How to save £10,000/$18,000 in South Korea in 1 year!

When you decide to take the plunge to become an ESL teacher abroad usually it is because of the love of travel and not the idea of making money. However there are countries where you CAN make money and not just make money but SAVE money.

South Korean Won

South Korean Won

I have always been told it is rude to talk about money… however, let’s face it when you are across the other side of the world especially teaching English it is something you NEED to talk about!

People always send me emails asking the same question… can you make money teaching English? Answer is yes. It all depends on your country and in some cases qualification.

So Korea… how much can you really make? You hear of people saving $10,000+ a year, paying off university or credit card or just saving… but is it true? Well… YES!

Moving to Korea one of the biggest draws is the chance to save money… real money! So how can you save so much money you ask? Well…. The best thing about the Korean salary is the benefits which save you A LOT in the long run. Average salary is 1.9million-2.4million. Andy and I are on 2.1million a month working 6 hours a day (around $2,100) However on top of that you get free flights, free accommodation and non-Brits also get their pension back!

I should also point out we don’t go out every weekend and are not heavy drinkers, also we are a couple so shared bills etc! This is how much we CAN save not necessarily WILL depending on your life style.

PAY 2,100,000 ₩  (£1,777/$2,230) (AUD$)

AccommodationFREE =$0


Insurance- -65,890₩ per month  each  (£37/$70
-116,500₩ per month  (£65/124)
Internet and TV-
-60,000₩ ($30,000₩ each) (£16/$32 each)
11,000₩ (5,120₩ each) – Dependant on how much you use!  (£3/$5each)
Utilities- 55,000₩ (27,000₩ each) (We don’t use our under floor heating- mainly because we cant work it! We have a small heater which saves a lot of money!) (£31/58)
Phone- 10,000₩- we share a phone (5,000₩ each)  (£3/$5 each)

Gross income– around 1,850,000₩ each (£1,037/$1,967)

Then onto daily bits and bobs….

Going out
We don’t go out that much, if you are a heavy drinker then that’s where your money will go but for us going out to a nice restaurant and few drinks around 400,000₩ this includes going out for dinner. (200,000₩ each) (£112/$214 each)

We have a scooter which costs about 10,000 ₩a month to top up with fuel and allows as to go all over! It cost us around 400,000₩ but we can also sell it so in the end only cost us a tiny bit! We do get taxis every now and again as we HATE the buses despite them being only 1,200₩ so I would say around 50,000₩ in travel (25,000₩ each) (£14/$27 each)

We usually do a big shop a month and if we get the chance a massive shop to Costco every 2 months if we get the chance where we spend around 400,000₩. Meat is expensive in Korea and if you buy and freeze it you will same much more! We also get a meal in school, sometimes just a snack or sometimes a big meal where we don’t need dinner that night!
Around 300,000₩ a month (150,000₩ each) (£84/$159)

Trips away

We have done some awesome things, holidays and trips away although as we work in a hogwon we don’t really get long holidays so never get the chance to go wild! We don’t go on trips every month so I guess split over 12 months around 400,000₩ (200,000₩ each) (£112/$213 each)

Extras– 100,000₩ (50,000₩) each on silly things like Starbucks, ice cream etc (£28/$53 each)

Left over  2,450,000₩ (1,225,000₩ each) (£686/$1,29643 each)

Trip to Japan at New year 2,000,000₩ (1,000,000₩ each) (£560/ $1,063)

X 12 months, 27,400,000 (13,700,000 each!) (£7,735 / $14,401)

But wait… we are not finished just yet! Then come the Korean bonus system

End of Year bonus = one month salary = 4,200,000₩  (2,100,000₩ each)  (£1,177 / $2,232 each)

Pension= 4,000,000₩ (2,000,000₩ each)** (£1,121/ $2,127 each)

Flights–   FREE = $2,000 on completion ($4,000 between us!)
We actually got a flat rate of $2,000-each, Some schools will do this or some will pay you for the exact amount for your flights or even book them for you!…
If you want to save money book a return flight which is usually only $100 extra but make sure you can change the date will save you loads in the long run! We paid around $3,000 for our return flight (for 2 returns) but will get $4,000 at the end of our contract
= $1,000 extra! (£530)

** If you are British you will not get your pension back, however I was lucky as my school put me on a private pension which means I get it! Unfortunately the government has not made it compulsory to get national pension meaning you can’t do this anymore!! You can claim it back when you are 65!

TOTAL-  35,600,000    or   17,800,000 each!
That’s around
£10,005/$18,711 ($16,387 USD) each in savings for one years work!!

South Korean Won

South Korean Won

Again this is based on my salary and a couple living together who do not go out every weekend or get many holidays- others may be drastically different! We have also been saving for a deposit on a house so have been careful of our spending as we have had a goal in mind!

I’m not saying it is easy money as teaching is HARD WORK however for one year…. it is worth it!

Some of my kids!

The kids make it worth it…. sometimes!!


4 thoughts on “How to save £10,000/$18,000 in South Korea in 1 year!

  1. Pingback: 4 Reasons Why Graduates Should Teach English Abroad « Inspiring Interns Blog

  2. Pingback: A Breakdown on the Cost of Living in South KoreaAround the World in Katie Days

  3. Hi Derek,
    I am basing it on what we have done for the year (we are just getting ready to leave after 1 year) and what we have managed to save. 242,000won is a MASSIVE gas bill although by the sounds of it your apartment would be much bigger than ours!! Our highest has been 20,000! Although I have heard that where we live is very cheap for Gas!

    As I said 200,000 is an average for us, we have cereal for breaky and then the school provides us with snack or a lunch and we eat lots of veggie dinners! Plus every 2 months or so we do a massive run to Costco which saves so much in the long run!
    We have actually lived extremely comfortably here and done loads of things with our salary however it is only my partner and myself (no kids) and we don’t really drink or go out on wild nights out and if we do travel we don’t stay in expensive hotels but prefer hostels!

    Think it all depends on the person and where you are living. The only month we have not been able to save 1 persons salary (2mil) was in December when we went skiing AND a trip to Japan! 🙂

  4. First, this is a great article, but I think you are slightly under appreciating how much you will spend. For my wife, my child and I, the expenses are drastically different. For example, my gas bill this month was 242,000WON, and this is especially true if you are living in an apartment that is larger than a studio. Also, living on 200,000 on groceries would be extremely challenging. I honestly can’t’ figure out how you would get that number. Milk, for example, is 5,000WON, which is insanely high compared to home. Anyway, I appreciate the article, but I think this is a barebones assessment of what it would take to live in Korea.

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