Working in Yangju, South Korea
Monthly Earnings 54,000 baht (equivalent)
Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)
The salary listed, converted to Thai Baht, is after all deductions (insurance, pension and housing bills).
I work at a small private language institute about 32 kilometers north of Seoul and technically it is a full time salary. I see quite a few teaching jobs here in South Korea paying the same (2.1 million won per month before deductions). However my total working hours, AT MOST, are roughly 25 a week. I teach a maximum of 4 classes per day back to back. My working hours are from 2:30 p.m to 6:30 p.m, but I go in a bit early to get ready for the day.
I don't engage in any extra work, at least not yet. In fact I quite enjoy having my mornings and early afternoons off. I wake up, read my news outlets, drink coffee, go to the gym and head off to work. Too easy right?
Q2. How much money can you save each month?
Well, South Korea has different prices to Thailand for sure. Like anywhere else, this all depends on one's lifestyle. If I were a dedicated hermit, I could probably save $1000 US, or, 33,000 baht a month. But I've been doing this a long time - too long in fact. So, when reality comes calling, I save between the equivalent of 17,000 to 25,000 a month.
Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?
This is one perk for teaching in South Korea (sadly, perks like this are slowly fading). My apartment is paid for by the school. Granted, I certainly would prefer a different location, as I am a bit out in the middle of nowhere (but, not like being out in the middle of nowhere in Na Kae).
Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?
I would say the equivalent of 1,800 Baht.
Most likely around 2,100 Baht.
Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping
Ah, yes. I don't hold back on this. If I want something, I normally do not deny myself. I normally, NORMALLY, allow my budget to be about 1,000 Baht a day. With that I can either go out to eat or shop for cooking up a masterpiece at home.
Nightlife and drinking
Well, the nightlife is around. But, I'm close to a newly developing mini-town, so it is slow going . I seem to be the only foreigner in this area, so I'm not a fan of being a "Johnny-no-Friends" at the local pub. I usually stay in, drink my beer/wine and enjoy my time watching movies, sports and chipping away at a book before I go to bed. I do go out about twice a week, though. I meet up with a few folks and enjoy some of that famous Korean BBQ or I head down to Seoul.
When we refer to the other "Nightlife" well, that is usually for Koreans. Foreigners here don't necessarily have that option on a wide scale platform, as one would see in Thailand or in those designated spots famous for this topic.
I have a very nice LG, which I bought for about 20,000 baht. With regards to books, I have to really search. I don't enjoy on-line books as much as I do a physical book but there are a few places that offer English reading selections, although the selection tends to be directed towards the modern "snowflake".
Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?
Considering the fact that wages in this industry here have been stale for quite some time, with prices ever increasing, I would say that I still live rather well. I am single with no kids, so I don't have that worry added to my life. Also, as I don't work even 30 hours a week, the money I make is rather good. I see many charlatan teaching jobs here that require 10-hour working days, paying the same wages. It really has gone downhill in some aspects, here in the Land of the Morning Calm.
I have taught in Thailand before and despite my efforts to make an honest go of it, I did not enjoy myself for different reasons. Though I am not totally giving up on that option, as I never was really in a location I truly wanted to be in and that was dictated by certain circumstances. So who knows what the future holds?
I consider my standard of living here to be decent. I don't have to work hard (though I love my job) for the money I make, most things are at my disposal and I am looking out at snow as I write this. I love snow.
I could do more with my time here without question but I think the stars aligned in the right place, so that I don't have to worry about too much this time around. I like this pace.
Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?
Public transportation (taxis, buses, Seoul Metro Subway)...clean, cheap and no hassles like one would experience in Bangkok (we all know what they are).
Korean food can often be found at very good prices but even that is changing. I think the "bargain" is the overall package. I receive medical insurance, participate in the National Pension plan and don't worry about taxes eating away at my salary
My rent is free and I work at a good school that offers anything I need in terms of resources. I get all the holidays (including Christmas) and my personal 10 working days of vacation time. I also receive a bonus and ticket home at the end of my contract. Granted finding a school in Korea that does what it is SUPPOSED to do may be a real bargain. So I'm thankful .
I don't think Thailand can compete with this, at least on the scale of a private language institute.
Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?
I would suspect one could get by on about 30,000 baht. Normally the rent is taken care of by the school so that allows a higher degree of financial flexibility .
Phil's analysis and comment
Many thanks Josh. It's always good to hear from teachers who are not only teaching in other Asian countries but also have experience teaching in Thailand. It sounds like you are much happier where you are now.
I spent over a week in Seoul several years back (I know it's not exactly where you live and work) and I was very impressed. I thought the city had a terrific vibe - lots to do, plenty of nice affordable restaurants and I found the locals every bit as friendly as those in Thailand. I would certainly love to go back one day.
Years ago, your first thoughts when contemplating a move to work in another Asian capital city was 'oh but the cost of living is so much higher'. But with Bangkok becoming noticeably more and more expensive these days, it's perhaps not quite the issue it was.