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Cost of living in Seoul Korea 2012


For anybody who is planning to move to South Korea either for job or for study, the first thing that you would want to know is – what would be the cost of living in Korea for me and my family (if applicable) and second thing you would want to know is – Can I survive in Korea – in terms of food, language and culture.

I did write about Cost of living in Korea, when I first moved to Korea in 2010. And that article has helped a lot of people planning to relocate to Korea. It pretty much addressed the question about what is the cost of living for an individual in Korea but it does not necessarily answer questions about cost of living for a family in Korea. So this time I did a small survey with my friends in Korea to understand their cost of living as a student, as a working professional, as a married couple with no kids and as a couple with kids.

These are my findings that I would like to share with you so that it can help you with your relocation to Korea. You can directly jump to the section that is more relevant to you.

Cost of Living in Korea 2012

Myeongdong, Seoul – Sungjin Kim Photography

Cost of living in Korea for a bachelor (single student or working professional)

Expenses Minimum Maximum
Accommodation – Housing Rent 300000 600000
Maintenance – Electricity, Water and Gas 100000 200000
Food 200000 500000
Mobile 20000 80000
Internet 20000 40000
Traveling – daily commute to work 50000 100000
Doctor 5000 10000
Other Expenses (partying, trips etc.) 60000 400000
Total Cost of living for bachelors  KRW 755000  KRW 1930000
Total Cost of living in Dollars  $700  $1900

Let me present two hypothetical individuals to understand the cost of living better.

Cost of living in Seoul Korea 2012

Maya, 22, Student – South Africa

Cost of living in Korea for Maya, 22, Female Student from South Africa

  • Receives 500,000 KRW in scholarship per month towards her living expense
  • She lives in a Goshiwon where one time meal is provided along with breakfast
  • The Goshiwon where she stays is close to her university so she does not have to travel much.
  • Owns a basic mobile phone with a calling card facility to call home (abroad).
  • She uses the Internet facility in her college lab.
  • She is not insured, as she cannot afford the insurance. She asks her parents to send her the medicine from her hometown.
  • All her weekends she is busy studying and completing her assignments, so partying and hanging out with friends is out of question for her.
  • She manages to keep her monthly expenses below 500,000 KRW – (approx. $500 per month).
Cost of Living in Seoul Korea 2012

Sameer, 27, Engineer – Dubai

Cost of living in Korea for Sameer, 27, Male, Chemical Engineer from Dubai

  • Lives in a Studio Apartment in Seoul.
  • His office is in downtown Gangnam area whereas he stays in the metropolitan area of Seoul, so he has to commute daily to work via subway trains.
  • Owns a smart phone with a 3G facility for Internet browsing on the move.
  • His monthly visits to the doctor are as low as 10,000 won (including medicines) as his employer insures him.
  • On weekends he is busy clubbing, partying or exploring Korea.
  • A major chunk of his salary goes towards maintaining his lifestyle.
  • His expenses are around 1800,000 KRW per month - (approx. $1800 per month).

Few important things to remember

  • Individuals who live frugally manage to keep their expenses well below 500,000 KRW per month.
  • Individuals who live on a room-sharing basis manage to cut down their cost on housing rent and maintenance by almost 50%.
  • Individuals who stay close to their office or university manage to save some money on their daily commute. But if the office were located in the popular or commercial area then the rental would be very high.
  • Individuals who cook their own food have managed to cut down their cost to a great extent.

Cost of living in Korea for a married couple with no kids

Expenses Minimum Maximum
Accommodation – Housing Rent 500000 1700000
Maintenance – Electricity, Water and Gas 100000 200000
Food 100000 800000
Mobile 20000 140000
Internet 40000 40000
Traveling – daily commute to work 50000 100000
Doctor 15000 60000
Other Expenses 50000 200000
Total Cost of living for Couples KRW 875000 KRW 3240000
Total Cost of living in Dollars  $850  $3000

Let me present two hypothetical couples to understand the cost of living better.

Cost of living for Rajeev and Riya from India

Cost of Living in Seoul Korea 2012

Rajeev and Riya from India

  • Rajeev, 27 is a PhD Student and Riya, 25 is a housewife.
  • They both live in small apartment in Seoul.
  • The apartment is close to their university so he does not have to travel much.
  • They both own a basic mobile phone with a calling card facility to call home.
  • They have Internet facility at home.
  • They are both insured, so visiting a doctor is not very expensive.
  • They prefer cooking food at home.
  • They prefer online shopping on gmarket and craigslist.
  • Weekend expenses are minimal as most of the time they are busy attending community gatherings. Trips to exploring Korea are occasional.
  • They manage to keep their monthly expenses below 800,000 KRW – (approx. $800 per month).

Cost of living for Eric and Kim, from United States

Cost of Living in Seoul Korea 2012

Eric and Kim from United States

  • Eric 32 is a Marketing Consultant and Kim 27 is an English Teacher in Korea
  • They both live n a spacious apartment in downtown Gangnam area of Seoul.
  • Since his office is in downtown Gangnam area he does not have to commute much to work.
  • They both own a smart phone with a 3G facility for Internet browsing on the move.
  • Their monthly visits to the doctor are as low as 15,000 won (including medicines) as his employer insures both of them.
  • Sometimes they cook, sometimes they order food from restaurants.
  • On weekends they are mostly at movies or watching plays, shopping, exploring art galleries and cafes around Seoul. They like exploring interesting places in Korea.
  • Their monthly cost of living is around 3000,000 KRW - (approx. $3000 per month).

Few important things to remember

  • Couples who live frugally have managed to keep their cost of living well below 800,000 KRW
  • Couples who cook their own food have managed to cut down their cost to a great extent.
  • Couples who are insured are more prepared to face unexpected contingencies.
  • Finding an accommodation is based on mutual convenience most of the time.

Cost of living in Korea for a married couple with kids

Expenses Minimum Maximum
Accommodation – Housing Rent 500000 1000000
Maintenance – Electricity, Water and Gas 150000 450000
Food 150000 500000
Communication – Mobile & Internet 50000 200000
Traveling – daily commute to work 50000 100000
Kids Education 300000 1700000
Doctor 10000 50000
Total Cost of living for Families KRW 1210000 KRW 4000000
Total Cost of living in Dollars  $1200  $4000

Let me present two hypothetical families to understand the cost of living better.

Cost of Living for Salim, Sanjida from Singapore and their newborn kid

Cost of living in Seoul Korea 2012

Salim, Sanjida from Singapore and their infant kid

  • Salim, 33 is a Software Engineer and Sanjida, 26 is a housewife with a newborn kid.
  • They both live in small apartment in Seoul.
  • The apartment is not close to the office so Salim has to travel for work everyday.
  • They both own a basic mobile phone with a calling card facility to call home.
  • They have Internet facility at home.
  • They are both insured, but their expenses on their newborn kid are a bit high.
  • They cook food at home.
  • They prefer online shopping on gmarket and craigslist.
  • Weekend expenses are minimal as most of the time they are busy attending community gatherings.
  • They manage to keep their monthly expenses below 1200,000 KRW  - (approx. $1200 per month).

Cost of living for Madhav and Megha from India and their two kids Mansi and Mandar

Cost of Living in Seoul Korea 2012

Madhav and Megha from India with their kids Mansi and Mandar

  • Madhav 45 is a Sr. Research Engineer and Megha 40 is a housewife in Korea. They both have 2 kids – Mansi who is 11 yrs old and Mandar who is 5 yrs old.
  • They live in a spacious apartment in Daegu.
  • The apartment is not close to the office so Madhav has to travel for work everyday.
  • They own a basic mobile phone with a calling card facility to call home.
  • They have Internet facility at home.
  • They are all insured, which helps them to keep their medical expenses low.
  • They cook their food at home.
  • They prefer online shopping on gmarket and craigslist.
  • They send Mandar to an English Kindergarten and Megha to an International Highschool in Korea
  • They manage to keep their monthly expenses below 4000,000 KRW  - (approx. $4000 per month).

Few important things to remember

  • Families who send their kids to a Korean kindergarten pay around 250,000~300,000 KRW ($250 – $300) per month as Kindergarten fees.
  • Families who send their kids to 100% English kindergarten pay around 500,000~600,000 KRW ($500 – $600) per month as kindergarten.
  • Fees for educating your kids from a Korean elementary school is free, but its start from the age of six.
  • Families who send their kids to an International English pay around 1,300,000~1,700,000 KRW ($130 – $1700) per month per kid as fees.
  • Families who are insured are more prepared to face unexpected contingencies.

Other important points to remember

Accommodation: your Korean company can help you with the accommodation in the following ways.

  • They provide you with accommodation so you do not have to worry about the monthly rent, deposits and maintenance.
  • They provide you with accommodation so you do not have to worry about the monthly rent and deposits but the maintenance expenses will have to be borne by you.
  • They do not provide you with accommodation but they can provide you with the deposit money. In this case you have to pay the monthly rent as well as the maintenance.
  • They do not provide you with accommodation or deposit money but they sometimes provide you with relocation expenses.

Deposit: The refundable deposit for a studio apartment could be anywhere around 2000,000 KRW (2 Million Won), whereas the refundable deposit for a spacious apartment would be around 15,000,000 KRW (15 Million Won).

Lease: There is a Lease system in Korea called as “Jeonse”. This system is almost outdated and abolished in Seoul but is still applicable in other parts of Korea. Under Jeonse system, one is supposed to pay around 15 – 20 Million Won ($15000 – $20000) as refundable deposit for atleast a year along with the monthly rent of 150,000 KRW to 250,000 KRW ($150 – $250) depending upon number of rooms in the apartment.

Studio apartments – also known as Goshiwon or Hasuk Jib in Korean are the cheapest for students if your college is not providing you with hostel or accommodation facility. Your monthly expenses would be as low as 10,000 won ($10) per day (or 300,000 won ($300) per month) including one time meal and breakfast.

Maintenance: As you would be required to keep your house warm by heating the floors during winter, your cost of maintenance (gas and electricity) could go up by almost 100 percent. In short, be prepared to pay double the maintenance during winters.

International Calling Cards: Internet VOIP services works out much cheaper than calling cards for making international calls.

Doctor: For general sickness like fever and cold, your one time consultation fee with a doctor would be around 6000 won, if you are covered by National Health Insurance (mandatory for employees working in a Korean company).

Food: Your cost of living would reduce considerably if you cook your food at home. So if you all your meals at home then your expenses on food would be as low as 200,000 won ($200). If you eat one meal in a Korean restaurant and cook the other meal at home your expenses would be around 400,000 won ($400) and if you eat all your meals outside then your expenses would be around 500,000 won ($500) approximately.

Working hours: People work normally for over 10 hours a day going up to 12 – 14 hrs per day.

Learning Korean Language: There are a few places where you can learn Korean for free (Seoul Global Center, Korean Foundation Center, Onnuri Church and others) but then if would like to go for private classes or regular evening classes at a Korean University then you would be expected to pay around 300,000 won ($300) to 500,000 won ($500) per month towards tuitions.

Other expenses: like clubbing, drinking, movies, dining out, partying, weekend trips across Korea could be anywhere around 200,000 won ($200) to 500,000 won ($500) per month per head.

Scholarship / Assistantship: The scholarship or assistantship money, which you get as a student in Korea, is generally very less considering the expenses for living in a costly city like Seoul. It is difficult to save money if you are a student so life can get a bit tough for students in Korea.

Do not forget to carry a Universal Travel Charger / Adapter plug for charging your laptop.

To answer your second question – Can I survive in Korea? We recommend you read the following articles:

Total no. of people surveyed: 15

I would like to thank all of the above members personally for taking out time from their busy schedule and giving us their valuable inputs for this post. I am sure a lot of people across the world would benefit from their inputs. But I am sorry I am not at the liberty to disclose their names so as to respect their privacy.

If you are living in Korea and have something valuable to add to this post from your experience then please leave your feedback in the comment section below.

image source: Corbis and Imagebazaar

Comments (169)

  • Han

    Hi,
    I have read your blog almost everyday.
    My name is Han. I am a student in Viet Nam. And I am planning to work in Korea in the next 2-3 years. I dont know how can I find a job in Viet Nam before moving to Korea. Can you give me any information? Thank you.
    Love your blog!!! :)

    Reply
  • Karthik

    Hello,

    I am a Professional employee for Microsoft in India. I am planning to relocate to Korea on self-expenses. Please help me with acquiring a good job and accomodation in Seoul, Korea. Also, can you provide a detailed cost breakup in rupeed (Rs.) for me like rent(Studio apts), monthly expenditure, etc…

    Any help will be highly appreciated..

    Regards,
    Karthik

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      Dear Karthik,

      Your expenses in INR should be as follows (approximately)

      Accommodation – Housing Rent – Rs. 25000
      Maintenance – Electricity, Water and Gas – Rs. 10000
      Food Rs 10000 (if you can cook at home)
      Mobile – Rs. 1000
      Internet – Rs 2000
      Traveling – daily commute to work – Rs 5000
      Total Cost of living for bachelors – Rs 55000 (approx per month). So whatever you earn above that would go towards your savings or other lifestyle expenses.
      If your company provides you with the accommodation you can save additional Rs. 25000.

      For finding jobs you can check this link
      http://www.thekoreaguide.com/category/jobs-in-korea/
      http://www.thekoreaguide.com/2010/09/15/finding-jobs-in-korea/

      For accommodation (in Seoul) you can use this link
      http://seoul.craigslist.co.kr/apa/

      Reply
      • Karthik

        Thanks a lot buddy. One more thing. How do I apply for Visa. Do I need to know someone residing in Korea or I should apply for a job in Korea from India itself.

        Regards,
        Karthik

        Reply
        • TheKoreaGuide

          Dear Karthik,

          To apply for visa you need to get a job offer first in Korea. So ideally you should start applying for jobs and give telephonic interviews. If you are selected then the Korean company will offer you the job and will do the necessary paperwork to give you the visa issuance number.

          This is how it goes.
          1. You need to submit all your documents (work experience, education, certifications, passport copy) online to your company.
          2. You company will start the process and they will let you know all the formalities that you need to do. You may be required to submit some form, by downloading it, filling the form offline and then scanning the form with your signature.
          3. There will be some cross check (verification) by a Korean agency who will check for your credentials.
          4. Once everything is clear from your side, the company will issue you a visa issuance number which you need to then submit it to the Korean Embassy in your city in India, along with your passport and other documents like your bank statement, tax papers and all.
          5. The Korean embassy would then issue an E-7 visa to issue (for software developers)

          The entire process should take around 2-3 months from the time you get a job offer.
          So start applying now.

          Knowing in Korea would help you to relocate (finding accommodation, indian grocery etc) – nothing more. But all that comes later. First you need to find a job.

          All the best with your job search.

          - The Korea Guide

          Reply
  • Parisa

    Hi
    I’m a 19 year old student from Iran ,my major is spanish language and my second language in university is korean! I’m enchanted by everything about korea!
    I was wondering if I get a student visa and come to korea will I be able to earn enough money to live my life as a translator? I know English ,Spanish ,Arabic ,German ,Persian and Korean.

    Thanks in advance
    Parisa

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      Dear Parisa,

      I am not sure if you are allowed to work as a student, but then people do work and study here.
      Try your luck is all I can say. You might end up getting some short term assignments if you put your profile on various forums here in Korea.

      Websites like Yonsei, Hi Seoul and others have a dashboard for putting requests.
      Alternatively you can send your resumes to some translation companies based out of Korea.

      Reply
      • rich

        Many students work on the sly but officially people on D-2 visas (student visas) are not supposed to work during their first semester of study. The following semesters you can add part-time jobs but not sure the limit of hours. During holidays/vacations you can work full-time.

        Visa laws change randomly so the best advice is to see if the school you study at has support for international students and ask them.

        Reply
  • Lusi

    Hello,

    I and my two friends will be stay for a month in Seoul next August until September for the internship. And we are looking for a cheap flat/apartment for us. I read all your information, but I didn’t understand of deposit. Should we give 2,000,000 KRW first to rent an apartment? And we are looking for your advices of the living cost for us for a month. We prefer to look for a place near Yeongdeongpo-gu, because the office of our internship is there. Thank you so much ^^

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      Dear Lusi,

      Since you are going for a few months you would be not be required to pay so much deposit. Your deposit could be around 500,000 KRW or no deposit at all. Depends upon the owner. And yes, you will have to pay the deposit first to rent the apartment. That money will be returned back to you when you empty that apartment / room.

      You can check these two options:
      For Sublet – http://seoul.craigslist.co.kr/sub/
      You can also post your requirement here – http://seoul.craigslist.co.kr/sbw/

      Very difficult to say that you will get an apartment in Yeongdeongpo. But you can stay near Sinchon (not Sincheon) or Hongik University area and you will have to commute for only 10 minutes by subway to work. Sinchon or Hongik University is the college-university area so it will be easier for your to find accommodation out there. Also, that area is very lively on weekends.

      Cost of living per head should be around – 600,000 KRW to 1,000,000 KRW ($600 – $1000) per month for food, rent, maintenance and travel. Your cost of living would depend on your lifestyle (spending habits) and what facilities are provided to you by your employer.

      Reply
      • Lusi

        Do we have to choose just Hongik University? Is there any other places we can choose?

        Reply
        • TheKoreaGuide

          You can stay at any place close to Yeongdeungpo. But in an area like Sinchon or Hongik it would be easier for you to find accommodation as it is a university area.

          Here are the places where you can stay
          Hongik University (Hongdae) – Hongdae being the closest by subway.
          Sinchon, Yonsei, Ehwa Dae (Ehwa womens college), Hapjeong, Dangsan, Yangpyeong, Omokgyo, Mullae, Singil, Yeouido, Daebang, Mokdong, Guro

          Other option would be to stay in Itaewon / Noksapyeong (Haebangchon) area (which would be around 30 minutes away from your workplace) but Itaewon / Haebangchon is more of a foreign community. So language would not be a problem as most of the shop keepers speak English.

          Reply
          • Lusi

            I already got the info that the office is in Yeouido-dong, Yeongdeongpo-gu. When I see the subway map, I got confuse that there are Yeongdeongpo and also Yeouido station. Where is my office?

            And I and my friends already choose a goshiwon we like which there is in this site too (and the goshiwon we like, is in Hongik University area). But the problem is, the subway line is different if my office is in Yeouido station , not Yeongdeongpo station. If we have to use twice subway in a time, can we just transfer subway and just pay for once or we have to pay twice too?

        • TheKoreaGuide

          The very first thing you need to do once you land up in Seoul is to buy T-Money card. You can buy that card for 3000 KRW and you need to charge it by say another 10,000 KRW.

          You will be using this card to commute on Seoul Subway. So for example you would swipe the card once, to enter the subway station at Hongik and then swipe out when you exit Yeouido. Your ticket fare would be deducted when you enter the subway at Hongik and that’s all you will have to pay.

          While taking transfer you do not have to swipe again. So no deductions for transfers. Also, if your travel distance exceeds the minimum fare (around 1000 KRW) then the difference will be deducted when you swipe out of your destination.

          I would suggest you speak to your HR guy once and ask him to provide with the location map for your office along with the nearest subway station.

          Reply
  • bhala

    Hi,

    How about the living costs in Incheon Free Economic Zone as a student?
    How much can a software professional expect as salary per month in South Korea?

    Thanks in advance

    Reply
  • Kamal

    Hi,

    I would like to appreciate the this forum owner/Editors who are providing such a nice information and replying folks question. I am basically from Western part of the India and I am vegetarian.

    I am planning to move in Geoje town. I have following question before i Move from the Singapore to Geoje, Island, Korea.

    1. Do we get the Indian Vegetarian Products for Food ?
    2. How about the International Schooling ?
    3. What could be the cost of living in Geoje Island. My company will provide me the Accommodation.
    4. How about the Atmosphere for the kids

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      Vegetarian Food – There are lot of Indian restaurants in Seoul and Busan. And a few vegan restaurants too. Indian or Nepali restaurants normally serve vegetarian food. You can read this post Can Vegetarians Survive in South Korea to get your queries answered. Geoje is close to Busan.

      There are many a western bars and cafe in the Okpo Bar district in Geoje as it is dominated by lot of foreigners staying in Geoje. Okpo has Delhi Indian Restaurant.

      From what I understand only main cities like Seoul, Busan, Daegu and Daejon has Indian or Pakistani Grocery stores. So Indians living outside normally order their grocery online.
      Check this website – Indian Shop in Korea

      For international school and other related queries check this post.
      http://www.gfra.net/moving_here_

      Reply
  • RISHABH

    annyeong!!
    i’m rishabh from India “I have decided that next month I’ll visit korea for a trip with my mom and looking forward to seeing SUPER JUNIOR at the concert next month!
    also we r e are looking for a cheap hotel for us (7 days). so how much money will required(in rupees).

    Reply
  • Nair

    Nice to read your Pages. Congrats and keep it up.
    Abhi uther aake milenge……..

    Reply
  • Nehal

    Hi,

    I lived in Seoul for period 2011-2012, I can say this is must go place in the world..!! Have awesome memories and still collecting many more.. :)

    Would love to settle here itself ..!!

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      True Nehal, Seoul is definitely the best places to live in. Its a place you would fall in love with.. Rich culture, beautiful people, technologically advanced, trendy in fashion and so much more..

      Reply
      • angela

        I’m planning to go to korea as well and tried to search the net about the country. There was a video on youtube where a korean girl describes how it’s like to live in korea. She said that koreans are rude to other foreigners esp. Japanese and Filipino people. Is it true?

        Reply
        • TheKoreaGuide

          With Japanese people they have a history. So may be some old people may have grudge against Japanese people. But otherwise a lot of Japanese tourist do come to Korea, so much so that most of the public transport will have instructions in 4 language – Korean English, Japanese and Mandarin. In general people are good but there could be one off case of Koreans being rude, which cannot be generalized to the entire population.

          Reply
  • Alessandra

    Hello^^
    I’ll go to Korea this August to take a 3 week korean language program at the Sungkyun Language Institute…But I need a help to find a place to stay (goshiwon or hasukjib) can you give me some advices?? Thank you very much:)))

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      You can check this website – Goshi Pages to help you search Goshiwon..
      Other option would be to search for room-sharing or sublet accommodation on Craigslist
      Hope this helps.

      Reply
    • rich

      When I came as an exchange student I asked the school for help finding a hasukjib (하숙집) but they refused saying there were too many and kept changing who had spots open and who didn’t. Depending on the school and the area there could be a few to tons (like north-east side of Yonsei). Also some might just have 1 room for rent while others truly are a business with the whole building being rooms for rent.If you really want a hasukjib I would recommend getting a motel/hotel for a few nights and then check out the area near the school. Other than inquiring directly to each hasukjib I’m unsure how to do reservations or get current info on what exists/is closed.Did you try asking the school directly as well? I doubt they would help but worth a shot :)

      Also the list at the bottom of this page:
      http://kli.ybmedu.com/hakwon/kli/faq_eng.asp
      has a list of guesthouses and homestays.

      And also check this site:
      http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/AC/AC_EN_4_9.jsp
      It’s the government tourism website.
      On the left side you can select inns, motels, hotels, guesthouses, etc. I’ve used this list many times when I needed to stay at guesthouses.

      Best of luck :)

      Reply
  • Jimmy

    Hi there Greetings I will appreciate for Information on lower tuition fees University for learning Korean language for an year or 6 months anywhere in Southkorea But I prefer busan or seoul If Its in my budget I wanna learn korean I just love the language So I am expecting to move some area with low cost of living and expenses also the Uni fee to be the lowest In Korea,Certainly i will be thankful if you advise me on roomshare what will be the lowest price I can get

    Best wishes

    Reply
    • rich

      Hello Jimmy,

      Well a lot of well known universities have great scholarships for their normal (undergrad, graduate) schools, but I don’t know of any universities that offer scholarships for language study specifically. The reason being usually these schools want their name on your resume so getting a degree from one will show up on a CV but attending a language school won’t. Tuition for great schools and lesser known seem to be about the same so I’d pick a program based on speed of courses, textbooks, and location over the price of the tuition.

      I know the following universites in Seoul have Korean programs but there should be a fair number more:
      Korea Univ – touted as “simple to learn”
      Seoul Univ – most often used textbooks in other language schools
      Yonsei Univ – oldest program, grammar focused, really fast paced
      Ewha Univ – girl’s school but boy language students are allowed
      Hongik Univ – unsure details but popular location in Seoul
      Hanyang Univ – okay program
      Hansung Univ – really small university

      One downside with university programs are students in Level 1 are more casual and don’t try very hard. Once you pass Level 1 the exchange students have gone home and the remaining students are more determined.

      I’d also check out YBM/Sisa’s Korean classes as a friend enjoyed those. There are some other Korean institutes but can be difficult to find.

      Seoul vs Busan:
      -There is a different accent/dialect in Busan and the accent/dialect used in Seoul is the “universal” one.
      -Seoul has a lot more schools (university and language schools) for you to choose from.
      -But going where there aren’t as many people from your home country (aka are you the only one who can speak English) will help you as you are ‘forced’ to speak Korean more. It’s harder but you’ll learn faster.
      -Busan should be cheaper than Seoul as everyone wants to go to Seoul and so price of land (housing) is very high compared to other cities.

      If you are willing to work as a teacher at the same time some schools offer scholarships to their language programs. These usually only apply to companies like YBM/Sisa, Yonsei University and Korea University who own both Korean language schools and English language schools.

      As I mentioned in a different post these are some ways to find housing (rent a room, guesthouse, homestay, etc)
      http://kli.ybmedu.com/hakwon/kli/faq_eng.asp
      http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/AC/AC_EN_4_9.jsp
      Different areas will cost different amounts, also time of the year is a factor (like right before a semester starts in a university area will be hard to find housing).

      Sometimes families are willing to give free room and board if the person can help their children learn English; but these are harder to find and usually involve you knowning the right person at the right time.

      Best of luck!

      Reply
    • rich

      And I forgot to mention Sogang University. It’s located near Yonsei, Ewha, and Hangik Universities and their program is focused on speaking and listening. It’s not as well known as Yonsei’s program but is better if your goal is talking with people.

      Reply
      • TheKoreaGuide

        Some time back, I too was looking for universities which teach Korean Language and that’s when I had come across this discussion on Dave’s ESL Cafe where people where discussing Sogang vs Yonsei.. Mostly people were talking in favor of Sogang, with its focus on speaking and it being very intensive as compared to Yonsei where the focus was more on grammar. Even the textbooks are good. I faintly remember when I was learning Korean in Onnuri Guehe (Onnuri Church at Seobbingo) we were using Sogang University textbooks in the class.

        Then there is SKK – Sungkyunkwan University too where they teach Korean. SKK is the oldest university in Korea from the Joseon era. And it has partnership with Samsung, which has generously funded several core initiatives at SKK.

        Reply
  • binyam girma

    I have got an offer for Combined (masters & PHD) from Dongguk University,they will give $300 monthly allowance i have no aditional source to commence my studies is that enough for me to stay in Seoul? Can i get part time works there in Seoul?
    Binyam Girma (from Ethiopia)

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      Dear Binyam,

      If the university is providing you with accommodation then 300,000KRW should be sufficient (for food and maintenace) or if you are expected to pay towards your own accommodation then 500,000-700,000 KRW is what you would need minimum to survive in Korea. You can stay in a hasukjib where they can provide you with a one time meal and you would not be required to pay towards maintenance.

      It will be very difficult to say that you will be allowed to work on a part-time basis. But yes lot of people work parttime in Korea and these jobs are not that easily available. So you will have to develop some network / contact.

      I would advise that come to Korea and try do develop a network here. Initial few months you will have to struggle but life will be good once you stay here for a few months and develop your network and meet people from various other communities as well as architects in Korea.

      Think of it this way, that you are getting an opportunity to meet architects in Korea and show your work / talent to them. So something should work out if they like your work.

      Reply
  • Anonymous

    I’m currently working in Singapore and I’m thinking of relocating for one year. I m 28 and earn Usd 3800 per month and I like going drinks and party often. Would this amount be enough to lead a comfortable life ?

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      More than enough. Seoul works out cheaper and drinking is a culture in Seoul. Seoul has the best nightlife specially in areas like Hongdae, Itaewon, Gangnam. There are many a drinking and partying friendship clubs on facebook that can help you get grooving the day you land in Korea. Dont miss it for anything..

      Reply
  • RAVI

    Hello,
    I am around 50 year and presently I am working in Gulf country . I have experience in Procurement,Stores,Logistics,IT ERP and other Admin job. I would like to work in Korea . Can you please help me in getting a job temporary or permanent. I am ready to relocate with or without family.What is the scope to get a job . I am looking for a change immediately.

    Reply
  • Hafiz

    Hello,
    I’m 19 this year and previously i was a personal trainer in Fitness First gym. I’m from Malaysia. I’m curious whether is there any vacancy for a personal trainer like me? I’m planning to move to South Korea next year…i hope i can find a job in korea now before i move to korea…thanks

    Reply
  • Roza S

    Hello I have a question. I live in the U.S & am planning on going to Seoul in 2013 for 3 months in the summer with my 14 year old son & 6 year old daughter.. Could you tell me where would be a budget friendly place for us to stay along with how much money would be a good amount to survive? Am also looking into maybe relocating to Seoul if this visit goes well & we learn to adjust.. I am Cambodian&Thai, children are Cambodian Thai & White.. how do you think the surroundings will treat us as foreigners? I ask this because honestly we have never traveled outside the U.S before, even though we are Asian. I thank you ahead of time since I am asking so many questions

    Reply
    • rich

      Hello Roza,

      First off the main tourism website (www.tour2korea.com) has a page on accommodations that I like to reference: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/1031_Accommodations.jsp

      And the Housing section on Craigslist (http://seoul.craigslist.co.kr/) is pretty active including subsections with “temporary” and “vacation rentals”.

      These are both in English and they should give you a good idea of what is available.

      How much money to survive depends on what you want to do and how thrifty you want to be with some great examples at the top of this page.

      How you are treated might depend on where you live. Women of Southeast Asian decent in the countryside are usually foreign brides marrying farmers while those in Busan or Incheon are usually factory workers. You would do the best in Seoul as there is a very large foreign population in the center of the city at Yongsan and Itaewon near the Yongsan Army Base.

      I’ve talked with some expats with children and they either exclusively go to an international school (expensive) where most of the students aren’t from Korea, or they go to pubic schools but outside of the Itaewon area will probably be the only non-Koreans at the school.

      I’m sorry I can’t answer that last one more but your idea to check it out short term is a very good idea. 1~2 weeks people are still in vacation mode so 3 months is much better to see if you want to come and stay longer term. Best of luck!

      Reply
  • Seenivasan

    Hi,

    I got job in seoul and planning to move with my wife and 1.5yrs kid by January 2013.
    My company is providing me apartment but maintenance have to bear by me.
    Also i am planning to put my kid in English kindergarten. Could you let me know the expense for me per month???

    thanks in advance
    Seenivasan

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      Dear Seenivasan, since the company is providing you with accommodation your expenses should be low but sending your kid to an english kindergarten should be anywhere around $500 – $600. So you can expect your living expenses to be around $1500 per month to be on a safer side.

      Reply
      • rich

        The only price I heard is from PSA (Pre-School Academy) from the educational chain YBM. For 9 am to 2:30 am tuition is about $1,200 per month with optional after school classes around $130 a month. There are two teachers per class for the full time program consisting of one expat, one bilingual Korea, and one Korean assistant. Lunch, snack, pick-up and drop-off are included in that (standard) but textbooks are not. You can also look into Pagoda and in the Gangnam area (south-east of the river in Seoul) will have more schools to choose from. It’s not uncommon for kids to live 30~45 minutes away from their preschool.

        They have a lot of competition from other preschools so my guess is others are around that price but not positive.

        As the owner of this site said if your accommodations are taken care of then that is a huge burden off of you as that’s a big chunk of people’s salary.

        Reply
        • TheKoreaGuide

          Thanks for the update rich.. If the tuition comes to around $1200 per kid then that inflates the cost of living per month by almost 100%. I wonder if any of these schools have websites where they publish the fees on a regular basis.

          Reply
          • rich

            I just checked a few of the YBM sites including their preschool site (http://www.ybmpsa.com) and didn’t find any prices. I do remember seeing printed papers with prices at the front desk, so it’s not a secret. Maybe they want you to get invested in how great the program is before you see the price tag? :)

            If I were serious about enrollment I would find phone numbers and make some calls. Considering these are English preschools they should be able to connect you to someone who speaks English, even if that’s not the ladies working from the front desk.

          • TheKoreaGuide

            Well I do agree with you on that, getting people invested in how great the program is before seeing the price tag. But my only worry if the prices are disclosed on the websites or even if there is some external website which gives an idea about average tuition fees for kids in Seoul then it would definitely help expats while accepting a job offer and negotiating better.

  • safaa

    hello,
    we’re planning(my fiancé and i) to visit seoul fro 10 days during christmas,excatly from (december 23th to jan 2nd) and we want to have an idea about the cost of life,we’re looking for nice hostel,not expensive but in a safe area,we’ll be eating outside and want to visit places there,do some shopping(not much),go to lotte world and maybe a quick trip to busan for a day .
    we’ll be sharing everything,so we’ll be beringing like 1600$ each (about 3200$ total) not counting plane tickets of course.
    will it be enough for food(want to eat local food),visits….?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      $3200 should be enough to live conveniently in Korea for 10 days. Stay in a metropolitan area like myeongdong which is centrally located. Myeongdong is the hub of Seoul with a lot of tourist attractions near by. If you stay in other areas like gangnam, itaewon, sinchon, yongdongpo then u ll have to travel a bit to the tourist locations.

      Reply
      • TheKoreaGuide

        IMHO visiting Busan during winters does not make sense. People prefer visiting busan during summer for the beaches. If you like the snow then go hiking or go skiing at YongPyeong resort.. or visit the new Yeosu Expo 2012..

        Reply
  • Surabhi Maggon

    My husband got a job offer in Seoul,Korea. We are planning to move by January 2013.
    I am not sure if I would immediately get a job in Korea. So I want to work out the expenses per month before we move. Could you suggest the total cost if our requirements are

    1) 2 Bedroom apartment
    2) Internet facility
    3) Electricity and water bills
    4) Outings on weekend
    5) Eating outside 3 times a week
    6) Movie once a week

    Can we both manage in 2500- 3000 dollars per month?

    Is it possible for me to find a job in Seoul. I am working as a senior software engineer here in India. I have 4 years industry experience.

    Are there are work laws for dependents of visa holders?

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      Dear Surabhi,

      $2500 should be enough to survive in Korea with the lifestyle you mentioned above. A 2-bedroom apartment would be around $1000 – $1200 in Seoul (on the lower side). Your cost of living towards internet, electricity, gas, food (if u cook at home), water, mobile, etc should be around $500. So accordingly if you socialize a lot (eating out, movies, dinner, outings etc.) $2500 should suffice. But the only problem is that there will be hardly any amount left for savings.

      Indian Software Engineers have a good demand in Korea. Visit the post on our website for applying jobs in Korea and send you resume to a few consultants. Also please get in touch with a few Indians through the Indians in Korea group on Facebook. Networking for jobs would greatly help.

      Reply
      • Surabhi

        Thanks alot for the information. We are not looking for saving options in this 2500 $.
        My husband would be getting this as living allowance in Korea in addition to his Indian salary. We have heard that Seoul is a very expensive place, so wanted to be sure we would be able to survive in this allowance. Your help is very much appreciated.

        Reply
  • Vanathi

    Hi,

    I have more than 12 years of IT experience from Europe & India!! Currently, i am looking for an offer from a korean company!! What would be good salary ?
    I am married ! With two kids of 5+ years !! Currently i am working as a lead architect & i am postgraduate, Master of engineering in Computer science.!!!

    your feedback would help me lot !!

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      The average salary is around 2500 USD per month and around 30-35,000 USD annually including airfare, medical, taxes, insurance, severance pay etc. With your kind of experience and exposure you should get a higher salary. A few things that can work in your favor

      1. Masters degree (your degree puts you on a different salary slab)
      2. Overall Experience – in your case 12 years
      3. International Exposure – Europe

      So the (unspoken) practice is that whatever is your Indian Salary you can get double of that in Korea. So lets say if you Indian Salary is INR 12 lacs p.a then you can get INR 24 lacs (converted in USD or KRW) as your annual pay. But that’s not the rule.. So negotiate better if you get a chance..

      Plus you can also ask for accommodation. Where the company provides you with the accommodation and the monthly rent is not deducted from your pay.. as in it is not a part of your CTC. Some companies also provide one time food and travel expenses.

      Hope this helps.

      Reply
  • Bikram Boro

    Hi,I’m planning to study Visual Effect (Degree or non-degree) at Seoul,can you please suggest me the best Visual Effect institute in Seoul.

    Reply
    • rich

      Hello, if you have a BA (or possibly not) then studying at a 학원 (“hagwok” aka cram school or specialty non-degree school) is good. There are many places around Hongdae (Hongik University) and possibly Edae (Ewha University).

      For degree programs check out Hongik University as they are known for their art programs as well as Kookmin University and Seoul National University of Technology (not Seoul University). Also check to see what level your Korean would need to be in order to study at one of these schools or if they have a program taught in English.

      Best of luck.

      Reply
  • EJ

    Hi, my friend and I are planning to relocate to Seoul to work AND study. We are both from the Philippines, are both degree holders and have 1 year experience in teaching ESL. As mentioned, there are 2 things we would like to do:
    1. Work as English teachers in a school, and
    2. Study for our Master’s degree in health in a specific university in SK (Sahmyook University) while working to pay for our school expenses.

    Here are our concerns: (We got lots of questions, I hope you won’t mind. :) )
    - Which type of visa should we get, working or student? I learned we can’t work with student visa and may be put to jail if found out.
    - Will it be very hard for us to find teaching jobs in SK, especially because we are non-native English speakers?
    - How much salary should we expect as English teachers?
    - How much would our cost of living be according to standard living conditions? (1-bedroom apartment, internet connection, maintenance, transportation, food (vegetarian – will cook our own food), no health insurance, no partying, outing on weekends)
    - In Sahmyook University’s website, I read that as international students one of the requirements is a certificate of Korean proficiency test (level 3 or higher). What does it mean? What preparations should we do to pass the test?

    Your response will be highly anticipated. Thank you so much for making this wonderful site informative and engaging. May the good Lord richly bless you. :):):)

    Reply
    • rich

      Hello, well a student visa is a D-2 visa and a language teaching visa is an E-2 visa.

      These laws are frequently changing so my advice is to ask their international student division for specific current information. But as of last year while on a D-2 visa you can’t work the first semester. But during vacations with the proper paperwork, you can legally work part-time and after your first semester you can work part-time during the semester as well. They want to make sure you are coming to Korean to study on a student visa and you can pass your classes. Another option is you attach a work visa (E-2) after you get your student visa. You might need to do some paperwork with your school, something like “yes he/she is a full-time student, getting good grades, and has the ability to work full-time.”

      Honestly most language employers want people with/can get an E-2 or has one of the F visas but those are for people with Korean ancestry or married to a Korean national. No one returned my messages when I said I was on a D-2 but had permission to work.

      An E-2 is officially “Foreign language instructor” and you need to be a native speaker of the language you are teaching and have gotten your BA via that language. So a Canadian who is a native English speaker but got a science degree all in French can’t teach English. E-2 English teachers need to be from Canada, U.S., Australia, New Zealand, U.K., Ireland, or South Africa. And that isn’t a job provider preference it’s connected with Immigration’s rules.

      Most international students teach under the table. The ones that get caught are ones teaching in a formal school/cram school but those doing private tutoring almost never get in trouble. Salary depends on your credentials and what you can get away with. The lighter skinned you are the easier it is to get a job teaching English due to old stereotypes with the parents paying tuition. And I would say you are from the US as that is what the parents want to hear. It shouldn’t be hard to get 20,000 won an hour but others get 50,000 won an hour. Go higher if you can as private tutoring is usually only an hour at a time. Spend some time under the jobs section here: http://seoul.craigslist.co.kr and here http://www.eslcafe.com and some of these postings will lead to other sites as well. Most of the jobs are full-time formal positions but some are for private tutoring.

      Cost of living; depending on the school dorms are usually available to international students. Right off campus are flyers on telephone/power poles advertising single rooms but these are all in Korean. You could spend 400,000 a month but I am approximating. Transportation via bus/subway is 1,150 won per trip with more complete information here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seoul_Metropolitan_Subway#Ticket

      For Korean language exams there aren’t that many. They might be referring to TOPIK or KLPT. Ask the school which exam they want. I think level 3 would be intermediate but you’d need to search that specific test.

      Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with and best of luck :)

      Reply
  • rebeccashawol

    Hi…
    M currently 15 yrs old and i am planning to study in korea in performing arts school…well since m still young i just cant live alone in a foreign contry in an apartment i have to be with a family member….btw m currently in my 9 th grade..!!!
    I just want to ask whether it is alright to stay alone ???…i mean like are the people out there bad to a foreign teenager…???
    I have these things going round my head…well umm…can you please suggest me some good performing arts high school for teengers like me…
    Oh..i forgot to mention.. My names Rebecca…i am a chinese indian….!!!
    Ty..^^

    Reply
    • Shafaq

      Thaaank youuuu very much
      :D :O

      Reply
    • Rich

      Hello Rebecca,

      I’m afraid my wife and I don’t know which high schools have good performing arts programs but I would look around Apgujong and Gangnam areas. My guess is your Korean abilities would need to be that of a high schooler so if they aren’t look into the international high schools that exist. A Google search would be good for that.

      You have a good concern. There are bad people in any city and the bigger the city the higher your chances are of coming across bad individuals. A general cultural rule in this country is people never go out alone; it’s boring. But for high school students there is safety in numbers as well. The city is trying to be more careful to women with things like “safety zones” in certain subway stations. Basic precautions like going out with friends when late, staying on bigger streets and not smaller alleys, and living with a family member or with a Korean family will protect you well. And some Korean families like to house international students many of whom do it to prepare their own kids to go abroad.

      Best of luck :)

      Reply
  • Shafaq

    Heeyy
    My name is shafaq im 14 years old and im a korea freak :P
    soo im planing to go with my MoM and my bigger sister and my 1 and a half years old sister on easter vacations *from 25 march /6th april* to Seoul I live in germany *Berlin*
    so i want to ask
    1. what could be the price for a hotel in seoul for 4 peoples
    2) Outings *what are the best places to visit there how much are the costs u know taking the bus ticket and ticket entry for the places etc*
    5) Eating outsides *Vegatarien and it would be nice if you could tell me some restaurants*
    6) Cinemas * I know thats an insane question but are there any Cinemas with eng subs :P*

    Reply
  • Rc_Bdo

    I’m making around $3000 a month with my wife, while I live in Indonesia I dont think with $3000 is barely enough for a married couple to have an extra savings a month. I wonder If its easy to earn $3000 in South Korea to work as professional without any korean language skills.

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      If you have kids who go to school then $3000 will definitely not be enough. But then I know couples (with no kids) who live a decent yet luxurious life for slightly under $2000. So it all depends on your lifestyle.

      Professionals without any Korean Language skills do earn more than $3000 but then that depends upon their professional skill and experience which is lot in demand. It also depends on your education level. So people with Masters and PhD have a higher chance of making income above $3000. That are lot of factors that determine your salary – the industry you are working in, your education level, your experience, your professional certification if any, the demand for that skill-set in Korea, your current salary, your global exposure etc.

      Reply
      • Rc_Bdo

        I have Master Degree and some professional degree. I work at Banking Sector.

        Degree does not make a base for salary standard in Indonesia.
        How much does Bankers make in Korea a month?

        I’m really interested to find an opportunity to migrate there if possible.
        Thank You for the Information,

        Reply
        • TheKoreaGuide

          I am really not aware of the salaries for banking sector in Korea. But I did a search on glassdoor.com and the salaries are definitely above $3000 per month.

          For taking your question forward I would recommend that you register your resume on:
          Contact Korea – http://www.contactkorea.go.kr/en/index.do

          Also, register yourself on
          http://www.koreabusinesscentral.com/ (Korea Business Central is a community of expat professionals working in Korea, you can post your query there for getting more relevant information on your query).

          Reply
  • Sonu

    I am Sonu from India. I am coming to Seoul in January 2013 with my wife for one year period, so I just want to know that how much is the cost of living for couple in Seoul (Including accommodation, food & transportation)….tell me the approx. average, so i will prepare accordingly before coming to Seoul.

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      Sonu, I assume that you have read the post above, coz I have already answered your question there.. But if you would want to know how much you need to carry so that you can survive your first month in Seoul till the time you get your first pay check then let me tell you that you would need approx $2000 to survive the first month in Korea. The expenses for the first month would be slightly higher as you are relocating to a new place.. second month onward you can bring down your monthly expense to around $1200 (including rent, maintenance and travel).. You would need additional $2000 – $3000 towards deposit if you are looking for accommodation on rent.. So safer to carry $5000.

      I sincerely request you to read my post above and the comments atleast three times. You’ll find all your answers out there..

      Reply
  • sujita

    Hello,

    I am trying to apply to Gimcheon university as an undergraduate student..Can i get to work there? Isit really far from seoul? I heard that people are rude and won’t give part-time jobs.Is that true?

    Reply
    • rich

      It’s far from Seoul by Korean standards. There is a KTX (bullet train) station that will take about 90 minutes to Seoul and about 30 minutes to Busan (opposite sides of the country), so Gimcheon is much closer to Busan.

      You can get a part-time job but not during the first semester as Immigration wants you to focus on your studies. I found it basically impossible to find a legal job while on a student-visa though, not because people are rude but because they want people full-time and the hassle of Immigration paperwork for a part-time worker isn’t worth it for most employers. The exception would be if you have an F-class visa (Korean blood or married to a Korean) in which, depending on which F visa you have, it would be much easier to work.

      Reply
  • Veronica

    Hi my name is Veronica. Im from the U.S im planning to vist Korea with my sibling and two cousins in about a year. We are planning to go for 4 weeks. But im not sure where we could stay because a hotel cost to much for a month. Where would it be and nice, safe, not so expensive place to stay at for a month? We are planning visit Busan and Jeju Island while we are their but we want to stay mainly in Seoul. We are planning on taking $1000 each all together about $4000. Would that be enough for a month for us to spend a visit places. What do you recommend we dont speak korean do you recomend to learn the basics before going.

    Reply
  • akshay

    Hello,

    I have received a offer to work in Seoul, Korea at a senior management level for a contract of 2 years. can you let me know, how much salary hike should i expect when shifting from India. Further i will be working in niche technical area and doing business development and travelling. My total experience is 15 years in automotive technical field. Should i ask for any special allowances for travel?

    Can you please help in this regards.

    thanks

    Akshay

    Reply
  • marwa

    hi. first of all i thank for such a good website i appreciate what uu do … well im 16 years old (11 grade ) according to what i read i found that s.korea is one of the best countries when it comes to universities so i decided to look up for some scholarships for international students and what to do to get it ( i want to do medicine) . really need ur help and thank you

    Reply
    • rich

      Scholarships exist but take some searching as they seem to change yearly; who is offering and how much they are offering. I would recommend checking SKY (Seoul, Korea, Yonsei University) as those are the main three and I know at least Korea and Yonsei are giving scholarships to international students these days. Also look into the large companies of Korea like LG and Samsung as they tend to offer scholarships for potential future employees. Sometimes the Korean government offers scholarships but you’d have to check and see what is available. Also check the pharmaceutical companies as they might have some.

      Reply
  • Anamika Gupta

    I am an Indian thinking of relocating to korea. I have some stocks in US-markets. I have bank deposits in India. So while working in korea, I will need to fill details of 3 countries in the tax form: Korea, India and US.
    Has anybody lived with this complexity of taxation in korea? Is it easily handleable? Are there any expert suggestion/tips?

    Reply
  • sabita

    hi,
    I found your information very helpful,my husband got a job offer in one of the leading companies in korea with a pay 11000$.Is it sufficient for a small family and i also need some information about schools in seoul with indian circulam.At present i am working in qatar for an embassy,i did masters in business administration specialisation in human resources.Can i get any job in seoul if so wat will be the salary according to your search.

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      Hi Sabita,
      For a family of four (husband, wife and two school going kids) the cost of living in Korea is around $4000 – $5000 per month. For a family with a new born kid (husband, wife and a new born kid) the cost of living would be around $2500 per month. And for a family with no kids (husband and wife) the cost of living would be anywhere between $1500 – $2500 (keeping in mind their lifestyle). Additional expense in your case would be towards learning the Korean language.

      For a school in Seoul with Indian curriculum there is Angels Indian Institute. Otherwise for International Schools you can read our post on International Schools in Korea.

      Getting a job in Korea (that too in HR) without the knowledge of Korean would be very difficult (but not impossible). Koreans very rarely speak English. So it is very essential that your know Korean if you need to apply for an HR related job. Let’s say the very basic task of shortlisting resumes in itself would require you to have good Korean language skills as all the resumes would be in Korean Language. Also your job would require you to communicate a lot with the locals. The chances of you finding a better job would be high in a multinational company where you would be required to communicate in English. But even if you find a job do not expect the salary to be very high. It would be anywhere around $1500 – $1800 (the reason being that you would be on a dependent visa and secondly they need to have a very strong reason to hire you in place of an equally capable local candidate).

      My advice would be that you take the first few months to learn the Korean language full time in one of the top Korean Universities like SNU, Yonsei, Korea University, SKK, Ehwa or Sogang. You would be required to attend on weekdays for around 4 hours. This will not only help you in learning Korean but also in building your network in Korea and increase your chances of finding a job. Please do not expect a job immediately, the day you land in Korea. Give yourself some time (around 4-5 months). And use that time effectively to learn Korean and immerse yourself in the Korean culture. Korea is a very beautiful country, so you will have very good time in Korea. Please read this post on views on moving to Korea with wife and kids.

      I know a lot of housewives who sit at home, either because they find Korea very expensive (which is a fact) or because they are very shy of exploring new cultures and making new friends. So I recommend you to please take out time to explore this new country, make new friends, learn about its culture, network and at the same time look for jobs. There are various communities in Korea to keep you engage and one of them is Seoul International Women’s Associations. Getting engaged and making friends with the locals would definitely increase your chances of finding a job in Korea.

      Also, as you would be aware the working culture in Korea is aggressive. People work almost 12 hours a day and then there are after-hour office parties which your husband would find it really difficult to skip. So be prepared to spend your time with your husband only on weekends. Since your husband would hardly have any time on him to learn Korean or the nuances of Korean culture, you learning the language and culture would be a great help to him and you in the first few months in Korea.

      Reply
  • Sabita

    Hi Korea guide,
    Really thanking you deeply from my heart for such a brief explanation.Regarding schools according to your research which is the best international school for indian student who is going to grade 3 and also my hubby company has given him the accomdation at seoul suburbs.can you tell me how will be the place for the family?

    Reply
  • TheKoreaGuide

    Where exactly in Seoul? Whats the name of that place. Ideally anywhere you stay in Seoul is good as it is highly connected by subway. For more details I would encourage that your join the Indians in Korea group on facebook. It is an online active community of all the Indians staying in Korea. You can ask your question about the best international school out there. I am sure you will get a better response from the actual people who are sending their kids to school. But first please make sure where (which area in Seoul) will you be staying.

    Reply
  • hi! help me please!

    hi! help me please! what is cost-low bedroom in South Korea ? I want live be here >< help me please! annyeong!

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      Do you want to buy a house or rent a house. The cost of renting a studio or an apartment for a month could be anywhere between $300 to $3000 and above depending on where you stay.

      Reply
  • karan

    Hi, I wanted to ask that can a person get a job as a teacher even if he or she is not native English? Also, how much do brand name Clothes and shoes cost…specifically gucci, prada, polo etc. Can you tell me the price in Korean won .. Thnks alot

    Reply
    • rich

      The requirements are rather tight for being an English teacher. Immigration dictates the person would be a native speaker from the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa and have a BA in anything. Although I heard a Canadian citizen who went to a French speaking university had trouble as his BA was not taught in English.

      I heard those items cost more in Korea than the US but I’m not sure to what degree and different models will have different prices. I think the easiest way is to check some of these sites:
      http://www.ellotte.com
      http://www.ehyundai.com
      http://mall.shinsegae.com

      Reply
      • karan

        Thankyou soo much… I really appreciate it.. I’m planning to live in Korea, but I don’t know what job to get which has high pay.

        Reply
  • Rc_Bdo

    I’m doing more research on living in Korea, If its income I guess I could make something about it. But the culture would be the chalange. I dont know about the work life balance in korea. Is it true that they often work so late? Its not like that I mind about working late. But I have a very deep concern about leaving my wive at home all day long unless she got a similiar activites or job. Maybe I watch to many movies but seems a lot of people doing shady business in Korea, I dont want my wife to get involved just because shes trying to find some activities out side the house. Problem is I dont hink its easy to get both of us a job in our professional areas abroad. Not to mention the sentiment against foreigner which i havent look into it for further research. Do locals tends to get jealous or competitive with foreigner in their working environment?

    Reply
    • rich

      It’s good to do the research before you come. I’d do a search for “culture shock chart” as I’ve found some of those to be helpful with showing why emotions go up and down in a new culture.

      Work late – Yes and No. It depends on the company and the workload they currently have. One of the things I find true about Korea is everything is flexible. That includes what time you go home (outside of language teaching jobs). I would really recommend looking up some ‘Korean business culture books’ as some of those can give very deep information about some of the hows and whys of the local business culture.

      Foreigner Sentiment – If you ask 10 people you’ll get ten different answers. Some general tips:
      -live in Seoul. It’s got more non-Koreans and people will understand you the best in this city.
      -Learn to read the local alphabet and pick up a few terms. You’ll get a lot of respect as otherwise they will be speaking in a foreign language (English) the entire time talking to you. And actually they still will be if you only know a few words. But this is a big sign of respect as it shows you are trying to understand them as well.
      -When in Rome… Check out a business culture book or two and expect to do things the way your coworkers do. Expecting special treatment is never good for office relationships. I also recommend the book “Ugly Koreans, Ugly Americans”. It’s also reviewed on this site.

      Movies – I love watching movies and for years that was my only insight into the culture. But remember movies must cram a story that takes place over weeks or years into 90 minutes. So things are dramatized and blown out of proportion. The same thing happens with every country. So this means Koreans have told/asked me “but don’t all Americans have guns?” and “but in Friends they never worked and only hung out in coffee shops”.

      Reply
      • TheKoreaGuide

        Seriously Rich.. Even I used to wonder.. dont they work in friends.. I mean all the time I see them wearing designer clothes and hanging out in cafes.. and joey is almost always auditioning. but true.. these dramas and movies make us believe of a world that is so different from the real world.. it so much skews our perceptions.

        Reply
  • Debbie

    I really appreciate this guide to Korea. I will be reading more of your blog over the next few days to get as much information as possible.

    As I was reading the comments above I noticed one said you have to have a job offer before you can get a visa. My husband is applying for a job as a pastor, but I would not be getting a job. I may be attending university there. How would I get a visa?

    Thanks again for your blog!

    Debbie

    Reply
  • rich

    Hello,

    If you will be working than you need to have a work visa before you arrive. Trying to change a landing visa (also referred to as “visa less entry” or “visa exempt”) or vacation visa into anything else isn’t possible. So you will need to get a visa ahead of time.

    If you will be a undergrad or graduate student you will need a D-2 student visa. If you are taking a Korean language class, even full time, student visas are not offered or needed.

    If you will be in the country without a work or student visa I recommend the F-1 visa for “visiting or joining family” or D-6 “religious”. With the F-1 you can’t legally work but you can stay in the country and can study the local language if you want. I’m afraid I don’t know the limitations or requirements for the D-6 but…

    The following pages will have more information:
    -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_South_Korean_visas
    -Korea Immigration Service – http://www.immigration.go.kr
    -Hi Korea – http://www.g4f.go.kr
    -http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/GK/GK_EN_2_1_1.jsp

    Best of luck :)

    Reply
  • MC Mang

    Hello,

    I was offered to persue my Master research +work in SeoulTech.

    The offers are as follows:
    Tuition fees + Accomodation with 3x meals + insurance + $1,000usd

    Is it consider enough for a single person?
    How is study/research culture there?

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      Its a good offer for Master Research (with accommodation and 3x meals). $1000 should be good enough considering you will have very minimal expenses in Seoul.
      A lot of students come here for masters. research, phd as well as postdoc programs. But I would recommend that you get in touch with the student community in Korea to get the real picture.

      Reply
  • Nanu

    Hi,

    First of all, a huge thumbs up for the kind of information and answers being provided by you for each of the queries. Really appreciated.
    I have got an offer from a company in South Korea in Cheon-an. The monthly income is around USD3500. Is it sufficient for a couple leading a normal lifestyle? No high end partying, outside dinner 2 times a week, a little bit of travel in Korea.
    Accommodation, 50% insurance is provided by the employer. Also how is Cheon-an as a place to live? Your inputs are highly appreciated. Thanks!

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      It is a very good offer considering they are paying you for the accommodation as well. Cheonan is connected to Seoul via Subway Line, so that way Seoul is not really far (almost an hour or two via subway). People live a very decent life style in $2500 (where they have to take care of their own accommodation which can go upto $700 per month towards rental). Your expenses would be mostly towards food, maintenance, water, electricity, gas, internet, mobile, calling card facility, monthly grocery, travel, clothing, learning Korean, entertainment etc. which could be managed well below $1000 per month.

      Reply
      • Nanu

        Thanks for the answers. Also, what is the tax structure there? I read that it is either of 15% flat or 24% progressive (for my range).
        Korean language classes for both of us are being sponsored and I feel it should help if we want to really feel comfortable. Also how easy/ difficult is it for a dependent visa (my spouse) to get a job. She can apply for technology sector, will language be a barrier for the same?

        Reply
        • TheKoreaGuide

          I believe in technology sector jobs language is the least barrier because once the task is assigned, the developer is supposed to execute as per the instructions given. Hardly any communication required. Other jobs require a lot of communication. But normally in any company there is a manager or the reporting head who speaks good English and normally acts a mediator between the expat and the rest of the team, client etc.

          Your wife will not be allowed to work on a dependent visa, so it would be more like after she gets a job over there her visa would be converted to a working visa by the immigration.

          For tax structure please read – http://www.thekoreaguide.com/2012/02/25/average-salary-and-tax-structure-in-south-korea-for-expats/ (but best would be that you get in touch with your employer and ask them to provide a dummy salary slip to get an idea of your deductions and monthly take home per month).

          Reply
  • Nancy

    Hi.. I was so amazed with all your informations. Tumbs up..
    I’m going to register for a korean language class in Ehwa for the intensive program. But I’m still confusing to get a place to stay near by the campus. Like a small house as I preparing if my family want to come by to visit me. I’m wondering if it’s costly to rent a small house near Ehwa? And roughly how much it will be? Which website should I browse since I read abt some scam house rental by the website. Thank you in advance :)

    Reply
    • rich

      There are a lot of apartments and places that rent a room either like a dormitory or an extra room in their home. But I don’t know of many small homes that would be for rent. Usually before the new semester starts there are a bunch of ads on telephone poles for rooms for rent. You could come over, stay in a hostel for a week, and find one of these places to stay.

      As for websites in English the one I usually refer people to is from the Ministry of Tourism:
      http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/1031_Accommodations.jsp
      If your family will visit short term you could get them a hostel; 1 person room, 2 person room, or 6 person rooms. I know a new hostel opened up in that area last year.

      Ewha University is also near Sinchon and Hongdae all on Line 2 of the subway.

      Reply
  • Dev

    Hi,
    I have received an offer in Seoul which is around 120000 US $$ pa (135798000 KWN), Company provided accommodation ,National Health Insurance,etc

    I am currently in US & negotiating with them further on this.Can you tell me if its sufficient for family with 2 year old kid leading a normal lifestyle.

    Thx
    Dev

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      Dear Dev,

      Average salary in Korea is around 35-40 Million KRW and enough for a small family to survive. Your salary is nearly 4 times the average Korean salary so it is sufficient enough for you to live a normal lifestyle.

      Reply
  • Nanu

    Hi,

    How is the current situation in South Korea. I heard foreigners are being asked to go back to their native countries?
    Is it really getting bad?

    Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      Dear Nanu,

      For live updates from our Indian Friends please join –
      https://www.facebook.com/groups/IIK2002/

      You’ll get the latest from over there..

      Here is the message from Indian Embassy in Korea –

      Advisory on situation in South Korea
      A number of queries have been received from Indian nationals in South Korea and back home, about the situation in South Korea.
      2. The Embassy of India has been monitoring the developments closely and on a real-time basis. From all available indications, there is little likelihood of any imminent or active hostilities breaking out on the Korean peninsula.
      3. As of now everything is normal. Government offices, financial institutions, airlines, hospitality industry, businesses, schools and colleges, as well as, foreign missions are functioning smoothly, as usual.
      4. All personnel of the Embassy of India and their family members are in place in Seoul, leading a normal life and following their regular routine.
      5. All the same, should there be any adverse development; the Embassy will immediately alert the community via telephone and / or electronically. Contact particulars of key members of the Indian community, across the country, have already been updated by the Embassy. They are also advised to check the Embassy’s website regularly.
      6. The Embassy of India takes this opportunity of conveying its best wishes to all members of the Indian community

      Reply
  • Priscilla

    Hi, I’m Priscilla 20 y.o and I’ll go to Sungkyunkwan University for student exchange. I want to ask about cost of living in Suwon. Is it more expensive or is it cheaper than living in Seoul? How about the approximate cost of living in Suwon exclude accomodation (because I’m planning to live at the dorm) and include go travelling and exploring Korea. Thank you and btw this website is awesome! really appreciate it :)

    Reply
    • rich

      Hi Priscilla,

      The general rule is the further from inner Seoul the cheaper housing is. But that is the main difference of prices and you already know you will live in the dorms.

      For traveling outside of Seoul the prices for bus and trains are pretty cheap. Major train stations in Seoul are Yongsan Station (용산역) and Seoul Station (서울역). The KTX (bullet train) is the fastest and so the price is higher. If you want a cheaper ticket you can also buy a standing ticket.
      For more information check out:
      http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/TR/TR_EN_5_1_2.jsp
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_transport_in_South_Korea

      The major bus stations in Seoul are Express Bus Terminal (고속터미널) and Nambu Terminal (남부터미널). If you have a friend who can speak Korean they can help you order tickets or you can go to the location in person and buy them at the counter.

      Also from winter 2013 the Bundang Line will open at extension to Suwon Station, two stops south of where you will live. It will make traveling from Suwon to Bundang possible via subway.

      Have fun as an exchange student :)

      Reply
  • teraraw

    I have applied to study my PhD in Korea. Can I take my family to Korea? Is it possible under the Immigration law?

    Reply
    • rich

      I’ve only known a few people here on student visas that were married and their either had their spouse in their home country or their spouse had a work visa. I’m afraid I don’t really know and shouldn’t guess. But please check out these sites as they should have more information:

      -http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_South_Korean_visas
      -Korea Immigration Service – http://www.immigration.go.kr
      -Hi Korea – http://www.g4f.go.kr
      -http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/GK/GK_EN_2_1_1.jsp

      Reply
  • Anup

    Hello,

    What is an average salary for an engineer in seoul having 5 yreas of experience?

    Reply
  • Narayan

    Hello,

    I have browsed through most of the posts above & noted your responses as well. Very commendable.

    Likewise I have similar queries……….but just would like to know the latest monthly expenses data for a family of four 2 adults + 2 school going kids in Geoje. One kid is aged 5 & the other is aged 12.

    What would be the monthly expenses:
    Accommodation
    Schooling
    Utilities (winter & summer)
    Other Miscellaneous expenses

    I understand that the Okpo International school is only till grade 9. Where do kids go after grade 9?

    Thanking you in anticipation of your early response.

    Regards,

    Reply
  • Samke

    Hi, i would like to know how much would the expenses of my family be in a month? The family consists of me and my husband my 3year old son, and I like to know the study fees of my son per monthly for his school?

    Reply
  • dana

    Hello..
    First of all, i really like your blog.
    Secound, could help me please? i need to know howmuch does buying a building in seoul korea cost?
    because the information on the internet didnt help me much.
    thank you for your hard work.

    Reply
    • rich

      Hello Dana,

      I am afraid that depends on what kind of building, how old, and part of town it is in. And even then the closer to the subway the higher the price. For the most accurate information you would need to contact real estate agents directly.

      Rich

      Reply
  • Gaone

    Hi,
    I am currently a college student from Botswana, and I am planning on moving to Korea after I graduate, I need help figuring out what I need to enter the country, because I am willing to be an English teacher, but my degree deals with investments and insurance. I have been saving up for all the expenses.

    Gaone.

    Reply
    • rich

      Hello Gaone,

      To be an English teacher in South Korea you must be a native speaker from US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, or UK with a BA in any subject. If your citizenship is Botswana you will not be able to get the E-2 language teacher visa unless you have dual citizenship with one of those six countries mentioned.

      You could get a student visa if you want to do an MA at a university, a vacation visa (30 days+), or a working visa. They have also made a point system F-2 (resident) visa depending on age, salary, and a few other factors. Take a look at this list and see if you find something good:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_South_Korean_visas

      Best of luck~

      Reply
      • Gaone

        Thank you rich,

        English is my native language too in Botswana just like South Africa.

        Well will I be able to get the vacation visa while in the US right after graduation? And the F-2 sounds good too, but I wonder if I would qualify for it fresh out of a University. I looked into the list you gave me thank you once again!

        Reply
        • rich

          Hello Gaone,

          Unfortunately it has been a long time since I applied for a vacation visa so I am not familiar with the current regulations regarding that visa. I would recommend going to the official site: http://www.hikorea.go.kr/pt/index.html

          >And the F-2 sounds good too, but I wonder if I would qualify for it fresh out of a University.
          -In short, no, you won’t be able to get the F-2 visa right out of university if you are getting it via the point system.


          Under the Point System, *professionals lawfully residing in Korea for 1 year or over
          become eligible for the residence status (F-2) if they acquire certain points based on
          their qualifications. The criteria for assessing their qualifications include age, academic career, and income among others. (implemented from Feb. 1, 2010)

          The F-2 is a great visa and is also difficult for most people to get. The most common way is to marry a Korean. But since they invented the point system, it creates another avenue. Depending on who you talk to you’ll get conflicting information and the values have changed at least once in the past. So the best thing is for me to show you where the information can be found, and how to read the file as it is a special format.

          This is the official information.
          http://www.hikorea.go.kr/pt/NtcCotnDetailR_en.pt?bbsGbCd=BS10&bbsSeq=2&ntccttSeq=36&langCd=EN

          Download “Point System.hwp”

          But the file is a .HWP file and can only be read with a program that is sold here in Korea. So to read that file go to this site (online.thinkfree.com), make an account, upload the file, and you can read it.

          One note, “Korean Language Proficiency” is a test called TOPIK which grades Korean level abilities. There are 6 levels divided among beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The official score of that test is needed to get points in that area.

          Take care~

          Reply
  • Mahbub

    Dear all,

    I am from Bangladesh. I have got a scholarship in PNU, Korea for MS study. Professor agreed to give me 800000 KRW per month as stipend. I have to save about 300000 KRW per month as tuition fee. So I will have remain 500000. Will it be possible to run my livelihood including other all costs in Busan for a month if I want to live in an apartment by shearing some other students? I need to know this. Please help me. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • rich

      I have not looked at the prices in Busan but the basic key is housing and food are cheaper outside of Seoul and sharing with other students will help to cut down the price of housing. But Busan is also a major city so take that with a grain of salt.

      But 500,000 a month could easily be spent on only housing and food and many spend that much on ONLY food or ONLY housing. That does not include things like cell phone, transportation (hint: live walking distance to school), or misc expenses (books, movies, utilities, weekends, etc).

      It might be possible but would be very tight. Have some other money saved up before you come. Also ask the Professor if he/she could put you in contact with some other students in the program so you can ask them.

      Reply
  • rithu

    My husband is planning to join Samsung, chake-em suwon.
    his package is around 48k usd per annum.

    what would be the monthly expenses when i eat once in week outside, roaming once in a month near by tourist places.

    accommodation will be provided by organisation. He need to take care of maintenance part only.
    calling to India would be happening weekly thrice, either by Skype or calling call.

    we are three member, myself,husband n one yr kid.

    Reply
  • rithu

    One more thing, i heard that for,expats from this year flat tax structure would be applicable and,it is 17%. Is it right? If not, then please provide the correct income tax and other deductions which would be happening. I have read ur post about tax for expats but i think that needs to be updated according to current rate.

    also, i heard that job opportunities are shrinking. Will expats be impacted by this?

    Reply
  • saravana

    Hi I am saravana from india, i want to knew about the cost of living in Busan near the Pukyong National University, I am planing to join PhD in Department of Food Science and Technology, Pukyong National University in the coming… march month. My professor informed me that i would get scholarship around 600 to 700 USD for a month. so can any one kindly tell the cost of living near the university and also whether indian food items (food materials for cooking like masala items) will be available in these area. I have one more question if i get married during my studies whether i can bring my wife from india to south korea. If there is any indians living around the Busan area means pls give me your facebook id or skype id. so that i can get some information. Thanks in advance.

    Reply
    • rich

      Hello Saravana,

      For reference here is a list of visas that exist:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_South_Korean_visas

      I would recommend you look into the F-3 visa as that is for spouses and unmarried children under 20. It is applicable for holders of various visas, including the D-2 student visa. The official information is here:
      http://www.hikorea.go.kr/pt/InfoDetailR_en.pt?categoryId=2&parentId=382&catSeq=385&showMenuId=374&visaId=F3

      Under the F-3, I believe your wife would not be able to work legally, but it looks like she can enter and stay in the country legally. If she finds a job here she could change her visa. That usually mean a flight/boat overseas and a few days visiting a Korean consulate. From Busan there are several boats that depart daily to the city of Fukuoka in Japan (better waiting times than consulates in bigger cities, like Tokyo).

      Best of luck :)

      Reply
      • saravana

        Thanks for the information regarding the visa. But can you kindly tell about the cost of living in Busan near the Pukyong National University area for a month i want to knew whether my scholarship amount of 600 to 700 dollars is enough for a month.

        Reply
  • saravana

    ok thanks for the information.

    Reply
  • saravana

    thanks a lot for your kind information.

    Reply
  • jess

    i have a few questions….
    im only 15(9th grade) in U.S and i want to move to Seoul when i graduate from college. i want to work for sm entertainment as a translator for kpop celebrity bands. im self teaching myself in korean right now but i also want to major in Korean when i go to college. im chinese so i can speak chinese, and english fluently. im also going to learn spanish in high school. i just want to know how you could apply for a translation job. i want to travel with celebrity bands to many countries and translate for them. could it be anyone that can be a translator for kpop bands or do they need a connection with someone in the company? i really appriciate it!!

    Reply
    • rich

      Hello Jess,

      If you don’t want to teach English in a classroom or have an office job, being bilingual is a must.

      English teaching jobs and office jobs that only use English will advertise on English-language based websites. So I have seen some people advertising themselves as available, but not really jobs. The “real” jobs will advertise in Korean on Korean job searching websites. But many positions here are filled via relationships. “Oh I’ve got a friend that would do well in that position”. Networking is very very important.

      Yes, try and know some people who work for the company. And also volunteering in a translator position could open doors for you. “Well actually I do know someone that is a translator. He/she… translators our religious services…is a volunteer translator for tourists in Myeongdong/Itaewon…is an intern with SBS…is a telephone translator for taxis/tourists…helps with the exchange students at our university…works part-time in the English wing of X Hospital” All of these exist.

      There are some specific translator organizations that exist. For example The American Translators Association, The National Association of Judiciary Interpreters and Translators, and The International Medical Interpreters Association. Anything that is official, like a certificate from a group like that would beef up your resume. With that in mind I would also recommend taking language exams for the languages you want to use. For Korean you can use TOPIK, for English TOEFL, etc.

      Also be on the lookout for translator classes/majors/minors at universities. So maybe you will be a Korean major with a minor in translation. I also recommend studying abroad here in Korea. It’s easier to learn the language when you can use the language outside of the classroom.

      I hope to see you next to some famous group at a press conference in the future :)

      Reply
      • Jess

        Thank you so much for your reply!!! I really want to learn Korean and live there and meet celebrities…could you get into an university in Korea if you live in the u.s and if so how? Do u apply for it or would u need connection?

        Reply
        • rich

          Most people want to meet celebrities and I must admit it is difficult, as it is difficult to meet them in the US as well.

          >could you get into an university in Korea if you live in the u.s and if so how?
          -It depends on what you want to do. The three options are:

          1) Just study the language (any length of time)
          2) Exchange student (a semester+)
          3) International student (2 years+)

          1) This is the easiest. You apply directly to the language school you want to study at. Most universities in Seoul have their own programs. The most well known is out of Yonsei University (oldest, the US military sent their officers there, formal study, very fast pased) the most practical (conversation based, taught at a better speed if you don’t have a background growing up among Koreans, much more practical if you only have a semester as opposed to a year+) is Sogang University. You apply, pay money, and study full-time (4 hours a day, 5 days a week) or part-time (several options exist). You don’t need a visa and they also don’t provide you one to stay in the country – but this might change in the future. Jess, you hold a US passport, due to US-Kor agreements you can enter Korea for 90 days at a time and stay legally as long as you don’t work. If your program is more than that length…leave Korea for a day or two (Japan, Taiwan, etc) and enter for another 90 days. Different countries have different agreements for these “landing visas/visa exempt status” some are 15 days, some are 60 days, some don’t offer this. It’s easy to do this for a summer even in high school. Suddenly summer school sounds fun.

          2) Most US universities have exchange programs with “sister/brother” universities in other countries. These are agreements that “your students can study here, our students can study there with the numbers hopefully near the same.” When you are looking into universities you can also check out what exchange programs they offer. Except universities with higher Asian populations to have more programs with Asia and generally universities in California will have more exchange programs with Asia as well. Most study abroads are for 1 semester but sometimes 2. The university I went two didn’t have many Asians. And because of that the popular study abroad was to the UK. It was so popular they rejected half of the people that applied. But for Korea and China everyone that applied got in as they needed to balance of the numbers of students coming Stateside. It’s probably not available until after your first year at your university. You pay the normal tuition to your home university. Fill out a bunch of paperwork, which I am convinced is to show you want to actually go overseas and it isn’t a sudden decision. Pick out your classes (GE normally) before you go. Buy airplane tickets yourself, get the visa, and go. Classes you take will count towards graduating. FYI I’ve heard Hawaii University has an agreement with the US government for US-Kor translators. It’s part of the “Critical Language Scholarship Program.” The government will pay for some students to study a language overseas. Look it up.

          3) You as a private individual want to study overseas for the entire degree program. You apply directly to the university in Korea. This isn’t common for people getting their BA, but is more common in MA programs. Usually all BA classes are only in Korean and some MA programs are conducted entirely in English (international studies, business, education), but there are some BA exceptions. Right now a lot of universities in Korea want international students as, after graduation, their university name is on your resume and they get more international exposure. Currently a lot of scholarships exist but this changes.

          Reply
  • jess

    i’m just wondering if when i get to college that i could transfer from a university in the U.S to study abroad in korea….would it be hard to do that? specifically i would like to go to seoul national university and study korean there….and how much would it be around for housing and the university? even though im only 15 and it’s in like 3 more years i would like to have a head start to know what i’m in for! thanks!!:)

    Reply
    • rich

      Hey again Jess,

      I don’t blame you for trying to line everything up.

      “transfer” is the wrong word as transfer = permanent and study abroad = temporary.

      Usually you pay normal tuition to your “home university” and expect to pay dormitory fees to where you will study abroad at. For at least the big universities you’d live in their international dorm which usually only houses expats. I bet you could get into the normal dorms if you persisted. Living off campus is also possible but really hard to arrange from overseas. Usually there are rooms for rent near the school and the details are offered on paper postings on telephones poles. So don’t expect the university to have a list and do expect these will fill up right before each semester starts.

      > specifically i would like to go to seoul national university
      -Not every university with a study abroad program to Korea will offer one to Seoul Univ. It is whatever agreements exist between your university in the US and universities overseas. For example my home university had agreements with Yonsei and some univ near Daegu City.

      You could either look at what university you want to study at as your ‘home university’ and see what they say/offer. For reference I opened up UC Berkely’s site:
      http://studyabroad.berkeley.edu
      But you’ll notice they only have a Korea exchange program with Yonsei.

      If you look at Seoul Univ’s site the requirements aren’t high:
      http://oia.snu.ac.kr/03study_snu/0302_01.html
      Did you finish 2 semesters? (you are a real student outside of Korea)
      Are your grades at least …? (you aren’t slacking off)
      etc

      >and study korean there
      -That shouldn’t be a problem. Almost all the exchange students will take a Korean language class. But to be a full time student you’ll need a few more classes, usually GE (general education – math, science, history…all the “other” subject classes outside your major that everyone needs to take). Don’t except classes in your major to be taught abroad in English. I believe I took 4 classes total; Korean Cinema, Religions of Korea, something else, and the 20 hour a week K language class.

      It might take awhile of searching to find which universities exist in the US with a major you want and a study abroad program you want to do.
      What major do I want? make a list
      What universities offer that/those? make a list
      Of those, which have a study abroad that looks good? cut the list down
      Hopefully you will find a few, apply to each of them, see where you are accepted.

      When you are accepted to your home university and have some free time, go to the study abroad office and try arranging to meet with some people that have studied abroad to where you want to go. They will know a lot of the quirks/hints/tricks of the system and have advice no one else could offer.

      Cheers~

      Reply
      • Jess

        I actually want to become a translator in seoul for kpop bands so should I finish my major (korean) in the U.S when i go to college or should I just go to seoul to study abroad and learn there? Also do we need visas to stay there as a student and if u want to permantely live in seoul after college what kind of visas would we need as a foreigner from the U.S?
        Thanks so much for the info!!:)

        Reply
        • rich

          Well the default is everyone has finished their BA and the better the school the better (this cannot be emphasized enough). Getting a degree outside of Korea looks better especially if it was in the US. If you are going to be a translator some time over in Korea would only help.

          FYI I know “college” and “university” are interchangeable in US English but here they are not. You should get in the habit of saying “university” since many Koreans think College = 2 year community college.

          For the most part all visas are possible for all nationalities. To live in Korea as a full time student (again a full time language student doesn’t count), the visa is D-2. After university it depends on what you are doing/want to do. For a brief listing of visas that exist this page is great:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_South_Korean_visas

          For more detailed information the official website is good but hard to navigate:
          http://www.hikorea.go.kr

          And keep in mind that Immigration continues to change and usually for the better here. Last year-ish they just added a new visa, the D-10, and a few years prior they made a new flavor of the F-2. A few years before they drastically changed the requirements for the E-2 and they also changed the financial requirement for the D-2 recently as well. All that said take a look but know it’s not written in stone.

          Cheers~

          Reply
          • Jess

            Isn’t it true that if u get a job offer from a company in seoul such as sm entertainment they will provide u legal permanent stay in seoul? How would u be able to get ur visa if u want to live in seoul? Would u have to come back to the u.s for a certain time and then go back to seoul? Thanks for ur help!!!

          • rich

            I’m glad the information is helpful :)

            >Isn’t it true that if u get a job offer from a company in seoul such as sm entertainment they will provide u legal permanent stay in seoul?
            -Basically yes. But that company will need to file paperwork and pay immigration to keep you with legal status. It’s cheaper and easier to hire someone who doesn’t need “visa sponsorship” which are the F-2, and F-4 visas (those with Korean ancestry or are married to a Korean) or Koreans. But as long as they truly want you they will do the paperwork giving you the visa. So you must stand out and show you are invaluable.

            >How would u be able to get ur visa if u want to live in seoul? Would u have to come back to the u.s for a certain time and then go back to seoul?
            -You get a visa outside of Korea. And for most of the visa classes you can get the visa from any country with a Korean consulate or embassy. Depending on the visa class and how busy (popular) that embassy is, the process could be 24 hours to a week. For example the embassy in Tokyo (big popular city) takes a week while the consulate in Fukouka is 24 usually hours.

            A “visa run” is when someone is in Korea, their visa will be ending and as they want to change their visa and/or their job. They must leave the country, file the paperwork, get the visa, and come back. Most people go to Japan and make a small vacation out of it.

  • meryam mabrouk

    Hello~~! I really ur page….and iam sure that u can help me…my name is meryam…and iam 16 years old . From egypt and iam in senior 2 i have only one year (senior 3 ) to enter the college..and srsly iam interested to contain my education in south korea…i want to enter a universty in south korea…but as i see in my researches the colleges is very expensive in it espically that 1 dollar= 7pounds in egypt…but i dont know 1pound =…won in korea…i saw the payment in dollar…so i want to enter fine arts universty..so if u know any cheap universty in korea so please tell..if even u told me about the cheapest universty in seoul this will ganna be a great help from u and how much he life in south korea excally cost…and i want to work apart time to help me in living . So please i need from u a big help. And yeah i saw many universties..but i couldnt choose so i need the experi..of someone u know more about korea..i found a universty called hansung unvirsty…soo what is ur opinion about it…?!…so i will be soo glad if u help me…iam waitng for ur replay..

    Reply
    • rich

      Hello,

      The universities here have a pretty standard tuition despite being a high or a low ranking university. So it’s difficult to say which has a cheap tuition.

      There isn’t one official listing of the best -> worst universities that people trust. It really depends on who you talk to is the best university with major X or Y. I did a quick web search and found this but again I am not sure how valid it is especially as it lists Hanyang before Yonsei or Korea.
      http://www.4icu.org/kr/

      If you come here you would get a student visa, called a D-2. You can legally work part-time after your first semester.

      Reply
  • ankita

    hi
    i m ankita from india i am a b.tech graduate from india but i want to work at seoul .pls hlp me finding some job there ………..i can teach also but want to try in acting line ……..but i don,t know how to do all this………..hope dat u vl hlp me……waiting 4 reply………..

    Reply
    • rich

      Hello Ankita,

      There are a lot of job websites but them are usually pretty specific which what field of work they have job postings for. The best thing to do is to select a field and go an internet search to find a site that has those. The exception is if you can read Korean/have a friend who knows Korean and go to a Korean language job site.

      Most of the teaching positions that exist for foreigners are for English jobs and Immigration limits those to people from: USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, UK, South Africa.

      You can get occasional acting jobs for a few hours – a day but more than that it difficult to find. Some positions are on this site (right side) http://seoul.craigslist.co.kr/ but joining a foreign casting agency would be the best. Visas are difficult to get for acting and are frequently limited to a few months. So most actors have their normal job and then act when they can.

      Reply
    • TheKoreaGuide

      Alternatively you can also check Yonsei’s Free Board:
      http://www.yskli.com/_en/comm/free.asp

      A lot of people put request here for language exchange buddies, Korean tutoring, acting assignments, etc.

      Reply
  • Raj

    I got job offer in korea…i have some few question regarding relocation with family..

    1) Indian Doctors (child spl) are available in korea?
    2) Can i get/buy wet grinders in korea? or do i have to bring from India?
    3) Fresh Vegetables are easily available in markets?

    Thanks,

    Raj.

    Reply
  • steve roberts

    Hi – great service you provide here on this blog. Congratulations. Can you provide me with any info on cost of living in Incheon? Thanks. Steve

    Reply
  • steve roberts

    Can you direct me to info on cost of living for Incheon?

    Reply
  • Neha

    hi! myself Neha from India .Iam in verge of completing 1st year in BBA will I be able to get admission in seoul universities for the same because I am planning to migrate from India to Seoul . I will appreciate if you kindly suggest some seoul universities either for BBA or MBA.

    Reply
  • Neha

    I will be glad if you help me with just this one question .please I beg you do me this” one ” favour . waiting for your reply.

    Reply
  • ecomore

    Hi,

    I received a job offer from a medium size Korean company based in Seoul. The salary is 35.000USD + housing. I am a fresh grad, master degree in economics with international exposure thanks to exchanges and internships in North America, Asia and Europe. Is this a good pay? In my home country, I can earn the double… So this looks pretty low to me.

    Cheers.

    Reply
  • SANTOSH KUMAR

    HI,
    COULD U TELL ME INFORMATION REGARDING MASTERS IN SHIP BUILDING IN KOREA.REQUIREMENTS,FEES.
    I HAVE BEEN BROWSING THROUGH NET BUT I DIDN’T FIND ANY CONSULTANCY WHICH COULD HELP ME OUT.PLEASE HELP ME.

    Reply
  • rana

    Hi

    There’s no cilost to join college or what??

    Reply
    • rich

      Hello,

      A lot of the universities have scholarships for foreign students these days. As part of getting Korea universities well known overseas, many are offering scholarships to people with foreign passports/citizenship and can prove they did all their schooling outside of Korea. Each scholarship depends on the university and it seems they scholarships offered are slowly decreasing, so its best to check with the university you are interested in.

      Reply
  • awais

    i have done b.sc electronic engineering recently nd want to get info about small jobs in korea aqlong with study.some one told me that it is very easy to earn in korea.is it right?

    Reply
  • sakthivel

    Very worthfull information.great Thankyou.

    Reply
  • Hello

    Hello!

    I’m a Korean who lived in Indonesia, went and graduated from Indonesian school.
    I’ve came back to Korea and I’m planning to go to college in here.
    What should I prepare?
    And does my graduation certificate can be used in here?

    Thank you very much!

    Reply
    • rich

      Hello,

      Welcome back. I guess it depends on what university and your major. I would get report cards/transcripts from the school you went to in Indonesia. If you went to a university or college overseas try and get your degree notarized and get multiple copies of your transcripts in sealed envelopes. If you went to a high school overseas try and get multiple copies of transcripts/grades and if possible see about getting your diploma notarized, but I am not sure if that is possible.

      Koreans in Korea take the national university entrance exam available only once a year. I am not sure if you have to take that or if the rules are different considering you studied overseas. I would contact a few colleges/universities here in Korea you are interested in and ask them what else you might need.

      Best!

      Reply
  • Shastri

    Hi

    As part of onsite, I am planning to work in Korea. I am getting my Indian Salary as it is and a part from that I am getting 3400 USD per Diem allowance per month. Is it required to pay local taxes in Korea for my per Diem. I will stay there for 1 yr.

    Last but not the least, Thanks a lot for your excellent Korea guide.

    Reply

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