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Is it so expensive to live in Korea?

Is it so expensive to live in Korea?

South Korea is a vibrant and modern country that boasts of a rich cultural heritage, delicious food, breathtaking landscapes, and a high quality of life. However, one question that often arises is whether it is expensive to live in Korea. In this article, we will explore the cost of living in Korea and compare it with other countries around the world.

The cost of living in Korea

The cost of living in Korea can vary depending on your lifestyle and location. Generally, the cost of living in Seoul, the capital city, is higher compared to other cities in the country. According to Numbeo, a website that compares the cost of living in different countries, the cost of living index in Seoul is 81.74, compared to 70.32 for Busan and 68.14 for Daegu.

Housing costs

Housing costs in Korea can be high, especially if you choose to live in Seoul or other major cities. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Seoul can range from 600,000 KRW to 1 million KRW (around $500 to $850 USD), depending on the location and condition of the apartment.

Transportation costs

The transportation system in Korea is efficient and affordable. The subway system is extensive and covers most parts of Seoul and other major cities. The cost of a single subway ride in Seoul is 1,350 KRW (around $1.15 USD). Taxis are also readily available and are relatively cheap compared to other countries.

Food costs

Korean food is delicious and diverse, and there are plenty of options available at various price points. Eating out at a restaurant can cost between 5,000 KRW to 20,000 KRW (around $4.25 to $17 USD) per person, depending on the type of restaurant and menu items.

Clothing costs

Clothing costs in Korea can vary depending on where you shop. There are plenty of affordable options available at markets and discount stores, but high-end designer brands can be expensive. However, there are also many outlet malls and second-hand shops where you can find good deals.

Healthcare costs

Korea has a national healthcare system that provides affordable and accessible healthcare to its citizens. The cost of healthcare for foreigners can be higher compared to locals, but it is still relatively affordable compared to other countries.

Education costs

The education system in Korea is highly regarded and competitive. Private schools and international schools can be expensive, but public schools are free for children of foreign residents.

Entertainment costs

There are plenty of entertainment options available in Korea, including movies, concerts, and sporting events. The cost of entertainment can vary depending on the event and location, but there are often discounts available for students and seniors.


The tax system in Korea is complex and can be difficult to understand for foreigners. However, the tax rates in Korea are generally lower compared to other countries.

Comparison with other countries

In comparison to other countries around the world, the cost of living in Korea is relatively affordable. According to Numbeo, the cost of living index for Seoul is lower than Tokyo, Singapore, and New York City.


Overall, while the cost of living in Korea can be high, it is still relatively affordable compared to other countries with similar standards of living. With a bit of budgeting and planning, it is possible to live comfortably in Korea without breaking the bank.


For more information on the cost of living in Korea, check out the following resources:

  • Numbeo:
  • Expatistan:
  • Korea Tourism Organization:

How much money do you need to live comfortably in Korea?

The average monthly living expenses for a family of four in Korea is around 2,300,000 KRW (2,000 USD) without including rent. For a single expat, their monthly living expenses would be approximately 652,000 KRW (560 USD) without rent.

Why is it so expensive to live in South Korea?

Seoul is frequently listed as one of the most expensive cities in the world due to high housing costs and the requirement of security deposits. The majority of housing in Korea is comprised of apartments, and the city offers stunning views of the downtown cityscape and Seoul tower.

How expensive is it to live in Korea?

The monthly expenses for a family of four in South Korea, excluding rent, are estimated to be $3,589.3 (4,689,342.7₩), while for a single person the estimated cost is $993.0 (1,297,289.6₩). The cost of living in South Korea is 6.5% lower on average compared to the United States, and rental expenses in South Korea are 60.6% lower on average compared to the United States.

Is $100 dollars a lot in South Korea?

Based on my own experience in Itaewon, a budget of US$100 per day should be sufficient. However, Itaewon may be more pricey compared to other areas in Seoul, and bargaining may be necessary.

Is it hard to live in Korea as a foreigner?

Moving to South Korea can be a smooth process provided that you plan well in advance. While traditionally, South Korea was not very welcoming towards foreigners, this has changed over time as the country has become more open to international businesses.

Is it cheap for Americans to live in South Korea?

If you’re moving to Korea without having your accommodations paid for, the cost of rent is reasonable. In areas outside of major cities, you can expect to pay around $300 to $600 per month for a studio or one-bedroom apartment. However, in the heart of Seoul, rent may be higher, with costs ranging from $800 to $1,000 per month. This information is current as of March 4th, 2023.

Additional tips for living in Korea

Here are some additional tips to help you save money while living in Korea:

Shop at local markets

Local markets in Korea are a great place to find fresh produce, meat, and seafood at reasonable prices. You can also find clothes, accessories, and other household items at these markets. Some popular markets include Namdaemun Market and Gwangjang Market in Seoul.

Cook at home

If you’re looking to save money, cooking at home is a great way to do so. Korean groceries are affordable and you can find a wide variety of ingredients to make your favorite Korean dishes. Plus, cooking at home is often healthier than eating out.

Use public transportation

Using public transportation is a great way to save money on transportation costs. The subway system in Korea is efficient and affordable, and buses are also readily available. If you plan on using public transportation frequently, consider getting a T-money card, which allows you to pay for transportation with a single card.

Take advantage of free events

Korea has many free events and festivals throughout the year, including cultural events, concerts, and exhibitions. These events are a great way to experience Korean culture without spending a lot of money.

Learn the language

Learning Korean can help you save money by allowing you to communicate more effectively with locals and avoid language barriers. You can take language classes at local universities or language schools, or use online resources to learn on your own.

Final thoughts

Living in Korea can be an enriching experience, but it’s important to be aware of the cost of living before making the move. While some expenses, such as housing and education, can be high, there are also many affordable options available for food, transportation, and entertainment. With a bit of planning and budgeting, it’s possible to live comfortably in Korea without breaking the bank.

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