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!

  1. So far I’m shocked at how expensive shopping is here. Food is reasonable and so is eating out. Everything else though is way overpriced. The tariffs must be really high because it’s so much cheaper to ship from overseas.

  2. If you’re teaching, the schools cover rent? That’s a huge load off my back! Now – what if you’ve had to move out there before getting a teaching job? Would it even be possible to secure a job as a teacher before you move out there? Agghh so many questions, but I’m having so much trouble finding all the answers. Taking that next huge step is scary, but exhilarating~!

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. Do you have to know Korean to teach English? I know how to read Korean (but my speaking skills and vocabulary absolutely suck butt).

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

  7. I now have a new appreciation for mangoes. They’re my favorite fruit and I eat them all the time when they’re in season xD

  8. Well, they’re not exactly researchers in the area of prices, so it’s not that we take whatever they say as the be-all-and-end-all. That’s what the comments are for – for other people to share their own experiences. How about you tell us your comparisons, in a well-conducted manner? :)

  9. In the Uk, bus tickets are a minimum or £1.40 for the smallest distance, £3.10 for a day pass. You can easily spend a fiver getting into town and back. And I had Ramen today, and it cost me £9. Taxis are about £10 for 2 miles. Normal meal out will put you pack £10-20 for a nice main course, plus a tip. However, a packet of like, 10 apples is £1

  10. Is Simon a coffee-lover like Martina, too? O:

  11. I’m from Wisconsin, and eye exams for me are about ~$90, with insurance. I don’t bother getting glasses in store, though. I go get my frames & special effects online for much, much cheaper… my current glasses are $15 and are still in very good shape (read: not destroyed from constant sitting on them [accidentally] >>’)!

  12. What about the price of korean phone plans?

  13. My spidey senses tell me this may be a Puerto Rican or Dominican posting ;-)

  14. for tourist yes. But to us who live in Norway its really not that expensive since our salary is higher, so compared to many other countries we use less prosent of our salary on living.

  15. You know, Melbourne public transport is probably the best in Australia – although you can’t compare with Asian megacities, obviously. It may seem expensive, but hey, everything here is expensive :D
    The system is actually really good with fairly punctual trains and buses and trams, the option of using metcards or Myki, planning where to go very efficiently with the metlink journey planner, etc…wait till you go to Queensland where you have to drive practically everywhere. You’ll miss Melbourne’s trains then (as I do now T_T)

  16. So, I would like to use this opportunity to encourage people to go to Southeast Asia!! Cheap food!! Cheap clothes!! Cheap rent!! Cheap transport!! Cheap everything!! Also lots of kpop concerts and merch everywhere (if that’s what you’re after)!!!
    Rich, vibrant culture!!! Pickpockets!!! Friendly people~!! Dirty beaches!! Pretty girls!! Relaxed rules!! Lovely weather!!
    YEAH!!! (^o^)/

  17. Don’t get me started on NZ…I somehow managed to use up 2k last time I went there (for a week?!), and it was all for services (as in, no material objects to speak of) :S

  18. My friend brought back Kopi Luwak from Bali last holidays, would you be interested in that? :p

    • No, I’m not a coffee person, so if I tried it it’d probably just be wasted on me, since I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Leave the classy coffee for the classy people. Yah, begitulah kira2 :p

  19. I went to Korea last June for a 6-day holiday visit and I went bancrupt!!! ahahahaha! Korea is pretty expensive compared
    Let me share to you some of the cheap stuff I got:

    SHIN RAMYEON – 2 packs for 5000 won (5 noodles/pack)
    Cosmetics!! (Etude,Tony Moly, Misha, etc)
    > Nail polish from 1000-2000 won
    >Face pack for 1000 won
    >Skin and Lotion for less than 15000 won
    > Chibi socks for 1000 won

    …AND everything else is expensive! ahahhaha! Not really but those are the only stuff I remember so far~ and yeah! I got this North Face bag for 110000 won! That’s a pretty good price considering I went to both HK and Macau and did not find this bag :(
    I hope this helps :)

  20. Funny for you to discuss this, as I was just talking about it the other day. My friends went to S.Korea over the holidays, and they were telling me how the prices weren’t all that different from Australia, which I found unbelievable. I’d always thought of South Korea as the cheaper version of Japa – AARRRGGGHHHH!!!!!
    WHO STABBED ME???!!!! I knew I shouldn’t have bandmouthed KoreeeeEEeeEEee………..
    *DIES* x_X

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