Cost of Living in South Korea

The cost of living for expats in South Korea is generally quite affordable, but this can vary from city to city.

The main areas of expenditure are housing and education, while general transport costs remain low. Eating Korean food is a lot cheaper than buying Western food, and shopping at markets and smaller shops is more cost-effective than shopping in tourist hotspots or at major department stores. 

It should also be kept in mind that prices between cities and smaller towns will differ and that the cost of living in Seoul will, on the whole, be more expensive than in other cities.

Cost of accommodation in South Korea

Generally, an expat's employer will organise an apartment for them. If a foreigner chooses to organise their own accommodation, they will be expected to pay ‘key money’, which is in effect a very large deposit that the landlord earns interest from. 

Cost of electrical goods in South Korea

Electrical goods such as televisions, DVD players, digital cameras, cellular telephones, computers and high tech gadgets are all relatively affordable in South Korea. Foreign manufactured goods from toiletries (deodorant, toothpaste containing fluoride) and English language books through to Nikon cameras and Apple products are obviously more expensive than items made locally. Many South Koreans take advantage of the myriad of discounts offered through online purchases.

Cost of food in South Korea

Foodstuffs that are mostly taken for granted in Western countries, such as fresh produce, will generally cost more in South Korea than an expat would have paid back home. Dining out is, however, inexpensive if one sticks to Korean food. Dining out at Western restaurants comes with a higher price tag.

Cost of living in South Korea chart 

Prices may vary depending on product and service provider. The list below shows average prices in Seoul for July 2018.

Accommodation (rent per month)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

KRW 1,300,000

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

KRW 3,200,000

One-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

KRW 900,000

Three-bedroom apartment outside of the city centre

KRW 2,300,000


Eggs (dozen)

KRW 3,800

Milk (1 litre)

KRW 2,500

Rice (1kg)

KRW 4,400

Loaf of white bread

KRW 2,900

Chicken breasts (1kg)

KRW 10,000

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

KRW 4,500

Eating out

Big Mac Meal

KRW 6,000

Coca-Cola (330ml)   

KRW 1,600


KRW 4,800

Bottle of local beer

KRW 4,000

Three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant

KRW 25,000


Mobile to mobile call rate (per minute)

KRW 150

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable  – average per month)

KRW 28,500

Basic utilities (per month for a small apartment)

KRW 300,000


Taxi rate (per kilometre)

KRW 800

Bus/train fare in the city centre

KRW 1,250

Petrol/Gasoline (per litre)

KRW 1,600

Andrea and Matt Our Expat Expert

We're a (semi) newlywed couple who quit our jobs and left our home to travel the world, indulge our wanderlust, and document it every step of the way. We've spent the last year teaching English in Korea, and now we're off for a several-month tour of Southeast Asia. From there, who knows? We’ll go wherever our hearts desire and our budget allows. Follow us around the world!