If you are planning a trip, or even thinking of moving to Korea, you would be worried about the setting the budget. How expensive is it to live in Seoul?
We'll take a look at the global standard indexes, and examine the price level by categories. Check this blog before coming to Korea to set budgets on food, accommodation and more!
1. Price Index
Cost of Living Index
The 'Cost of living' is the amount of money needed to sustain a certain standard of living. This includes basic expenses such as housing, food, taxes and healthcare. This index is frequently used to compare the price level of different cities.
This map shows the 'Cost of Living' in different cities of the world. Dark red is the most expensive to live in, and dark green is the place you can live with the least expenses. (Source: Numbeo)
As you can see in the above map, Seoul is one of the most expensive cities to live in Asia. To summarize, the cost of living in South Korea is 1.29% higher than in the United States, and the rent is 47% lower, on average. The US has more than twice the GDP per capita compared to Korea, but the cost of living is similar. You could tell Korea is quite an expensive place to live in.
You can see the detailed list of items here.
A single person's monthly cost is around ￦1,224,388, which is 22% lower than in New York. Seoul has a cost of living index of 77.50 It ranks 45th out of 477 cities in the world. Index shows that Korea is quite an expensive place to live in. Let's see how expensive each items actually are.
Big Mac & Starbucks Index
The Big Mac Index is the price of the burgers converted to the US dollar. It can be used to measure the purchasing power of each country. It shows the actual buying power of the currency which could be different from the currency exchange rate. Also, you could get the idea of the price level of foods in Korea.
You can find McDonald's anywhere around the world, which makes the index relevant.
Starbucks index compares the price of a tall Starbucks latte (Source : finder.com). Korea ranks 32nd among 76 countries. Compare it with the coffee price in your home country to see how expensive it is.
The indexes might be too vague to give you the idea of the actual prices. We'll give you the actual costs of necessary spending in Korea. I hope this comes in handy when you are setting your travel budget!
You can tell from the price index that burgers and coffees are cheaper in Korea, compared to the US, but when compared with other Asian countries, Korea has a higher price on average.
The following table has the average prices of the menus locals most frequently have. Consider that these are the average prices from Seoul. If you visit other areas, you might find different prices.
|Gimbap (Rice Roll)||￦2,500 ~ ￦4,000|
|Kimchi-jjigae (Kimchi Stew)||￦6,000 ~ ￦8,000|
|Samgyeopsal (Pork Belly)||￦9,900 ~ ￦13,000|
|Tteok-bokki (Stir-fried Rice Cake)||￦3,000 ~ ￦4,500|
|Samgyetang (Chicken Soup)||￦15,000 ~ ￦16,000|
|Bibimbap||￦6,000 ~ ￦7,000|
|Sandwich||￦2,000 ~ ￦3,500|
|Fried Chicken||￦15,000 ~ ￦18,000|
Another thing to keep mind is that you need to pay the delivery fee when you are ordering food from home. Try Creatrip delivery service if you are looking for a convenient and cheap delivery service!
3. Drinks and Desserts
There are many cafes with a variety of coffee and desserts in Korea. Keep in mind that there are cafes that specialize in cheap price or quality food, and the price can differ.
|Americano (Tall)||₩4,100||₩2,000 to ₩4,000|
|Caffe Latte (Tall)||₩4,600||₩3,000 to ₩5,000|
|Green Tea (Tall)||₩4,900||₩3,500 to ₩5,000|
|Cake||₩5,900 ~ ₩6,900||₩6,000 to ₩9,000|
The advantage of coffee chains is that you'll get what you expect and that the store will be nice and clean. On the contrary, in private cafes, you might get what you didn't expect, in a good or the other way.
Make the most of the membership cards and promotion events, and you'll be able to get drinks and desserts at the lowest price. Check out Creatrip cafe discount coupons to get the best price!
If you are staying in Korea for a while, you'll need to shop for groceries. You'll find out that it's not just on the restaurants, but the ingredients are expensive themselves. We have listed the prices of daily necessities in the table below. Note that if you shop in supermarkets like E-mart, you might find promotion events that offer better prices!
|Milk (One Liter)||₩2,500 ~ ₩3,500|
|Eggs (30)||₩4,000 ~ ₩6,000|
|Mineral Water||₩600 ~ ₩950|
|Ramen (Each)||₩750 ~ ₩950|
|Ramen (Pack)||₩3,500 ~ ₩5,000|
|Snacks||₩1,000 to ₩1,500|
The public transportation system is well established in Korea, and the fares are relatively cheap compared to other costs. If you use a Korean transportation card, you can get additional discounts between transfer. Check out Korean Transportation 101 for detailed tips!
|Type||Base Fare||Additional Cost|
every 132m／31 seconds
every 164m／39 seconds
There's a 20% additional fee after midnight.
|Blue Bus||Adult - ₩1,200|
|Teens - ₩720|
|Children - ₩450|
|Green Bus||Adult - ₩1,200|
|Teens - ₩720|
|Children - ₩450|
|Red Bus||Adult - ₩2,300|
|Teens - ₩1,360|
|Children - ₩1,200|
|Yellow Bus||Adult - ₩1,200|
|Teens - ₩560|
|Children - ₩350|
|Adult Fare||Teen Fare||Children Fare|
Try taking the bus or the subway instead of taxis. Because the traffic in Seoul is heavy, it might be risky to take the cab, which doesn't have its exclusive route. You can calculate almost the exact time if you travel through the subway. Also, you'll get to save some budget!
5. Communication Charge
Korea is famous for its fast internet and mobile network. If you visit a cafe or a restaurant, or even on the subway, you'll have access to WiFi. If you are travelling in Seoul, you'll feel almost no trouble without paid internet.
However, you wouldn't want to get lost with no access to the internet. Also, it is very convenient that you don't have to look for WiFis everywhere you go. We have listed the price of each SIM card in the table below. For details, take a look at Creatrip SIM Card offers to get the best price!
*All prices are based on 5-day usage.
When travelling abroad, the most expensive criteria would be the accommodations. Seoul's hotels are relatively expensive, and if you travel in vacation seasons like the winter, summer, and Christmas it gets even more expensive. If you want to find out more detailed information check out our latest blog on accommodations.
|Hotel Twin Room||₩80,000 to ₩120,000|
|Hostel||₩40,000 to ₩60,000|
|Guest House||₩10,000 to ₩20,000|
If you are planning a long term stay in Korea the accommodation becomes a bigger problem. Seoul is a city with one of the highest rents in Asia, and it is not easy to find better offers as a foreigner since almost all real estate managers don't speak English.
Seoul Studio Monthly Rent Rankings
|5. Seodaemun-gu, Yongsan-gu||500,000KRW|
|6. Mapo-gu, Songpa-gu||490,000KRW|
|8. Seongdong-gu, Yeongdeungpo-gu||460,000KRW|
|9. Yangcheon-gu, Dongdaemun-gu||450,000KRW|
|10. Jungnang-gu, Seongbuk-gu||440,000KRW|
|11. Gwangjin-gu, Dongjak-gu||430,000KRW|
|14. Gangbuk-gu, Guro-gu, Dobong-gu, Eunpyeong-gu||350,000KRW|
*Studios with a total floor area below 33m². Based on deposit of 10 million KRW
The table above shows the average rental fee of single-room studios. Keep in mind that you have to pay a deposit of ￦10,000,000. You can see that areas that are located at the center of Seoul, or around the business district are generally more expensive. Take the neighbourhood, transportation, school, and workplace into account with the rents to make the optimal decision!
We have gathered information on expenses in Korea! I hope this is helpful for preparing your travel. If you have any questions or suggestions, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you next time!