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Is South Korea a cheap country to live?

Is South Korea a cheap country to live?

South Korea is a popular destination for people looking for new career opportunities, education, or just a change of scenery. One of the most frequently asked questions by expats is whether South Korea is a cheap country to live in or not. Here are some factors that can affect the cost of living in South Korea:

Housing Costs

Housing costs in South Korea vary depending on where you want to live. Seoul, the capital city, has higher rent prices than other cities. However, housing outside of Seoul can be reasonably priced, especially if you are willing to live in a smaller or older apartment.

Food Prices

South Korean food prices can be relatively cheap compared to other developed countries. Street food and local markets offer affordable options that are also delicious. However, imported goods and western-style restaurants tend to be more expensive.

Transportation Costs

The transportation system in South Korea is highly efficient with trains, buses, and subways connecting all major cities. Public transportation is cheap and reliable, making it an affordable option for daily commutes.

Healthcare Costs

The healthcare system in South Korea is highly regarded for its quality and accessibility. However, medical costs can vary depending on the type of treatment needed and whether you have insurance or not.

Education Costs

South Korea has a highly competitive education system with top-ranked universities and schools. The cost of education varies depending on the level of study and institution.

Entertainment Costs

South Korea offers a wide range of entertainment options from K-pop concerts to cultural events. While some events are free, others can be expensive and require tickets to be purchased in advance.

Cost of Living Index

The cost of living index is a tool that compares the cost of living in different countries. According to Numbeo, a website that tracks cost of living data, South Korea is ranked 18th out of 138 countries in terms of overall cost of living.

Currency Exchange Rates

The exchange rate between your home currency and the South Korean won can affect the cost of living in South Korea. When the exchange rate is favorable, your money will go further.

Job Opportunities

The availability and salary of job opportunities can affect the cost of living in South Korea. If you are able to secure a well-paying job, then the cost of living will be manageable. However, if you are struggling to find work, then the cost of living can become a burden.

Cultural Differences

The cultural differences between your home country and South Korea can also affect your cost of living. For example, if you are not used to using public transportation or eating Korean food, then adjusting to these cultural differences may impact your budget.

Language Barrier

If you do not speak Korean, then you may face some challenges when trying to navigate daily life in South Korea. Paying for language classes or hiring a translator can add to your overall cost of living.


South Korea can be an affordable place to live depending on various factors such as housing costs, transportation costs, food prices, and job opportunities. It is important to research these factors before making the move and to have a realistic budget in mind.

Is it expensive to live in South Korea?

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

Is it affordable to live in South Korea?

Rent in Korea is reasonably priced for those who are not sponsored for accommodation. In smaller cities, the average rent for a studio or one-bedroom apartment can be as low as $300-$600 per month. In Seoul’s city center, however, rent prices may range from $800 to $1,000 or more. This information is as of January 17, 2022.

Is $100 dollars a lot in South Korea?

Based on my personal experience in Itaewon, I found that it is more costly than other areas in Seoul, and you should negotiate prices. However, I believe that a budget of US$100 per day is still sufficient.

Is it cheaper to live in Japan or Korea?

To maintain the same standard of living, it would cost approximately 674,662.3¥ (or 6,675,722.3₩) in Seoul compared to 640,000.0¥ in Tokyo (assuming rental costs are the same in both cities). This comparison is based on our Cost of Living Plus Rent Index.

How long can a US citizen stay in South Korea?

Between April 1, 2023 and December 31, 2024, US citizens are not required to obtain a Korean Electronic Travel Authorization (K-ETA) if their stay in Korea is for tourism or business purposes and lasts 90 days or less. However, visas are necessary for other purposes, such as employment, teaching English, or stays lasting more than 90 days.

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 can start at around 4 million KRW (340,000 USD).

In addition to the factors mentioned above, it’s important to note that South Korea has a high standard of living. The country is known for its advanced technology, modern infrastructure, and high-quality healthcare. These benefits come at a cost, and expats should be prepared for a higher cost of living compared to other Southeast Asian countries.

Another factor that can affect the cost of living in South Korea is the lifestyle you choose to lead. If you enjoy going out frequently, dining at fancy restaurants, or shopping for luxury goods, then your expenses will be higher. On the other hand, if you prefer a more low-key lifestyle and are willing to live modestly, then your cost of living will be lower.

One thing that can help reduce the cost of living in South Korea is taking advantage of discounts and promotions. Many stores and restaurants offer discounts to customers who pay with certain credit cards, or have loyalty programs that offer rewards or points that can be redeemed for discounts or freebies.

Finally, it’s worth noting that South Korea has a high tax rate. Income tax rates start at 10% and can go as high as 42%. Expats should factor in taxes when budgeting for their cost of living in South Korea.

Overall, while South Korea may not be the cheapest country to live in, it offers a high quality of life and many opportunities for personal and professional growth. With careful planning and budgeting, expats can enjoy all that South Korea has to offer without breaking the bank.

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