A Not-so-in-depth Financial Rundown of My 1st Month in Korea
So this long overdue since it now the end of my third month living in Korea, but better late than never I guess? This is going to be a super brief rundown of how much money I spent during my first month living in Korea. The time frame I am counting is from the moment I landed in the country (August 13th) up until my first paycheck which was the 25th of September. And I just want to preface this blog post by saying that I live in Boseong, Korea which is a rural area so the prices that I paid for things might be different than if I were living in a major city.
When coming to teach in Korea it is advised that one brings between 800-1000 USD worth, with preference placed on bringing closer to the latter amount. Being the worry wart that I am, I chose to bring more than that because I didn’t want the possibility of running out of money in case there were some costs for things that I was not expecting.
So upon entry into the country I had around a total of $1400 which is approximately 1,567,000 Won. Out of that, 1,355,000 was already in Korean Won upon arrival. I ordered it from my bank (and thank you to my sister for the extra that she chipped in!) so that I could already have the local currency on hand. The rest of it, I had it exchanged at the airport.
Throughout my first month and a half, I had to buy food, pay for paperwork/legal things upon arrival, and other things to get me settled into my apartment such as towels, dishes to eat off of, toilet paper, shower shoes, cleaning supplies, etc. I also had to go grocery shopping a few times, bought some nice skincare products, and ordered quite a bit of fried chicken. Living frugally wasn’t really on my mind. I would just buy what I need at the time that I needed it and was pretty much buying fried chicken whenever I got the taste for it, which was often since fried chicken is the only thing familiar to my taste buds here in Korea.
With that being said, I still only spent around 604,475 Won which is around ~$543, leaving me with 955,000 Won (approx. $857). It took me a little while to finally purchase some bedding because I couldn’t fathom spending the insane amount of money that Korea charges for some darn blankets. So I actually slept on a plain mattress for three weeks lol. But it was okay because it was literally 90 degrees everyday with 95% humidity so I definitely didn’t freeze at night(remember, this was in August/September).
When I did finally find some bedding online, I was able to purchase enough pieces on Gmarket to create a full set for my queen-sized bed for the price of 184,700 Won which is around $165. That’s still quite a bit of money but at least I was able to get absolutely everything: 4 pillows, 6 pillow cases (this was an accident), comforter, mattress cushion, mattress topper, and a bed skirt. Add on a few more skincare items and my total purchase was 198,600 Won which is around $182.
So, $543 + $182 = $725. I spent approximately $725 during my first month here in Korea, leaving me with around $675 leftover.
I received my entrance allowance and settlement allowance probably a day after I opened my bank account and submitted my banking information to my school. To be honest, I did not even need to touch it, so it sat in my bank account as a nice little cushion, which was nice. Add to that my first paycheck a couple weeks later, and we are looking at a nice dollar amount for whenever or wherever I needed it.
I would say that the recommendation of bringing $800-$1000 is very accurate. You can definitely get by with only bringing $800, especially if you are frugal with your money. Seeing as though I spent closer to the $800 minimum, I am glad that I brought the amount that I did even though I would have been fine with just 1000.
I know I didn’t go into much detail or make a proper rundown of prices, but that’s honestly because I stopped keeping track of the cost of things and just started counting how much money I had left after my purchases instead. Even still, I hope this post was helpful in some way. Thanks for reading!