Seoul preview

South Korea


Seoul is one of the most expensive cities in the world, and accommodation costs are at the root of this claim. Monthly rental fees are not excessive - they are comparable or less expensive than those of Toronto or New York, or any major city. Most expats in Seoul rent apartments or homes instead of purchasing (which is undesirable for many reasons - for more information, see the "Accommodation" section of this guide). While renting is more convenient, that does not necessarily mean it is less expensive. Expect to pay anywhere from $200,000.00 USD to $1,000,000.00 USD as a deposit, or Jeonse, when you first sign a lease for your apartment. After you pay this deposit, depending on the area of Seoul (Gangnam-gu is more expensive than Seodaemun-gu, for example) and the type of housing you choose (high rise apartment, house or condominium) your monthly rent can be anywhere from 1,000,000 won to 10,000,000+ won per month.

  • A three bedroom apartment in Yongsan-gu (the geographical centre of Seoul and most popular living area for foreign expats) costs approximately $3000.00 USD per month.

Utilities & Other Bills

Utility bills are probably far more inexpensive than in your home country.

  • The average electricity bill costs approximately 30-50,000 won per month in warm months and, when using electric heating in winter, will double or triple in price. For a three bedroom apartment, expect to pay about 150,000+ won in the winter.
  • Gas is approximately 10,000-20,000 won per month.
  • Your cell phone bill, if you pay up front for the phone and then "pay as you go" (as your phone runs out of credit, simply add 10,000 won or so to your account), can be 20,000 won per month or less, depending on how much you talk and make international phone calls, which are expensive. Pre-paid cell phone plans are generally 50-60,000 won per month.
  • Usually, your cable and internet bill is combined and is approximately 40-50,000 won per month, depending on the company and the cable package you choose (all internet is high speed).


If you move to Seoul with your spouse, you can expect to spend 50-100,000 won per week on groceries and eat well in your home - usually, 50,000 won will buy you the basics (bread, milk, pasta, rice, vegetables, etc.) plus a few extra treats and you can eat well all week long. Comparatively, eating out at the cheap and tasty "kimbab restaurants" is very economical. You can buy a roll of kimbab (like a Korean-style sushi roll) and spend less than $2.00 USD on your meal, which includes …