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Is living in South Korea affordable?


Living in South Korea has become an increasingly popular option for expats and digital nomads in recent years. However, many people still wonder if it is affordable to live in this vibrant and exciting country. In this article, we will explore the cost of living in South Korea and provide an overview of what you can expect to spend on accommodation, food, transportation, and other expenses.

The Cost of Accommodation

One of the biggest expenses when living in South Korea is accommodation. The cost of rent will vary depending on where you live and the type of housing you choose. Generally speaking, apartments in major cities like Seoul and Busan are more expensive than those in smaller towns. However, there are also many affordable options available, including shared apartments and goshiwons (small single-occupancy rooms).

The Cost of Food

South Korea is known for its delicious cuisine, but how much does it cost to eat there? The answer depends on where you eat and what you order. Generally speaking, street food and local restaurants are quite affordable, while Western-style restaurants can be more expensive. You can also save money by cooking your own meals at home or shopping at local markets.

The Cost of Transportation

Getting around in South Korea is relatively affordable thanks to the country’s excellent public transportation system. Buses and subways are both affordable options for getting around major cities, while intercity buses and trains are also reasonably priced. Taxis can be a bit more expensive, but they are still affordable compared to taxis in many other countries.

The Cost of Healthcare

Healthcare in South Korea is generally affordable and of high quality. The country has a national health insurance system that covers most medical expenses for citizens and residents. However, there may be some out-of-pocket costs for certain procedures and medications.

The Cost of Education

South Korea is known for its rigorous and competitive educational system. While public schools are free, many parents choose to send their children to private schools or academies for extra tutoring. These can be quite expensive, but they are also seen as necessary for success in the country’s competitive job market.

The Cost of Entertainment

South Korea is a hub of entertainment, with a thriving music, film, and television industry. While attending concerts and events can be expensive, there are also many affordable options for entertainment, such as visiting museums and parks.

The Cost of Utilities

The cost of utilities in South Korea varies depending on your usage and location. Generally speaking, electricity and gas bills are higher in the winter due to heating costs. Internet and phone bills are also relatively affordable compared to other countries.

The Cost of Taxes

If you live and work in South Korea, you will be subject to income tax. The amount of tax you pay will depend on your income level and other factors. However, the country’s tax rates are generally considered to be reasonable compared to other developed countries.


Overall, living in South Korea can be affordable if you are willing to make some adjustments to your lifestyle. While major cities like Seoul can be expensive, there are also many affordable options available for accommodation, food, and transportation. Additionally, the country’s high quality healthcare system and excellent public services make it an attractive option for those looking to live abroad.


– Affordable accommodation options available
– Delicious local cuisine can be quite affordable
– Excellent public transportation system
– High quality healthcare at reasonable prices
– Reasonable tax rates compared to other developed countries


– Major cities like Seoul can be expensive
– Private education and tutoring can be quite expensive
– Entertainment options like concerts and events can be pricey
– Utilities bills can be higher in the winter
– Out-of-pocket costs for certain medical procedures and medications

Is it expensive to live in Korea from US?

It is a widely accepted fact that South Korea can be quite pricey, with the city of Seoul often being ranked as one of the most expensive places to reside in globally. In 2022, Seoul was ranked 14th out of 227 cities in the Mercer Cost of Living Survey.

Is $100 dollars a lot in South Korea?

Based on my personal experience in Itaewon, a budget of US$100 per day should suffice. However, it is important to note that Itaewon tends to be more expensive than other parts of Seoul, and it is recommended to negotiate prices.

How much does it cost to live in South Korea?

The monthly expenses for a family of four in South Korea, not including rent, are around 3,571.4$ (4,692,450.2₩), while for a single person it is estimated at 988.3$ (1,298,516.1₩). The cost of living in South Korea is generally 7.9% lower than in the United States, and rent is typically 60.8% lower.

Is it hard to live in Korea as a foreigner?

Generally, moving to South Korea can be a smooth process if you are adequately prepared before your arrival. While South Korea used to have a reputation of not being very welcoming to foreign immigrants, this has changed as the country has opened its borders to more international businesses.

How long can a US citizen stay in South Korea?

US citizens traveling to Korea for tourism or business purposes and staying for 90 days or less do not need the Korean Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) from April 1, 2023, to December 31, 2024. However, a visa is required for other purposes, such as employment, teaching English, or stays longer than 90 days.

What is the average rent in Korea?

As of February 2021, the typical monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Seoul, South Korea was approximately 510,000 South Korean won, which is an increase from the previous month’s figure of around 480,000 South Korean won.

The Cost of Shopping

Shopping in South Korea can be affordable if you know where to go. Local markets and street vendors offer a wide variety of products at reasonable prices. However, shopping at high-end malls and department stores can be quite expensive. Additionally, imported goods are often more expensive due to tariffs and taxes.

The Cost of Language Learning

For those who are not fluent in Korean, language learning can be an important expense. Private lessons and language schools can be quite pricey, but there are also many affordable options available, such as language exchange programs and online resources.

The Cost of Travel

South Korea is a great base for exploring other parts of Asia, but travel costs can add up quickly. Domestic flights are relatively affordable, but international flights can be expensive. Additionally, accommodations and activities in other countries can be costly.

The Cost of Alcohol and Nightlife

South Korea has a vibrant nightlife scene, with many bars and clubs open late into the night. However, alcohol can be quite expensive due to high taxes. Additionally, cover charges at clubs and bars can add up quickly.

The Cost of Personal Care

Personal care expenses in South Korea can vary depending on your preferences. Haircuts and salon services can be affordable, but luxury spas and beauty treatments can be quite expensive. Additionally, personal grooming products like skincare and makeup may be pricier due to import costs.

The Cost of Banking and Finance

Banking fees in South Korea are generally considered to be reasonable compared to other developed countries. However, there may be fees for international transactions or using ATMs outside of your bank’s network. Additionally, investment opportunities may require significant capital and carry some risk.

Overall, the cost of living in South Korea can vary widely depending on your lifestyle choices and location. While some expenses like private education and imported goods can be quite costly, there are also many affordable options available. With a bit of research and budgeting, living in South Korea can be both enjoyable and financially feasible.

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