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Is life cheap in South Korea?


South Korea is a country that is often associated with advancements in technology and industry. It has also gained attention for its pop culture, including K-Pop music and Korean dramas. However, many may wonder if the cost of living in South Korea is affordable. In this article, we will explore whether life is cheap in South Korea.

The Cost of Housing

One of the biggest expenses for people living in South Korea is housing. Rent can vary depending on location, with areas like Seoul being more expensive than smaller cities or rural areas. Additionally, utilities such as electricity and water can add to the cost of living.

Food Expenses

Food is a significant part of Korean culture, but it can also be quite expensive. Restaurants and cafes can be costly, especially in popular tourist areas. However, there are also many affordable street food options and grocery stores where one can purchase ingredients to cook at home.

Transportation Costs

In South Korea, the transportation system is efficient and convenient. However, it can also be expensive, especially for those who must travel frequently for work or school. Public transportation fares can add up quickly, but there are also discounts available for students and seniors.

Medical Expenses

The cost of healthcare in South Korea is relatively low compared to other countries. However, those without insurance may still face significant expenses for medical treatment or procedures.

Educational Costs

South Korea places a high value on education, with many parents investing heavily in their children’s schooling. Private schools and international schools can be quite expensive, but public schools are generally affordable.

Clothing Prices

Clothing prices can vary depending on where you shop in South Korea. Designer brands and high-end boutiques can be expensive, but there are also many affordable options available in markets and discount stores.

Entertainment Costs

South Korea is known for its entertainment industry, but attending concerts or shows can be costly. However, there are also many free or low-cost options, such as visiting museums or parks.

Internet and Phone Expenses

Internet and phone plans can be affordable in South Korea, with some of the fastest internet speeds in the world. However, plans with unlimited data or international calling can be more expensive.


The tax system in South Korea is complex, but the overall tax burden is relatively low compared to other developed countries. Income taxes are progressive, meaning higher earners pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes.

Salary and Job Opportunities

While the cost of living in South Korea can be high, salaries for certain professions can also be quite lucrative. However, job opportunities may be limited for non-Korean speakers or those without specialized skills.


Overall, the cost of living in South Korea can vary depending on one’s lifestyle and location. While some expenses such as housing and transportation may be costly, other expenses like healthcare and taxes are relatively affordable. It is possible to live cheaply in South Korea with careful budgeting and taking advantage of affordable options.

Is it expensive to live in South Korea?

South Korea is known to be a costly nation, particularly its capital city, Seoul, which is consistently ranked among the most expensive cities to reside in globally. As per the Mercer Cost of Living Survey of 2022, Seoul was placed 14th among 227 cities.

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

A family of four living in Seoul, South Korea can expect to spend around $4,037.6 per month on expenses excluding rent, while a single person may spend around $1,116.8 per month on similar expenses.

Is $100 dollars a lot in South Korea?

Based on my personal experience in Itaewon, spending US$100 a day should be sufficient, as long as you are willing to bargain since it is generally more expensive than other areas in Seoul.

Is it cheaper to live in Japan or Korea?

Comparing the cost of living between Tokyo and Seoul, it would cost around 674,662.3¥ (6,675,722.3₩) in Seoul to maintain the same standard of living as someone who spends 640,000.0¥ in Tokyo (if both individuals rent). This calculation uses the Cost of Living Plus Rent Index to compare the cost of living.

How long can a US citizen stay in South Korea?

Starting from April 1, 2023, until December 31, 2024, US citizens can stay in Korea for up to 90 days without needing a Korean Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) for tourism or business purposes. However, a visa is necessary for other purposes such as employment, teaching English, or stays exceeding 90 days.

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

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

Currency Exchange Rates

It’s worth noting that the cost of living in South Korea can also be affected by currency exchange rates. Foreigners may find that their home currency doesn’t stretch as far in South Korea, especially if they are from a country with a weaker currency. It’s important to factor in the exchange rate when budgeting for expenses.

Social Culture and Customs

Another aspect to consider when assessing the cost of living in South Korea is the social culture and customs. For example, drinking alcohol is a common social activity, but it can also be expensive. Additionally, gift-giving is an important part of Korean culture, especially during holidays or special occasions.

Language Barrier

For foreigners living in South Korea, language can be a barrier that affects their cost of living. Many services and resources may only be available in Korean, making it difficult for non-Korean speakers to find affordable options or take advantage of discounts.

Seasonal Expenses

Seasonal expenses can also impact the cost of living in South Korea. For example, during the summer months, air conditioning costs may increase due to the hot and humid weather. In winter, heating costs may be higher due to the cold temperatures.

Overall Quality of Life

While the cost of living is an important factor to consider, it’s also essential to look at the overall quality of life in South Korea. The country boasts excellent healthcare facilities and education systems, as well as a low crime rate and clean environment. These factors can contribute to a higher quality of life that may offset some of the higher costs of living.

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