Working in Seoul, South Korea

Monthly Earnings 120,000 baht per month

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

120,000 is the total salary. I teach social studies at an international school in Korea. If you choose, and I often do, you can teach extra classes for around 1,700 baht an hour. This can boost the salary a bit as well. These are at the school and can be in any elective subject or extra English classes.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

I consider myself a 'super saver' so I save about 80 percent of my salary. Therefore about 90,000 baht a month. I usually shop at Costco as well and this keeps my overheads down.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

The school gives me a stipend of about 20,000 baht for housing (which is not that much in Seoul actually) but it seems to cover the majority of housing options.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?


2,700 baht a month. This is the best deal in all of Seoul. The subway/bus system is about 45 baht a ride. You cannot even compare how much better, quicker and farther ranging the Seoul subway is compared to Bangkok's. It gets crowded at times but people are generally considerate and polite.

Utility bills

In Winter, this would be about 7-8,000 baht. Seoul gets damn cold and heating is not cheap. I try to use my heat only a moderate amount. Most of my co-workers pay a lot more for this. Summer would be down to 5-6,000 baht. Seoul is ultra freezing in winter and even hotter than Thailand in June, July and August. Basically, the weather sucks. You just have to manage.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

8-10,000 baht a month. Costco is a life-saver here and keeps the bills down. A healthy and tasty meal in a normal Korean restaurant will cost about 200-300 baht for a huge plate of Korean food. Supermarkets are pretty expensive, but local veggie and fruit markets are about half the price.

Nightlife and drinking

3,000 baht. I don't go out much these days like I used to in Thailand but usually have a date or two per week. Seoul is very competitive for bars, clubs and eating spots so there are plenty of deals to be found.

Books, computers

None. School provides us with computers and 300 dollars a year to buy books for our professional development.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

I have a pretty easy job with smart, enthusiastic students in a slightly less fun country than Thailand - but am really enjoying it for the more orderly life.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

The subway is damn near free it is so cheap. It goes everywhere within a 2-hour radius. You can reach mountains, valleys, satellite cities and beaches for about 60 baht. Seoul is surrounded by gorgeous mountain ranges so hiking is a very popular pastime here. Besides maybe Hong Kong, I am not sure there are more accessible mountains next to any metropolis in the world. Great for dates too!

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

I would say with about 80,000 baht a month, you could have a comfortable life (if housing is also taken care of by your school)

I work at an international school that is like a B-level school - not a top level place but also not a fraudster place either. It would probably be considered a bilingual school in a lot of countries. The English teaching business has been in real decline in Korea for the last eight or so years. Lots of people have moved to China or Vietnam for similar wages and much lower expenses.

Phil's analysis and comment

Thanks Joey.  So there you go - an 80,000 baht salary and a decent housing allowance will get you a good standard of living in Seoul.  I'm guessing that Costco is a budget supermarket chain of some description, rather like Aldi or Lidl? 

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