Why it’s useless to ask how much it costs to live in Korea

Before I moved to Korea, I had lots of questions. One that I kept trying to get answered was how much it costs to live in Korea. I knew roughly how much money I could make, but I didn’t know how much I’d spend. So I tried asking.

Problem was, I was asking the wrong question.

For one thing, everyone lives a different lifestyle. Ask any 10 people you know who make the same amount of money how much they spend each month or how much they can save, and you’ll get 10 different answers. It all comes down to how motivated they are to save or spend or improve or continue a specific type of lifestyle.

If that seems accurate where you live now, it’s even more accurate in Korea.

Secondly, since teachers here in Korea tend to have a pretty decent chunk of disposable income (housing’s paid and public transportation is cheap), even the same person can spend drastically different amounts from month to month. I don’t consider myself much of a spender, but still my spending has varied by as much as a power of two from month to month. And that’s not including travel costs, my biggest expense.

In other words, everyone spends and saves differently. And even individually everyone spends and saves differently from month to month. It’s just the nature of living, particularly when everything’s new and disposable.