Cost of Living in South Korea



Living a Korean lifestyle makes it possible to boost your savings, depending on the lifestyle you choose. Living in the rural areas of Korea is cheaper than life in the city.

Buying Property

Local law does not prohibit expats from buying real estate in South Korea. Foreign nationals need permission from the head of the city, county or ward (depending on the location) before a contract can be signed. A ‘stock company' or corporation needs to be established. Once established, the stock company will buy the property and remit the revenue out of the country through dividends.


Expats who want to live in high-rise apartments and townhomes can better focus their search in urban areas like Busan or Seoul. Both are well-populated industrialized cities. The cost of high-rise apartments depends on the location and size but ranges from around USD 650 to 5,000.

Most Koreans live in apartments. A typical 5 to 10 storey apartment includes other facilities like a supermarket and a pharmacy. Maintenance fee costs will differ from complex to complex. An elevator and parking space is available per unit.

As you move out of the city to rural areas, houses are more common. Normally, villas are bigger and cost from USD 2,000 to USD 10,000. Short-term leases are offered for villas for a period of 6 to 12 months.

Employers usually pay housing in advance for expats contracted to teach in Korea. Utilities will be your responsibility.

Contract prices differ depending on the period of stay. Serviced residences contracts are for shorter periods, usually for 3 or 4 months.

Food Consumption

A typical Korean apartment has a kitchen, and an average of 250,000 Won is a reasonable monthly budget for food.

Dining in restaurants is reasonably priced; prices range from 7,000 - 12,000 Won per person while dining in rural areas costs more at 3000-5000 Won.

Supermarkets and fresh markets sell imported products and supermarkets in Yongsan cater for the expat community's daily needs.


The Subway in Seoul is impressive; the journey between each stop is only two minutes. Prices range from 700 Won (inner city travel) to 1400 Won (if travelling to the outskirts).

A 20-minute bus ride within the city costs 1,050 - 1,150 Won. Expect to pay between 1300 and 1600 Won per 500 meters travel in a taxi.


A vast range of local or imported clothing is available. Like elsewhere, prices vary depending on where you shop. Cheap clothing can be found in Dongdaemun, and there are opportunities to haggle on prices at night.


Electricity, water, television and gas costs approximately 70,000 Won per month. A basic cable television package costs 5,000 Won monthly while an internet connection is around 20,000 - 30,000 Won.


South Korea implements both national and local taxes. If you're living or working in Korea, you are liable to pay Korean income taxes, most purchases are free of tax, but some goods are subject to value-added tax.



Expat Services in South Korea