South Korea Through Expats’ Eyes- Finances in Korea!


It’s Finance Friday over here on the blog. WHOOO!!! Everyone loves to talk about finances, right?!?!

Well actually, normally I am quite the opposite. Korea changed that though. Korea brought Tom and I incredible financial freedom. I have probably already told you this…but we are on track to pay off almost $40,000 of university debt simply by choosing to live in Korea for 2 years. Although that isn’t the main reason we moved here- it was one of the reasons. We are not only paying off debt, but loving life, exploring Korea, and traveling Southeast Asia -all on just two teacher salaries! I often ask myself why aren’t more people doing this?! I mean, 100% debt free in 2 years WHILE traveling ?!?! Yep. It’s real life. One that anyone with a Bachelor’s degree can make a reality.

Lisa, Chloe, Caitlyn, and Alison tell you more about finances in Korea below:


Tell me about your housing? What’s it like and what does your school/job cover as far as living costs? Are bills expensive? What bills are you expected to pay each month?

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My school pays for my housing, and I am responsible for the water, electricity, gas, and internet/cable (if you chose to get it). My housing is sort of like a studio, but the kitchen/eating area and my bedroom are separated by sliding doors. I also have a laundry room to wash and hang my clothes and a decent size bathroom. For one person, my apartment is just fine, and I have no complaints about it! I’ve seen some of my other friends’ apartments that are smaller than mine, so I can’t complain. The bills are extremely cheap too, so that’s another awesome bonus! Some vary month to month, but in all my internet, gas, water, and electricity together are never more than $100 (usually way under).



Are you able to save? Pay off debt? Travel?

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YES YES YES!!! One of the biggest benefits of living in Korea is the amount of money you are able to save each month. We fortunately don’t have any debt to pay off back home so instead we have just been saving as well as putting aside money for travelling. My husband is an accountant so budgeting is his forte but although we have a set budget; it hasn’t limited us at all in our daily living. We currently send my salary home (he works out when is the best time to send money home exchange rate wise), we put half of Hendrik’s salary into our travel savings account and the remainder we live off. This has worked out so well for us, and has given us a nice sum of money to spend on travelling. We have loved travelling around Korea and have been to as many places as possible this year, as well as having spent 10 days travelling through China and will be going to  the Philippines for 2 weeks in Jan. as well as a month long trip through Vietnam, Laos and Thailand in Feb/March.


What did you find to be a good amount to have saved so that you could get established in Korea? (the wait time before our first pay day is usually about a month after moving to Korea!)

photo (10)When I asked I was told to bring around $1,000- $1,200 or more if I could so that I would be able to establish myself. I actually came with less than that. If I remember correctly I came with around $900. I was really stressed about it because you don’t actually get paid until you have worked for a month (this included the refund for your airfare). I was worried that I would run out of money before I would be paid, but it turns out that it was more than enough at least for me. I literally only bought necessities when I got to my apartment (one plate, one cup, one bowl, some food, a pair of chopstick and utensils – one fork, one knife, and a spoon). I had packed a lot of things from home so thankfully I didn’t need to buy much and my school was really great, with furnishing the apartment so I really didn’t need to spend my own money. Also just a quick tip, I would advise bringing a little bit more than told, I didn’t need it (I was lucky), but some people do need to take the bus to their schools or even a travel school and you pay for the bus out of your own pocket so, having some extra cash for the bus for the first month would be great!

Sidenote from Elicia--Yep, you read that right. They pay for our airfare to Korea AND home when your contract is finished. Another thing that still blows my mind!



Do you struggle financially by living in Korea?

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We have only been here for a little over a month, but after putting together our budget (with the help of Elicia and Tom!), we realized that we could live very comfortably, travel, save some money and pay off my student loans in a year! Our housing is paid for, which is incredibly helpful, as it was a huge expense back in Seattle! No financial struggles so far!




Next week, they’ll bring their expertise to the table on: Expat life (outside of work), Loneliness, and some awesome advice if you plan to move abroad (or to Korea!)

If you missed the first two posts click the links below to catch up!

1. Post 1- Why did you come to Korea? Read about why these 4 ladies choose to move abroad to Korea.

2. Post 2- Teaching in Korea. These lovely women tell all on what it’s like to be an English teacher in Korea!


  1. That’s really cool that the finances are working out well for all of you! My husband and I are currently looking into teaching abroad opportunities!

    • Korea is a GREAT place to live and work 🙂 Finances can be such a burden, but Korea has really lifted that burden for us. I want others to know that they too can be financially free!!

  2. I’m loving reading all of your info guys. I’d love to teach abroad one day (if the stars align) so this is great info.

    • Hey Brittany! Thanks for commenting!!! I am so glad that you found it and could use the information in a helpful way (perhaps if you do move abroad) It’s a great opportunity and the experience of a lifetime if you get the chance…take it!! 🙂