Is Seoul, Korea Expensive…

11 05 2010

… well that depends upon where you coming from. If you are coming from US, UK, Australia or any other developed nation then you would find Korea much much cheaper. But if you are coming from a developing country like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal etc. then it is definitely expensive as compared to your home country.

For this article I’d comparing the expenses with Mumbai, India. First, we will talk about accommodation. As I come from Mumbai I feel the house rent in Seoul is equivalent to Mumbai rentals.  For Rs. 20,000 to 25,000 you might get a 1 BHK flat in Andheri, Powai area of Mumbai where as in Seoul you might get a studio apartment or a house with 2 rooms for Rs. 20,000 ($500). So rent wise I feel Seoul is not that expensive.

Food, is definitely expensive. You can easily find Indian grocery here but you would end up paying twice or thrice of the printed price (MRP). An happy meal in Mc Donalds would cost you Rs. 200/- ($5) and dinner in any Indian Restaurant for two would set you back by Rs. 1000-12000/- ($30).

Clothes are cheaper. You would find decent clothing for Rs. 200 – 400 ($5-$10) (not branded) at Dongdaemun, Namdaemun area. Seoul could be like a paradise for females interested in shopping clothes and accessories. And trust me you would get the best designs, fabric, patterns, cuts n shades over here. Branded clothes are way too expensive.

Books, are expensive, almost double the price than what you would pay at Landmark or Crossword in India. So pack your fiction collection while coming to Korea.

Medicines, and a visit to Doctor is expensive too. A visit to a general physician would be anywhere between Rs. 100-400/- ($3-$9) and medicines would starts from Rs. 50/- ($1) onwards provided your company have covered you for Health Insurance.

Public Transport is again expensive as compared to Mumbai. The minimum distance in Subway or Bus is almost Rs. 40/- ($1) whereas in Taxi it is Rs. 100/- ($3).

Mobile phone is slightly expensive. A prepaid phone (including secondhand handset) would cost you Rs. 400/- ($10) per month whereas a new postpaid phone would cost you approx. Rs. 800/- ($20) per month for their services. International calling cards are cheaper. For Rs. 800/-  ($20) you would get approx 300 minutes. And a VOIP service would cost you Rs. 800/- ($20) for 1000 minutes.

Internet is cheaper, much much cheaper than India. For Rs. 1600/- ($40) per month you get unlimited download and crazy speed.

Electricity, Gas, Heater, Water etc is equivalent or may be cheaper than Mumbai. It would come down to Rs. 1500-1600 ($40) per month depending upon the usage. But during winter the bill shoots up to almost Rs. 4000/- ($100) per month if you use the heater a lot.

Fitness is free if you get up early in the morning and go running to parks or go for hiking on weekends. Some parks have machines for workout which can be used for free. But if you have to join some Gym / Sauna then it might workout a bit expensive than Mumbai.

Haircut, would cost around Rs. 300 – Rs. 400 ($7-$10) for men and Rs. 400 – Rs. 600 ($10 – $15) for women.

Maids are appointed by hour. And they do all household cleaning, ironing etc. in that hour. For an hour of services they charge around Rs. 400 ($10) so instead of calling them everyday people call maids once a week. For detailed information on Maid Service you can check this article on KMK’s blog.

Entertainment can be expensive depending upon where you want to go. A movie ticket would cost you Rs. 350/- ($10) per head. And popcorn and all would cost you somewhere between 100-200 rs ($2-$5). Parks are mostly free but some might charge you for the entry if it is well maintained. Art galleries and museums would charge you some entry fee.

Education for kids is expensive and is a different topic of discussion altogether. But lot of kids study in Korea. So may be I am not the right person to answer this.

Well thats about it…. if there is anything else specific you want to know then just put a comment and I’ll find it out for you..  For more details you can also check my previous article on Cost of Living in Seoul, Korea.


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.