If 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.
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.
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.
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!