The cost of living is one of the issues many of you care about before making the decision to study, work and live in Korea. In a month, you will have to pay for house and living expenses (electricity, water, internet, gas), food and travel expenses – fixed amounts and extra expenses such as books, paperwork, going out with friends, etc. The expenses for every month will be even more expensive if you live in big cities like Seoul or Busan. In this article, let’s look at some tips for shrinking your budget in Korea.
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Real estate prices in Korea are very expensive. For a one-room house in Seoul, the deposit is about 2-5 million won, the rent is about 350-800 thousand won/month. So what you can do to save money on accommodation?
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If you do not have a lot of money to deposit, a share house is a reasonable choice. Share houses are usually apartments with 2-3 bedrooms, with separate kitchen and living room areas. You will live with other friends. The deposit at a share house is very cheap. Even in Hongdae, Sinchon, the deposit for a share house is often 1-month rent. The monthly room rent is about 300,000 - 500,000 won. Although this is not the cheapest type of house, compared to living conditions in Seoul, it is quite cheap. The only downside is that you may end up living with strangers, which can be quite annoying if you don't get along with them.
If you do not want to live with other people, you can refer to one room. Although it is a bit small, it is fully equipped. Housing in areas far from the center of Seoul will be cheaper. If you choose a room in the old Korean villa, jutaek house, the price is even cheaper (about 300,000 - 350,000 won/month. However, if you choose to live in an old apartment, it will be a bit inconvenient.
If you are a student, you can save money by living in a dormitory. Each dormitory room in Korea will usually have 2-4 people to live in and is quite fully equipped with living facilities. Depending on the school, the dormitory rental price is different, the average rent is about 180,000 - 350,000 KRW/month. This rent includes electricity, water, and gas. Although in the dormitory there are rules that do not allow cooking in the room, in return, the food in the dormitory canteen is very delicious, ensuring food hygiene and safety without being too expensive.
Because of the affordable price, the facilities are modern and comfortable, so many international students choose to stay in the dormitory because they want to save some of the cost of studying in Korea. The dormitory is increasingly chosen by many young people because of its convenience and reasonable cost
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Goshiwon room is the cheapest type of individual accommodation, with a very small area (about 6~8m2) for one person. In the room, there is only a bed, desk and wardrobe. The cooking area and toilet area are shared.
The cost of renting Goshiwon fluctuates around 200,000 ~ 350,000 won/month, including all fees such as Internet, electricity, gas, etc. This room type is suitable for those who have just moved to Korea to live and want to stay alone and at the same time want to save the cost of living in Korea.
This is also a quite new and interesting type of accommodation, giving you the opportunity to experience the most realistic Korean culture, and deeply feel the daily life in Korea. This type of house is available in many countries. Many people have houses in Korea, but for many reasons, they don't live there anymore and then rent out their houses. According to the rental experience of international students, if you take the trouble to search for a home address in Korea, you will find houses that are both beautiful and cheap. The average house rental price is about 200,000 won - 500,000 won/month. However, with this form of rental, you need to deposit a fairly large amount of about 2 - 5 million won.
On average, a normal meal in Korea costs from 5,000 to 12,000 won, a rather high price compared to many countries. So what to do to save money?
Take advantage of the student cafeteria
If you are a student, you should really take advantage of the student cafeteria because the meals here are extremely cheap and plentiful. The meals are under the management of the school, so the price is very affordable, only about 4,000 - 5,000 won.
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Go to restaurants near the university
In addition, you can also refer to restaurants near universities. Although the price is not too cheap compared to the common ground, for the same amount of money (6,000 - 10,000 won), you will usually get a larger meal than other places. Since the main customers in these restaurants are students, the price is likely to be lower than in other places.
Go to a traditional market
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You can also choose to cook for yourself to reduce costs. Compared to going to the supermarket, going to the traditional market will be much cheaper. The food at the traditional market is very fresh. You can go to the market once and prepare the food for the whole week. Fruit at the market is really cheap, it's usually sold in baskets or crates. For example, you can absolutely buy a box of strawberries for only about 2,000 – 3,000 won instead of 10,000 won in the supermarket. There are three famous Korean traditional markets that students often go to: Jegi-Dong market, Majang market, and Noryangjin market (specialized seafood market).
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Go to the supermarket before closing time
Korean supermarkets often reduce the price of fresh food before closing time. If you need to buy meat, vegetables, or ready-to-eat food, going to big supermarkets like Lotte Mart, Homeplus, and Emart about 2-3 hours before closing time will save you a lot of money. By that time, these products will be 20 - 40 % discounted.
There are tips to save money when shopping in Korea.
The first thing you have to remember is to buy online. Clothes, cosmetics, necessities, etc. all can be purchased online and there are many discounts on Korean shopping websites. If you pay attention to the sale every month, you will definitely buy good stuff at a good price. When shopping in bulk, you will get free shipping to your door. Thus, it is possible to save travel costs, and the price is even cheaper than when buying directly. The same item if purchased online will always be cheaper than buying directly in stores. That is a characteristic of Korea.
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Shop for clothes in underground shopping malls
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If you like shopping around, you can check out the underground shopping arcades. The clothes here are very cheap but also have a variety of designs and trends. Dresses and T-shirts are only from 5,000 to 10,000 won. These shopping malls are usually located at major train stations in Seoul.
Hunting for vintage items at the second-hand market
If you are passionate about hunting for vintage items, this is a way to save money on clothes. In Seoul, there are a few large second-hand markets, including Dongmyo Market and Seoul Folk Flea Market. Clothes here are only from 2,000 -10,000 won.
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Online second-hand market
In Korea, there are 3 big online second-hand market apps: Karrot (Daangn), Bunjang, Joonggonara and these are the apps you should have while living in Korea. Daangn or Karrot is the most popular one among these three. If you are in need of new furniture or items, but unfortunately, you can't bring them with you when you move house, then this is the time you need to go to the online shopping app. The prices are very cheap here and sometimes they even give away free stuff. You can find everything here. It will definitely save you a bunch of money.
How to Buy and Sell Used Goods with Karrot 당근마켓
So how to save money going out? Going to Korea without experiencing it would be too much of a waste. So save these tips!
Take advantage of free entertainment spots
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Korea has many free tourist attractions, typically libraries, museums, and Han River Park. There are many parks along the Han River. This is the ideal place for you to have a picnic or go for a walk with friends. In addition, you can also visit many beautiful parks in Seoul to watch the flowers in spring. Or if you like climbing, you can go hiking every weekend. This is a favorite activity of Koreans and is completely free.
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Buy admission tickets online
There are many amusement parks, aquariums, palaces, etc. selling tickets online. Foreigners who buy tickets online often have more favorable prices than Koreans. You can easily buy tickets to Everland, Lotte World, Namsan tower, etc. at a discounted price of 20 - 50%. You can also buy coupons for movie tickets online. Normally, movie tickets at CGV and Lotte cost 11,000 won but you can buy them on e-commerce sites for only 7,000 - 8,500 won
9 Ways to Save Money Living in Korea
If you have to go to school or go to work every day, the commuting expenses also take up a large part of your monthly budget. So you may want to know the tips below.
Buy a monthly subway card 정기승차권
Korea has a very convenient and not too expensive public system. However, if you often have to travel by subway in and around Seoul, you can apply for a monthly subway ticket. This month's pass reduces travel costs by about 25%. Note that this card is only applicable within Seoul for the subway from line 1 to line 9, plus some small subway lines. This card also has many levels with different prices and different limits. To know more about this card, you can check this website: www.seoulmetro.co.kr. For people traveling daily by bus, you can also buy a monthly pass with the same price, 55,000 won.
How to Save Money with the Seoul Subway Commuter Card
Using public bicycles Ddareungi
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If you only need to travel for a short distance, you can choose public bicycles, such as Ddareungi. You can now find Ddareungi in almost all corners of Seoul. Ddareungi monthly ticket is only 5,000 won for 30 days. You can go unlimited, 1 hour/ time. Cycling is really cheap and also protects the environment.
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Check out KTX's incentive program
If you want to go far or often have to travel by KTX, you can refer to the monthly ticket programs and savings packages of the Korean KTX. As for the monthly ticket, it can save you from 40 - 60% compared to the regular fare. If you are traveling in a group of 4, you can also buy a group ticket with a discount of up to 35%. You can also find out more about the KORAIL pass, which is a rail pass for foreigners.
KORAIL often offers new promotional packages. You can check other promotional packages on KORAIL's website or app.
6. Bills and Utilities
Utility bills can burn holes in your pocket, especially during the peaks ofwinter and summer.
Electricity instead of Gas
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You should limit the use of gas-operated items and use electric appliances instead. Gas will cost quite a lot of money. For example: When in winter, you have to turn on the heater 24 hours, and paying for heating costs will be quite expensive. Instead, you can buy some electrical appliances. For example, electric stove, electric fan, electric blanket, etc. The cost of using electricity will be much less than the cost of using gas and heating.
How to Save Money on Utility Bills in Korea
Prepaid subscriptions should be used instead of postpaid ones. That way you will be able to control your phone bill and will save on phone costs. You should also buy a wifi router to use the network every month because basically the data will be quite expensive and the network has very little capacity.