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Is it Expensive in Korea?

August 9, 2012


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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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