Apartments in Korea

20190107_123917When we first came to Korea, we were very ignorant of how things work here. We had “free” housing included in our contract so we were very happy to know that we didn’t have to pay rent every month. The problem was that we didn’t expect what was waiting for us here. Our apartment was a little bigger than a shoe box. After about 6 months we asked our director for a bigger apartment. We were now living in a one bedroom apartment and although it wasn’t huge, it was big enough for the two of us. We lived in this apartment for another 3 years. Before we moved down to Busan we decided to try and get a housing allowance instead of the housing the school offers. Check out the type of apartments given with contracts in Korea.

When we were negotiating our contracts, we both asked for a housing allowance to rent our own apartment. We got a lovely 2 bedroom apartment in Marine City, Heaundae. Here is our monthly rental breakdown

  • 1,000,000 won – rent
  • 300,000 won – management fee; free gym, sauna, parking, electricity


We’ve lived here for almost 6 months and although the apartment is more expensive than anticipated, we’re very happy with our decision to live in a 2 bedroom apartment.

What would you prefer?

What to expect when coming to Korea

Money Matters

You have signed your contract, the school sent you your plane ticket and your about ready to go, but wait a minute, do you need to bring any money with you. Of course you do. There are many hidden costs the first few months that nobody tells you about. The first costs my husband and I encountered was paying for our own bus ticket from Incheon International Airport to Seosan. It amounted to about $20 each. This was after we were told that airport pick-up has been arranged. We still had to buy our own tickets.

Then when you arrive at your destination you have to buy food to hold you over until you get settled.

When will you get your first pay check?

Then the next thing you have to consider is that some schools only pay on the 10th or 15th of every month, therefore it you start working on the 1st of January for example you will only get your first pay check on the 15th of February. This means you have to have enough money to keep you alive for 6 weeks. I made the mistake of only bringing $800 for me and my husband when in actual fact we needed around $1500-$2000. I think if you don’t go out too much during the first few weeks and take some of your school lunches as leftovers for breakfast the next day you might not need that much money. But that might be pushing it…

In addition, most hagwons will charge you an “insurance fee”(in case you do a midnight run after they have paid for your plane tickets) of around $300 a month for around 3 months. Although this will differ depending on your contract.7-24_won_dollar


The first time you buy groceries might be a bit overwhelming because you don’t know what food is supposed to cost. You will try and convert your money to won and it will take you a while to know what a good deal looks like. 

When we first arrived here our boss took us to do groceries, we were so overwhelmed that we only bought some Kimchi (we didn’t eve know what it was) bonemeal soup, toilet paper and rice. I din’t even buy coffee…

Currently we spend $300 a month on groceries. This does not include luxury food items like smoked ribs or toast bread that we buy every now and again.

Medical expenses.

As soon as you arrive your boss will ask you to go for a medical check-up. Depending on your area this will cost you around $80 per person.

Korean ID costs

Visa costs amount to around $60 each. And if you forgot to bring extra Passport photos you have to pay to have them taken for around $20 each.

If you have any further questions drop me a line in the comment section below.