Cost of living in Seoul, Korea

25 02 2010

Indians who are coming to  Korea for the very first time can find the information below very helpful. I have written this article keeping Seoul in mind but if you are visiting some other city or province this information would still be helpful to you in giving you a fair idea about living in Korea.

The Cost of Living in Seoul Korea can broadly be divided into:


  • Deposit – Rs. 2 lacs / 5 Million Won approx ($5000)
  • Monthly Rent – Rs. 20,000 / 500,000 Won per month approx ($500)


  • Winter – Heater / Gas / Electricity / Water – Rs. 2,000 / 50,000 Won per month approx ($50)

Food and Grocery

  • If you cook at home – Rs. 8000 / 200,000 Won per month approx ($200)
  • If you eat outside – Rs 16000 / 400,000 Won per month approx ($400)

Travelling using public transport

  • If you travel by subway or bus – Rs. 3600 / 90,000 per month (including weekend travelling) ($90)


  • Local calls using Mobile – Rs. 900 / 23,000 Won per month ($23)
  • International Calling cards – Rs. 600 / 15,000 won per month ($15)
  • PC to Phone – Rs. 800 / 20,000 won for 3 – 4 months.
  • Internet – Rs. 500 / 13,000 Won per month

So per month you would be spending approx – Rs. 36000 / 900,000 Won per month. ($900)

Accommodation (and maintenance): The cost of accommodation depends upon many a factors – whether you are staying alone or with family, location of the house, room sharing etc.

If you are staying alone in an officetel or a studio apartment then your monthly rent can come to – 300,000 – 350,000 won per month ($300 – $350). For certain officetel you need not pay any maintenance like electricity, water, gas, heater separately. It is all inclusive (including dinner). But since it is occupied mostly by Korean students for studying you would not be allowed to invite your friends over or talk inside the room.

If you are sharing your room then your monthly rent as well as maintenance can come down to – 300,000 – 350,000 won per month. You are likely to share your room with a Korean family, Korean students or some other foreigner. Maintenance and food is separate but it will be shared between the room-mates.

If you are staying with your family then your monthly rent will be minimum 500,000 won per month ($500). Maintenance separate.

Alternatively you can post your requirements for an apt/room sharing on Craigslist and you will have people contacting you directly.

The cost of accommodation may vary as per location. Places which are 40-50 minutes distance via Subway trains in Seoul would charge you lesser rent as compared to places in the proximity of Seoul Metropolitan area. For more detailed information you can read this article at KMK’s blog here.

Deposit (Key Money) – Except for officetel, for other apartment or studio you would be required to pay Key Money or deposit before you sign the lease. The key money / deposit could range anywhere between 2 Million won to 5 Million won ($5000).

Furniture – Most of the studio or apartment are sometimes furnished, but you can check for the following things before you accept the offer

  • Bed with blankets
  • Refrigerator
  • Washing machine
  • Microwave
  • Gas stove for cooking
  • Chair and desk
  • Room heater facility

Officetel are normally furnished with a bed, chair and desk, refrigerator. They may share a common kitchen, bathroom and washing machine.

Water – Water is a bit hard in Korea so some Indians may not find it suitable for drinking. You may chose to boil it before drinking or use mineral water which is approx. 600 – 800 won (Rs. 25 – 35 per bottle in a department store) for a 2 litre bottle.

Food – Certain food items like milk, bread, butter, jam, yoghurt, corn flakes, ketchup, tea, coffee, noodles, egg, raw chicken, Korean rice, onion, potato, fruits and vegetables are easily available in Korean department store. If you need to do shopping for Indian Grocery items then you need to visit the Foreign Shop and Marhaba at Itaewon. You might not get everything but you would get many Indian spices, pulses and food items for cooking. These shops does not cater only to Indian but also Pakistanis, Bangladeshi, Nepalis, Mangolians and others. There is also a Nepal Street in Dongdaemun. Dongdaemun is considered as mini Nepal as it has many Nepali shops and restaurants.

There are many Indian Restaurants in Korea but they are a bit expensive. Other eateries like Mc Donalds, Burger King, KFC, Pizza hut, Paris Baguette, Papa Jones, TGI Friday, Subway, Quiznoss, Sunshine Kababs and many other burger, pizza, hotdog and kabab joints are commonly found in Korea. Eating in any of these eateries can set you back by approx 4000 – 5000 won per head. And sorry no vegetarian food available. Most of the food items would contain beef or pork but you will get chicken items too in any of these outlets easily.

Travelling – Public Transport is highly efficient in Korea. From Subway lines to buses you can chose anything for your daily mode of transportation. All you need is a T-Money card to travel. T-Money Card is widely accepted in buses, subway trains, taxi, Seven Eleven shops, Public telephone booths and many other places. T-Money card is available in any Seven Eleven shop for 3000 Won which you can reload with money from time to time as per your requirement.

Communication – For calling India you can get an International Calling Card from the foreign shop as mentioned above or any other roadside or subway shop which displays the following board – International Calling Cards. This card is like a scratch card. It has a Card No. which you will have to use for making International Calls from a public phone or your cell phone. The card has around 110 calling minutes and are available from various companies for various denominations. Sky and Very Good are amongst the commonly used cards. Other economical option is to use pc to phone services – for Rs. 800 or 20$ you can get 1000 minutes of talk time to India. For calling other countries you can check their website.

Doctors – You will find English speaking doctors mostly at Haebangchon and Itaewon, but you will find English Speaking doctors in other areas too. Look for International clinic when you visit Korea. And it is important to have a health insurance else a visit to a doctor could be very expensive.

E commerce – Internet is the fastest in Korea as compared to any other country in the world. And Korea is very tech or net savvy. Ecommerce is a big business in Korea and you can shop most of your items from G Market – But to use this website you need to have your Alien Registration Card and a cell phone.

Alien Registration Card – Every foreigner after landing in Korea is required to apply for Alien Registration Card. This card enables you to open a bank account, procure a phone and do other important activities in Korea. You need to visit the Korean Immigration office with your passport, employment agreement, passport size photo, and 10,000 won for stamping.

You can visit the site below for additional information:

Please note: 1000 won is considered equivalent to $1 for easy computing


If you want to meet more Indians living, working or studying in Korea then you must visit Indians in Korea website and register with their yahoo group.

To Subscribe in IIK group, mail to

Group Link:

Here in this group you will find more than 10,000 Indians working or studying in Korea. So if you are not able to find answers to your query you must register on their yahoo group and post you queries on the group to get it answered by Indians living in Korea.




19 responses

16 04 2010

A very comprehensive article for newbies in Korea. Good job.

16 04 2010
Brijesh Bolar

Thanks Vinay..

21 04 2010

A very detailed and good information is provided
Thanks Brijesh.. It makes it so simple for an Indian Visiting Korea

19 05 2010

I was planning to go to Korea. And I have no idea everything about it until I found this post. Thanks for sharing this to us.

30 05 2010

Great info and well maintained for a newbie to Korea.

I am planning to move to Busan.. any ideas about it?
Please email me.. so I can ask you few more general questions.

Thank you

7 06 2010
Rockstar Sid

I always wanted to visit foreign places. Where have you been to apart from Korea and India?

After a deep research, I found Malaysia, thailand are cheaper too! But unsure of the environment. However, korea seems to be a better place to settle. Are you still living there? 🙂

7 06 2010
Brijesh Bolar


I have been to Malaysia. Thailand not yet.

Yes Malaysia is cheaper (than Seoul) and better place to stay (may be) as people speak good English over there. Plus it is very scenic. But then Korea is no different. Yes I am in Korea now and I like it so far. I also have plans to settle here. Korea keeps me busy wid something or the other. So I wonder that if I come back home I may get bored. 🙂

By the way, I saw ur blog / site and you are pretty famous dude. I have been following Digital Inspiration religiously. Articles by Amit are pretty impressive. And now on m gonna follow you guys.

M working on Android these days so would like to dig a bit deeper on ur site for the same.

Thanks for bumping in..

17 06 2010

Fantastic!!! Almost all the infos have been elaborated. Thank you gentleman.

I am planing to bring my family in an year or so. Only info which I desire is children education. My son is 4 (indian age) and goes to Junior kindergarden.

How much should be the school fee including registration in an international school. Plz share the info.

20 06 2010
Brijesh Bolar

Hi Mahim,

Thanks for your comment. I really dont have any info about schools right now. But will ask a few people around and get their views..

About the school I’d suggest your shoot a mail in the IIK forum and lot of families here would suggest you the right school. You can also do some search in their older post if someone has already asked questions on kids education.


29 07 2010

Excellent article. This article gives very useful information about living expenses there. Recently I got a job offer in korea, I am thinking about pros and cons of moving to korea. My main worry is about my wife , whether she can work there or not? Like she has 5 years banking experience, will it be easy for her to get job or some kind of english teacher job etc. It will be great if you can write something about this issue also

29 07 2010
Brijesh Bolar

Dear Rishi,

Thanks for your comments. Life is Korea is really great and you should not miss the opportunity of coming here at least for a few years.

To be frank your wife will not get a job here as an English Teacher. It is too complicated here. But she can get job to teach about Indian Culture in various schools. It will not be a fixed job and the schools will keep on changing. But she will be paid decently. From what I understand there is an agency who takes care of this. I will find out the details and will let you know or will post it in my blog.


17 08 2010

Can you please tell me some one can get the part time job like tution(2-3 hrs/day) in seoul,korea?
and how much one can get paid?

9 09 2010

Hi Brijesh,

Wd repeat what has already been said quite a few times across your blog’
Bravo, excellent blog…you are doing a real good job..’
As for me, I wd be shifting to Seoul in a couple of months with family…and have been searching net for info abt living in korea, education, accomodation, etc…Ur blog did help a lot in understanding the nuances of Korea living…thnx

I am a nutritionist and freelance writer and was wondering if you could provide any relevant links for possible job opportunities.

Also, education for my kids is a big issue as the international school sites seem very expensive as per Mumbai standards..a bit confused abt the process…guess will have to wait till i land in Korea.

Keep writing and Best wishes,

17 09 2010

Ur blogs are quite helpful for my future plan. I wit my 3 friends are about to give our exam of class 10 on 2011 Nd Dan would like 2 complete our study in yongsan international high school in seoul on scholarship so as we are student so we are finding for a flat with 3 or 4 bedroom 1 kitchen Nd 2 bathroom wit the income of about RS 25000 Nd so can u find a place for me.

6 10 2010

Is it possible to work on a visitor visa in Korea?

6 10 2010

I read your blog and found it very helpful. I have done Diploma in Computer Science and currently working in Govt Sector. I want to visit korea. Is it safe to visit korea alone? I am an Indian girl, 21 yrs old. Do I have any chances of getting any type of job in here?
Even if I dont get a job, What will be my expense for one week tour in Seoul including the fare from India.

7 10 2010
Brijesh Bolar

Dear Muskan,

Good to receive your comment on my blog.

Korea is the safest country in the world. The crime rate is very low in Korea. Koreans are very tolerant people and mind their own business. They will not create any problems as long as you are not creating any problems for them. (You meaning the foreign visitor).

Korea is a beautiful place and you must visit.

Finding a job on your own would be very difficult and rather impossible. Koreans recruit on the basis of recommendation. They would hire someone from the network of their Indian colleagues and friends. But you can visit the IndiansinKorea website ( and subscribe to their yahoo group. They regularly get email in the group with some job openings in Korea.

One important thing is that to qualify to get an E-7 visa to get a job here you need to be atleast a graduate (degree holder) and should have atleast 1-2 years of working experience in India. Otherwise you will be disqualified to find a job in Korea.

If you are planning to come here for a week then your expenses would be.

1. Lodging – $30 – $40 per day
2. Food – $5 – $6 for Mc Donalds, Burger king, $7 – $10 for Subway sandwich, Indian set meals (weekdays), Korean meals would be around $5. If you are a vegeterian then it would be more expensive as vegetarian food is hard to find here.
3. Travelling in subway / bus around Seoul – $1 for one way trip.
4. Travelling out of Seoul to other places would cost you $50 – $100 per trip depending upon the trip you decide. Oh yes, there is one trip to Gyeongju by Korean Government which is free of cost (travelling) once you reach there you ll have to manage your own expenses.

$1 is equivalent to 1000 won.

17 10 2010

Hi Brijesh,

Thanks a lot to you for providing such valuable information about Seoul. It is really useful. I just landed here last week and obviously I read many of your posting on this blog (however I will be here for 3 weeks only). Thanks a lot again. You are doing a great job and it inspires other Indians (including me) as well to do the same.

Jai Hind

21 10 2010

Hi Friend, the information you provided here is very detailed. Its very use full for 1st time comer to Korea. Great Job…. Thanks a lot

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