How to Budget in South Korea

Big Girl Budget

Being 24, with what would be considered a “big girl” income is all fun and games until it’s not. Because everything in Korea is so affordable, it can be very easy to spend all your coins in one shot. It is best to plan a budget and manage your income as soon as possible. This way, you can build financial independence and freedom while teaching abroad.

A tourist in Korea looking at a map in front of a temple palace

Fixed and Variable Costs

Although a teaching salary in Korea might not seem much to a US citizen, it is actually a livable income. Since teaching with Aclipse, I have been able to pay the bills and maintain a social life. The first step in creating a budget plan is calculating your monthly income and listing your monthly expenses. Fixed costs such as rent, wi-fi, credit cards, phone bills etc., are easy to manage. It’s the variables that can do some damage. For example, a utility bill in the summer.


Food Costs

Other variable expenses include food, transportation, and personal care. I try to alternate between cooking and dining out. After living here for almost six months, I find that there is no major price difference in dining in/out. You can purchase a meal, “banchan,” and drink included, for about 10,000 KRW or $7.50 USD. Since most of the produce in Korea is imported, it tends to be costly. But with time, you’ll learn to find the markets with the best deals.


Transportation Costs

The subway and bus will be your best friends here in Korea. They take you anywhere and everywhere. Try to avoid taxis at all costs. The prices aren’t absurd, but, if abused, can quickly add up.


Personal Care

I found it essential to add “personal care” to the list of variable costs. Believe me when I say, you will fall into the trap! The enlightenment by all the toners, exfoliants, serums, and face masks Korean health and beauty stores have to offer is a feeling like no other. Korean skin care is a game changer, spend wisely.

Savings Plan

A savings account might be the better option if you want to store your money and accumulate interest over time. Korean banks follow the same guideline as most banks around the globe. A customer deposits money into a savings account, the bank offers an interest rate for the deposited money, and the interest rate increases the longer the money is kept in that account. The average interest rate in most Korean banks ranges from 2-4%. Check out to find out more information on savings plans for foreignors in Korea.


Remaining balances should be used to create memories. Every weekend is an opportunity to do something fun, so make the most of your time overseas. There are plenty of budget friendly activities. Be sure to read Creatrips’s list of budget friendly things to do Good luck, and be sure to have some fun with your independence!!


Amber Ochoa is from Los Angeles, USA, and just recently moved to South Korea in May. She studied Biochemistry as an undergraduate. After graduation, she began venturing out and embracing her love for adventure. She finds that “nothing holds greater power in our life than the unknown.” One night while applying to random jobs on Indeed, she came across an English teaching position in Seoul, Korea. Flash forward, she is now teaching at CDI, Mokdong branch. She claims that Creverse found her and ended up becoming a blessing in disguise. Amber says giving knowledge to students & inspiring them for higher achievements in life is one of the greatest feelings in the world.