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How much do you need to retire in South Korea?

How Much Do You Need to Retire in South Korea?

Retirement planning is essential for individuals who want to prepare for their future financially. For those who plan on retiring in South Korea, there are several factors to consider, such as the cost of living, healthcare expenses, and housing costs. In this article, we will explore how much you need to retire in South Korea and provide a comprehensive guide to help you plan your retirement.

The Cost of Living in South Korea

The cost of living in South Korea is relatively high compared to other Asian countries. The country’s capital, Seoul, is one of the most expensive cities in the world. However, the cost of living in other regions of the country is relatively lower. The average monthly expenses for a retired couple in South Korea are around KRW 2.5 million ($2,100), which includes food, housing, transportation, and healthcare expenses.

Housing Costs

Housing costs vary depending on the location and type of accommodation. Renting an apartment in Seoul can be expensive, with prices ranging from KRW 800,000 ($670) to KRW 1.5 million ($1,260) per month for a one-bedroom apartment. Alternatively, buying an apartment may be a better option for retirees who plan on staying in the country long-term. The average cost of an apartment in Seoul is around KRW 500 million ($420,000).

Healthcare Expenses

Healthcare expenses can be a significant burden for retirees, especially those with chronic medical conditions. South Korea has a comprehensive healthcare system that covers a significant portion of medical expenses. However, retirees may still need to pay for out-of-pocket expenses such as deductibles and co-payments. It is recommended to have private health insurance to cover these costs.

Pension System in South Korea

South Korea has a mandatory pension system, the National Pension Scheme (NPS), which provides retirement benefits to all citizens and foreign residents. The NPS requires individuals to contribute a portion of their income to the pension fund, with employers also contributing to the fund. The amount of pension benefits received is based on the number of years of contributions and the individual’s average income during their working years.

Retirement Age in South Korea

The retirement age in South Korea is currently 60 years old. However, there are plans to increase the retirement age to 65 by 2033. Retirees can choose to receive their pension benefits as a lump sum or as a monthly payment. It is recommended to consult with a financial advisor to determine the best option for your financial situation.

Savings and Investments

Saving and investing for retirement is essential, regardless of where you plan on retiring. South Korea has several investment options for retirees, such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. It is recommended to consult with a financial advisor to determine the best investment strategy based on your risk tolerance and financial goals.

Currency Conversion Rates

Currency conversion rates can significantly impact your retirement income if you plan on living off savings or investments in another currency. It is recommended to monitor currency conversion rates regularly and consider using a currency exchange service that offers competitive rates.

Working Part-Time in Retirement

Working part-time in retirement can be a viable option for those who want to supplement their retirement income or stay active. However, it is essential to understand the rules and regulations regarding employment for foreign residents in South Korea.

Retirement Communities in South Korea

Retirement communities are becoming increasingly popular in South Korea. These communities offer various amenities and activities for retirees, such as fitness centers, libraries, and social events. It is recommended to research different retirement communities to find one that fits your needs and budget.

International Retirement Options

South Korea may not be the ideal retirement destination for everyone. There are several other countries that offer attractive retirement options, such as low cost of living, favorable tax laws, and warm climates. It is recommended to research different international retirement options to find one that fits your lifestyle and financial goals.


Retirement planning is an essential aspect of financial planning. For those who plan on retiring in South Korea, it is essential to consider various factors such as the cost of living, healthcare expenses, housing costs, and currency conversion rates. By understanding these factors and developing a comprehensive retirement plan, individuals can prepare themselves financially for a comfortable retirement in South Korea.

Is Korea a good place to retire to?

According to a survey of 44 countries, Korea ranks as the 17th best country to retire in and the second best in Asia.

Is it expensive to live in South Korea for an American?

It is a well-known fact that South Korea is a costly nation, with the capital city Seoul often listed as one of the most expensive places to reside in globally. On the Mercer Cost of Living Survey for 2022, Seoul was ranked 14th out of 227 cities.

How long can a US citizen live in Korea?

Visitors from countries that do not require a visa can stay in South Korea for a period of 30 to 180 days, depending on their country of origin. This list includes countries such as the US, South Africa, Australia, Canada, the UK, and most European Union countries.

Can US citizens retire in Korea?

To be eligible for residency in South Korea, you must obtain a long-term visa and meet certain requirements, such as having language competency, five years of documented residence, knowledge of Korean history, and passing an interview and written exam. The deadline for application is January 31, 2023.

Can an American buy a house in South Korea?

It is allowed for non-Koreans to buy real estate in South Korea, but those who are foreign residents must comply with the regulations set forth by the Foreigner’s Land Acquisition Act and the Registration of Real Estate Act.

How much is a house in South Korea in US dollars?

Typically, a small apartment or studio in Korea will cost around 1.5-2.5 million KRW (130,000-215,000 USD), while larger accommodations will start at approximately 4 million KRW (340,000 USD).

Additionally, it is important to consider the cultural and social aspects of retiring in South Korea. The country has a rich cultural heritage and offers plenty of opportunities for retirees to immerse themselves in the local culture. This includes visiting historical sites, attending cultural events, and trying traditional Korean cuisine.

Retirees in South Korea can also take advantage of the country’s excellent public transportation system, which makes it easy to travel around the country. This is especially useful for retirees who want to explore different regions of South Korea during their retirement.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that South Korea has a highly developed technology industry, which can be attractive to retirees who are interested in innovative technology and gadgets. The country also has a thriving entertainment industry, with K-pop music and Korean dramas gaining popularity worldwide.

In conclusion, retiring in South Korea can be an attractive option for those who are looking for a mix of modern amenities and traditional culture. By taking into account the various factors mentioned above and developing a comprehensive retirement plan, individuals can prepare themselves financially and socially for a comfortable retirement in South Korea.

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