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Is living in South Korea expensive?


South Korea is a country known for its advanced technology, rich culture, and delicious cuisine. However, one question that often arises among potential expats is whether living in South Korea is expensive or not. In this article, we will delve into the nitty-gritty of the cost of living in South Korea and explain why it is considered expensive by some.

Housing Costs

Housing costs are undoubtedly one of the most significant expenses when living in South Korea. The prices vary depending on the location, size, and type of accommodation. Apartments are the most common form of housing in South Korea, and their prices range from ₩300,000 to ₩1,500,000 per month. Utilities such as electricity and gas bills can cost around ₩100,000 per month.

Transportation Costs

Transportation costs can add up quickly in South Korea, especially if you rely on taxis or private cars. However, the public transportation system in South Korea is well-developed and affordable. A single subway ride costs ₩1,350, while a bus ride costs ₩1,250. Monthly transportation passes are also available for frequent commuters.

Food Costs

Food is an essential part of Korean culture, and there is no shortage of delicious options to choose from. However, eating out can be expensive compared to cooking at home. A typical meal at a restaurant can cost anywhere from ₩5,000 to ₩20,000 per person. Grocery shopping can also be pricier than expected due to the high import taxes on certain items.

Entertainment Costs

South Korea offers a wide range of entertainment options such as K-pop concerts, theme parks, and museums. However, these activities can add up quickly if you are not careful. A ticket to a K-pop concert can cost upwards of ₩100,000 per person, while admission to theme parks and museums can vary from ₩10,000 to ₩20,000.

Education Costs

South Korea is known for its rigorous education system, and parents often invest a significant amount of money in their child’s education. Private schools and international schools can cost anywhere from ₩10,000,000 to ₩30,000,000 per year.

Healthcare Costs

Healthcare in South Korea is excellent and affordable compared to other developed countries. However, it is still an expense that needs to be considered when living in South Korea. Basic health insurance costs around ₩100,000 per month, while additional coverage for dental and vision can cost extra.

Personal Care Costs

Personal care items such as toiletries and cosmetics can be more expensive in South Korea due to the high demand for these products. A tube of toothpaste can cost up to ₩5,000, while a bottle of shampoo can range from ₩6,000 to ₩20,000.

Communication Costs

Staying connected with family and friends back home can be costly if you rely on international phone calls or data roaming. Purchasing a local SIM card or using messaging apps such as KakaoTalk can save you money on communication costs.


Taxes in South Korea are relatively high compared to other countries. The income tax rate ranges from 6% to 42%, depending on your income level. Value-added tax (VAT) is also added to most goods and services at a rate of 10%.

Job Opportunities

Finding a job in South Korea can be challenging, especially if you do not speak Korean. However, there are job opportunities available for English teachers, skilled workers, and professionals in various industries.

Cultural Differences

Living in a new country comes with its own set of challenges, and adapting to the culture can be difficult. South Korea has a unique culture that may take some time to adjust to, but with an open mind and willingness to learn, expats can thrive in this vibrant country.


In conclusion, living in South Korea can be expensive compared to other countries. However, the quality of life and the unique experiences that come with living in South Korea are priceless. By carefully budgeting and planning ahead, expats can enjoy all that South Korea has to offer without breaking the bank.

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

For a family of four, the average monthly living expenses (not including rent) in South Korea are estimated to be around 2,300,000 KRW, which is roughly equivalent to 2,000 USD. Meanwhile, a single expat can expect to pay around 652,000 KRW (roughly 560 USD) per month (not including rent).

Is it hard to live in Korea as a foreigner?

If you are ready before you arrive, moving to South Korea is generally straightforward. Despite historical reluctance towards foreign migration, the country has become more open to international companies and has started to welcome foreigners.

Is $100 dollars a lot in South Korea?

Based on my personal experience in Itaewon, a budget of US$100 per day should be sufficient, although it may be more expensive than other areas in Seoul and bargaining may be necessary.

Is it more expensive to live in South Korea or the US?

Compared to the United States, South Korea is about 17.5% less expensive.

How expensive is it to live in South Korea?

A family of four can expect to spend around $3,609.5 (4,685,404.3₩) per month in South Korea, excluding rent. For a single person, the estimated monthly costs are $997.6 (1,294,952.2₩) without rent. The cost of living in South Korea is generally 5.3% lower than in the United States, and rent is on average 60.9% lower.

Is rent expensive in Korea?

If you are looking for a place to live outside of major cities, you can find apartments ranging from $300 to $600 per month for a studio or one bedroom. In the heart of Seoul, however, rent costs are typically between $800 and $1,000 or more, and larger apartments or those in prime locations will be even more expensive. This information is from March 4, 2023.

Alternative Cost-Saving Measures

While living in South Korea can be expensive, there are several cost-saving measures that expats can take advantage of. For example, shopping at local markets for fresh produce and groceries can save money compared to shopping at large supermarkets. Additionally, using public transportation instead of taxis or owning a car can save a significant amount of money on transportation costs.

Another option is to take advantage of free events and activities offered by the government or local communities. South Korea has many cultural festivals and events throughout the year, which are often free to attend. Expats can also explore the country’s natural beauty by hiking, visiting parks, and exploring historical sites, which are often free or low-cost.

Finally, it’s important to remember that negotiating prices is a common practice in South Korea, especially in markets and smaller shops. Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts or negotiate prices to get the best deal.


In summary, while living in South Korea can be expensive, it’s important to weigh the costs against the quality of life and unique experiences that come with living in this vibrant country. By carefully budgeting and taking advantage of cost-saving measures, expats can enjoy South Korea without breaking the bank. With its advanced technology, rich culture, delicious cuisine, and stunning natural beauty, South Korea is a country worth considering for those looking for an exciting and fulfilling expat experience.

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