    Utilities and internet cost?? plz

  7. cocktailrobot

    Korea is awesome compared to San Francisco. Public transportation in Korea is AMAZING in comparison. And I totally gear that the club gear is cheap :)

  8. It cost me more then that to live in Sydney. Coffee here cost equivalent to 6000-7000 won for a large coffee. I’ve once paid near 12000 won.

    My ‘Key Money’ is roughly 2 700 000. This will get deducted if the property is damage.

    I pay 500 000 won a week for my 2 bedroom apartment out in the west, 1 hour from the city. It’s close to a station which makes it easier to travel.

    Seoul is sounding mighty cheap right now.

  9. I’m in high school now, but I’m probably going to want to study abroad or maybe even live in Korea in the future. Here’s what I plan to do: Ask my mom to send me chargers and my family in India to send me cheap mangos (it wouldn’t spoil before it got to Korea, right?)

  10. is it expensive to import pc items to eouropa?

  11. disqus_BJtM8bwRgz

    What about cell phone prices (to buy initially and then the monthly cost)?

    • phone prices are basically about the same in any country, but i think a new law here makes foreigners have to buy their phone fully paid with cash. no credit cards, no anything and that kinda sucks. as for the monthly cost usually people will just register their bank account and the company will deduct the monthly cost automatically. the price range is so wide, but almost every people i know use the 30.000-35.000 ones. that usually covers free text, a limited amount of free calls, and around 500-800mb 4G data usage. omg this is so late lol

  12. Wow! I was thinking of after a while being a teacher or a translator for a company there in South Korea but I’m still thinking on what should I do if you can tell me anything at all that would be great I’m making everything possible to go to the US to study Korean and stuff and I already know English and Spanish so I think that’s a really big advantage. Love your videos keep on doing sucj a great work :D

  13. with just one job is it affordable to live in Korea, I mean are you straped paycheck to paycheck, or do the jobs there pay enough, depending on the job?

  14. Are kpop albums cheap in korea? Here its roughly $20-40 for an album depending (in stores)

  15. Friendship Doughnut

    sorry for sendig you a msg about it T_T” i was just spamming, didn’t see that you spoke about that topic uhuh~

  16. How about utilities e.g. water, electricity, a/c, heating, internet, cable, etc. included in most apartments? Paid for separately?

  17. What about hotels… is there some place cheap in seoul for a week?

  18. Wow , your living expenses in Korea sounds more cheaper than Singapore .

  19. This really helps quite a bit. I’m planning to teach in Korea after college so finding out bit by bit about living expenses is really helpful. c:

  20. It’s possible electronics cost more due to manufacturing:

    Samsung: Creates products in Korea (better labor) ahead of market for their own country and is out at full price and labored in same country>
    USA wants it but at a lower price due to economy and asks it to be produced in China or Mexico. By this time, the product is dated and Samsung probably has a new one out

    Result: Cheaper prices in N. America

  21. Silvia Manriquez

    I have a question related to expenses in Korea. What are the price ranges for internet and cell phone bills. Are they paid monthly, are there contracts involved, or is it pay as you go? Also how much would one pay for the cell phone device (a smart phone) and for the internet modem?

  22. Since you guys are moving to seoul now, how much was the key money for your new apartment and how much is your rent if you don’t mind me asking?

  23. How is it with jobs? Is it easy to get a job in Korea or not? Or just averege? And starting your own company then? Is it easy to get a job as a language teacher? I really want to know this since i’m determined to move to S.Korea! :D

  24. In London it costs £4.30 for a one way fair within one zone and at the most £7.50 if you go though nine zones (only two stops are that far out usually the most you will travel though is six which makes it £5.30) but this goes down a lot to minimum £2 and maximum £6.40 if you get an Oyster card.

    It’s pretty steep pricing if you have to pay the full adult fair. :(

  25. spiralyte

    It is so unbelievably ridiculously expensive on the tramways here in Miami, FL… The two-way one-time tickets are like $4 per ticket. It’s soooo bad.. If you’re traveling with 3 or 4 people, it can easily be about $12-$16 just to get to one place and come back for the group.

    Your videos really make me hopeful that I could move to S. Korea one day! Thanks Simon & Martina. Always ever so helpful. And oh Meemers.. Why so adowwable. <3

    Maybe you guys could start a Sink Cat trend.. Dethrone Ceiling Cat.. After all, Meemers is a doctor.. Dr. Sink Cat ftw. :P

  26. dongwoosaurr

    Daaaaang the rent is expensive!

  27. Louise Berthier

    You haven’t mentionned your expenses for phone bills and Internet/wi-fi bills. South Korea has the fastest Internet in the world I believe, but does that make it cheaper or more expensive than what you’re used to in North America?

  28. I live in Washington State, U.S. and I gotta say that it seems some of the prices for things like coffee in S. Korea are the same prices here :) I could deal with coffee for 4,000 won lol It’s almost $6 for 20 oz. here! On the other hand, $20,000 is a HUGE key deposit! Here we have deposit but they are equal to first and last month’s rent and a security deposit which is usually half of a month’s rent. Our deposit’s are usually somewhere around $2,700! Note to self: If I ever move to S.Korea…Be a teacher :)

  29. is it hard to find job in there? I’m planning to work there when i graduated, which is like in 3 years i think… and i don’t know how the work environment is like in Korea.

  30. quick comment, if you go to Gangnam in 설날 or 추석 (the big national holidays when you’re supposed to spend time with your family), it has the least people/cars you can imagine. Seriously, I saw less than 5 cars in the street. The road from COEX to Gangman (which is supposed to be one of the most crowded streets) has no cars. As you guys won’t be as royal to the Korean national holidays, it’ll be a new/special experience to see a quiet and car-less Gangnam. (I think it’ll probably be similar in other places which should be crowded, but I can’t say for sure cuz I’ve only been to Gangnam at these specific times)

  31. Michikohime

    Expensive, not expensive… It really depends on the annual salary you make, no? How does it compares?

  32. TL:DR question I guess: Can y’all make a ‘How to Dance K-Pop Style 2012′ video? I didn’t find one for last year. Please, please don’t miss this year’s too!!!!! :)

  33. i had a question Simon and Martina ^^ apparently im only 15 (going on16) and in my family, my dad teaches us to plan for our futures and what to do, and since im going into my sophmore year, im really thinking about my career. I already have money saved in the bank to take a trip to Seoul once i graduate highschool. But for college, my older sister plans on moving to korea to teach spanish as a elective, and i hope to go to a college that will let me study abroad their. Im already learning the language for a while now, but i wanted to go to college to go abroad to learn the language fluently and possibly live their, but i dont think i could make it as a teacher. I was hoping in majoring in phototagraphy and Korean as a minor, but i wanted to do it abroad their. Is that even possible?
    Not only that, i wanted to live their even after finishing school, and once i finish obviously the school wont cover my expencises and where i’ll be living. So i was wondering, how was the billing?? Is is more expensive compared to when u lived in Canada? (im from wisconsin U.S.A and ur expences u had in canada sounds very similar to what we have in our home) so i wanted to compare to see if it was much more expensive, as far as i know the renting is WAY DIFFERENT XD but i was wondering like electric/water/etc bills were like???
    please let me know? thank u so much and take care ^^

  34. i had a question Simon and Martina ^^ apparently im only 15 (going on16) and in my family, my dad teaches us to plan for our futures and what to do, and since im going into my sophmore year, im really thinking about my career. I already have money saved in the bank to take a trip to Seoul once i graduate highschool. But for college, my older sister plans on moving to korea to teach spanish as a elective, and i hope to go to a college that will let me study abroad their. Im already learning the language for a while now, but i wanted to go to college to go abroad to learn the language fluently and possibly live their, but i dont think i could make it as a teacher. I was hoping in majoring in phototagraphy and Korean as a minor, but i wanted to  do it abroad their. Is that even possible?
    Not only that, i wanted to live their even after finishing school, and once i finish obviously the school wont cover my expencises and where i’ll be living. So i was wondering, how was the billing?? Is is more expensive compared to when u lived in Canada? (im from wisconsin U.S.A and ur expences u had in canada sounds very similar to what we have in our home) so i wanted to compare to see if it was much more expensive, as far as i know the renting is WAY DIFFERENT XD but i was wondering like electric/water/etc bills were like???
    please let me know? thank u so much and take care ^^

  35. wow great post. and how about expenses like electricity, water usage, heating? Ahh so good for the native speakers, they can easily find jobs in Korea. I have a TEFL degree but I am not a native speaker of English so Korean schools would never employ me :( sucks when you want to live in Asia :(

  36. Catherine O'Brien

    If you would like to experience horrible and expensive public transportation, try SEPTA (South Eastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority). It mainly serves the Philadelphia Area. The buses and trains are always late and the above ground trains are ridiculously expensive unless you are using a monthly commuter pass. They only come once per hour and a one way ticket from my university to the city center cost me $6 and the trip was less than 10 miles. There are also only two subway lines in the city. Luckily, I live in Japan now where the public transit is super efficient, although a tad expensive. I just think of it as paying for quality.

  37. Seems like things are pretty cheap over in Korea. I had a friend who went to Korea for two weeks and ended up over-spending by a lot (she ended up buying everything she saw) because of the cheap prices there especially the electronics and accessories. I’m surprised the produce are expensive given that they grow them in Korea. But then produce is really expensive in a lot of places.

  38. i heard buying a house is really expensive in Korea. Is it a good idea to invest in a house or are most people stuck with renting for the rest of their lives?

  39. Aside from fruits and veggies I can only imagine how cheap it is. And the coffee, drip coffee here (Finland) is usually 2-3 € and special coffees like lattes and espressos are 5-6€ (7000 won) and up, hell, even those would be cheap, lattes are mostly 7€ (9700 won) here.

    I was in London where a pack of 5 sock pairs cost £2!! That’s rougly 3500 won, in Finland those are 9700 won ON SALE. Most basic everyday clothing was cheap there, tops and t-shirts £2-3, you won’t find them below 10,000 won here. As a northern European, everywhere is cheap, even Central Europe (food) and America has generally especially cheap… well, everything. I should stop spending money here and just travel and hoard.

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