How to Save Up to $25,000 Teaching in Korea

LeLCtO1437000093If you’re reading this chances are you’re considering working as an English teacher in Korea. While enrolled in my TEFL practicum, I researched countless locations to determine which country would be most beneficial for my future goals and plans. While I wasn’t immediately drawn to Korea, one of its strong points is the fact that people can make an extremely generous amount of money teaching in Korea.

I read blogs and heard first-hand stories of people who managed to save up to $25,000 in just 24 months by working in Korea. I remember being baffled by those numbers and thinking it was too good to be true. However, I promise you this: it’s not.

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Hanoi, Vietnam.

I’ve managed to live a comfortable life full of excitement and adventure while still managing to save a lot of money each month. However, I’ve needed to make a lot of lifestyle changes in order to meet the financial goals that I have set for myself. Here’s how I save nearly $2,000 each month living and working in Korea: 

I often check in with myself as to whether or not I  just want or actually need something. Suddenly, I no longer pine for a pair of $75 shoes because in my mind, that money can be allocated toward a hostel or flight in my future travels. While I’ve always been a fairly frugal shopper, I don’t go shopping any longer. I realize the items I have are lovely and versatile.

With the exception of date nights and outings with my friends, I rarely eat out anymore. Since I’ve been a vegetarian for the past 15 years, I am always searching for new and creative ways to nourish my body and mind. Since cooking is my favorite hobby, eating in is not only relaxing but easy on my wallet. I generally spend about $7 total each Sunday on vegetables at local markets, which is able to last me through the entire week. Since items such as quinoa, dried beans and almond butter are relatively expensive in Korea, I use iHerb.com to purchase my grains and dried goods at American prices.

Seoraksan, Korea.

Seoraksan, Korea.

In addition to cooking most of my own meals, I stopped going out drinking as much as I used to. When I first moved to Korea I spent a lot of money each weekend going out to bars and clubs with friends. I’ve found that by cutting back on late nights, I’ve managed to save an extra $200 to $300 each month (and I’ve lost about 30 pounds!)

I don’t have a gym membership in Korea. I like to mix it up between doing HIIT sessions, yoga and Blogilates videos in my apartment. In addition, I run, walk and bike along the various paths in Seoul.

I am lucky enough to live walking distance from my job in Gangnam, so I am able to significantly cut down on my monthly transportation spending. I’m also extremely energy conscious throughout my days. I won’t turn on the lights  during the day and I make sure I’m taking quick showers. Last month, my electricity bill was 5,060 won, which is the equivalent to about $4.50 USD. While this may seem like I live squalor, I promise you that is not the case – I am just constantly aware of my spending.

*Please note that utilities vary depending on location and apartment building. 

Osaka, Japan.

Osaka, Japan.

Of course there are months where I spend way too much money and others when I manage to only spend the bare minimum. As with everything in life, it’s all about finding the balance. At the end of the day, it gets easier as time goes on to be completely faithful to my budget restrictions. These small alterations to my daily routine serve as a reminder that I am lucky to be able to continue to travel the world for as long as possible and have access to a life I once thought was impossible.

 

 

If you’re interested in this type of lifestyle, I highly recommend getting certified to teach English abroad. I really loved my course with the International TEFL Academy. They offer a variety of courses, but nothing compares to their 190-minute in class practicum! If you have any questions, don’t ever hesitate to ask!

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Click here for more information!

 

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10 Comments

  1. July 15, 2015 / 1:03 am

    This article makes it so tempting to go!!! In your travels have you seen of families going to South Korea, in my case it would be me (I have or will have the degree) my husband and my daughter

    • July 15, 2015 / 4:54 am

      Hey there! There are schools that hire married couples and provide housing for sure. As far as your daughter is concerned, there are plenty of day cares and kids cafes around for children depending on her age. It’s definitely worth considering if you’re curious about it!

      • July 15, 2015 / 12:57 pm

        Thanks! I will definitely be looking into it!

  2. August 6, 2015 / 9:08 am

    Wow, Laura! This is impressive! I once almost traveled through Asia with this in mind, but ended up getting engaged instead 😉

    • August 6, 2015 / 9:48 am

      Thanks! We’re all on our own paths, that’s for sure! It’s definitely been a life changing experience 🙂

  3. Gabby
    September 17, 2015 / 1:28 am

    What program did you go through, if you don’t mind me asking. And to be making that much in Korea did you have prior teaching experience, or just the TEFL class and boom off to Korea? Nice post!

    • lauranalin88@gmail.com
      September 17, 2015 / 2:15 am

      I didn’t go through a program. I contacted a recruiter and they helped me find a job. Hagwon teachers get more than public school teachers, so my TEFL certification allowed me to ask for more money my second year teaching. I was still able to save about $1,000 each month last year as well. I know some people who make as much as me (or more) and aren’t able to save much, but we have different lifestyles. If you have any other questions let me know!

  4. Beca
    September 17, 2015 / 1:24 pm

    I just clicked your link from GWT – Great read, keep up you’re awesome adventures hunni 🙂
    I am also in Korea, but wanted to say to anyone thinking of teaching here, the salary is usually around $2100 so after tax, pension and insurance its close to $1800 before any bills such as gas or food are taken out- So if you are aiming to save around $2000, please look hard, look for public schools or universities (October and March are the start dates) and don’t settle like I did (although I love my school) but if money is your main goal – search for a while. It will be worth it. <3 keep living the dream <3

    • lauranalin88@gmail.com
      September 17, 2015 / 11:07 pm

      Thanks! Public schools actually pay less than hagwons, so I wouldn’t suggest public schools as an alternative option for making more money. It’s best to have a certification such as a TEFL, which can get you an extra 100,000 won each month and go from there. University jobs are hard to come by for first timers, and often unheard of unless you’ve been here for at least 1.5-2 years. Any money taken out of pension, you will get half back, which is a nice lump sum as well at the conclusion of a contract, and can also be taken into consideration monthly when making a budget plan.

      One can negotiate money with their boss, and if you’re asked to stay longer, you should be getting a raise after 6 months to one year. I am extremely fortunate as my school has a personal cook who makes us breakfast, lunch, snacks as well as dinner, so my costs are super low. It’s really all about negotiation and not settling.

  5. October 30, 2015 / 1:20 am

    Thanks for sharing this! I’ve been looking for some tips on how to save money while teaching in Korea.

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