Money, the cost of living and expenses in Korea

Here teacher Ian talks about how much money you need to come to Korea with. He then talks about rent, phone, utilities, grocery shopping, foreign restaurants and salaries.

 Here is a transcription of the video:

These are some of my bills. Some of you guys are probably wondering about the living expenses. So probably one of the first things is how much is it going to cost you to get set up in Korea. 3 years ago I came over here with about $2,000. I didn't have a job or a home. It took me about a month to find a home and a job. I stayed in hostels until then. So that was plenty of money until then and it took me about a month.

But if you have a job and a home then you can probably come over here with a $1000 and be fine. You could probably come over here with much less than that and still be fine - maybe $500. The only expenses that you are going to have will be food, depending on your situation that you arrange with your school. You might have to pay for a health check or a visa fee or something like that. But otherwise you'll probably just have to pay for food and $500 will probably be enough to get you through.

Living expenses. You just saw my bills. That's about 45,000 Won I pay a month for my utility bills. That was last month, the month of November. This month will probably be a little more expensive because of the heating. The most I ever payed - this is in Changwon, was about 120,000 Won and that was in Busan in the middle of the winter. My house was really nice it had tall ceilings, so it wasn't very efficient. So that also jacked the bills up.

Rent. Most of you probably won't have to pay rent. I pay rent. I pay about 330,000 a month for rent. It's just a small studio apartment. Most of you won't have to pay rent though. Housing can range from about 300,000 Won a month to 500,000 or more a month. The place where I stayed in Busan - I stayed in a few places, but the first place I stayed was in downtime Busan. In Seomyeon and I am thinking that that place cost about 500-550,000 Won a month. I didn't have to pay that the school payed that.

So most of you won't need to pay, but if you do you can find it online for 300-500,000. A lot of the times in Korea you have to put down a huge deposit, so it's not too easy to find your own housing. Fortunately I didn't have to pay a deposit. But usually you have to put down key money.

I knew a guy here in Changwon and he is married to a Korean woman and he just moved into a new house. He put down $30,000 and then every month he pays a $100 for rent. So sometimes you can put a huge deposit down like $100,000 and the landlord makes money with interest and you are not paying any rent. And when you move out you get your money back. Other expenses...

Phone. I have got an old phone. I got it three years ago and I think the phone was free when I got a plan. I think the first month I had to pay some set up fees. I can't remember how much that was I am guessing maybe 50 or 70,000 Won. Now I only pay about 30-40,000 Won a month for my bill. I don't use it to chat much just text messages and a chat here and there. It's pretty inexpensive.

Food. I pay about 80,000 Won these days a week and pretty much always do my shopping in the grocery store. If you want to eat out the cheapest places to eat will be the ones that serve gimbap, bibimbap, kim chi ji gae, bokumbap, these sorts of dishes and they can range from maybe 3-6000 Won. Gimbap is only 1,000 or 1,500 Won. Those are the cheapest places to eat if you want to eat out. Foreign food is pretty expensive, whether you're going to a market or a restaurant.

Foreign restaurants can be pretty pricey. If you want to eat Italian or pretty much anywhere that is not Korean. It's pretty pricey. There's a place here in Changwon that I go to that is an Indian restaurant and that is like 16-20,000 Won an entree. And you're going to want to get some rice or nan with that and maybe a drink. So you can easily spend 30,000 Won there. Pizza is pretty pricey. If you want to get a Dominoes pizza or Pizza Hut pizza again you can spend close to 30,000 Won for that. So exotic foods and imported foods are expensive in Korea.

Salary. Most people make about 2.2 million Won and that's with everything: housing, air tickets, pension and severance. My first year I made 2.3 million Won and the last 3 or 4 months I was making 2.4 million Won. I managed to save 18 million Won that year including my plane ticket. Like I didn't go back to the States I stayed here, so they gave me cash instead. So I saved about 18 million Won my first year which is pretty good. Most salaries are about 2.2 and you can make more than that. I knew a guy who was making 2.9 million Won. He just had a good relationship with the boss. The boss liked him. It can range a bit.

You can work part time. Technically you need permission from your employer (your E - 2 visa holder) and something written into your passport. If you get caught you can get a big fine. Maybe 2 million Won or more or kicked out of Korea. People still do it. The average range is... I'd say ask for 30-35,000 an hour. Those can range anywhere from 20-50,000 Won. I'd say 30,000 is a pretty good asking price. You don't want to bring the price down too low. I know a guy who makes 45-50,000 Won an hour. He's got an F - 5 visa. If you have one of those visas you can do pretty well. He's married to a Korean.

Watch part II on money and expenses in Korea