I thought it’d be helpful if I let you guys know exactly what you’ll be expected to pay, how much, and how to pay bills in Korea.
EPIK suggests bringing about $1000 with you when you first arrive- and it’s just that. A suggestion. I know plenty of people who brought not even half that amount and have been OK, but I also know others who’ve probably spent over that amount in less than a month. I brought the $1000 out of caution, but then I also got allowance (about 700,000 won) from my family members in Korea. So it’s pretty safe to say that I was set for my first month and a half or so of living without a paycheck.
Anyways, other than being prepared to dish out 50,000 won for the health exam at EPIK. after orientation, here are the big payments/bills I’ve had up to after I got my first paycheck:
- Key money– 500,000 won. This isn’t required for all people, but in Busan it is. Done in two payments- once a month for the first two months, wire transfer by ATM. Some people have had it taken out of their paychecks automatically.
- School Lunch Money- 80,000 won a month- I pay a lot more than the average GET…I pay about 45,000 at my main school and 35,000 at my girl’s middle school 😦 My friends have said that they pay about 50,000 won total. I also pay this by wire transfer at an ATM.
- School Staff Dinner Payments- 90,000 for the whole year– You know company dinners? And how usually the eldest person pays for the meal? None of that here. You have to pay a fixed amount and then you can attend the school staff dinners. Usually I would have to pay 90,000 for just half a year, but since I go to two schools my main school said I can just pay the 90,000 for the whole year instead. Basically half price, but still a large amount…
- Water/Electricity/Heating/TV Bill- 35,000 won a month– All of these things was combined into one bill, at least in my case. I’m pretty good at conserving water and electricity, but I’ve been told that some people have paid 65,000 won. I went to the bank on my day off to learn how to pay this. The lady working there set up an automatic payment system so that it just gets taken out of my account every month. You can also pay this manually by using an ATM, but I don’t know exactly how that works.
- Phone Bill- 35,000 won a month– I got a pretty cheap plan- unlimited calling and texting but only 2.2 GB of data- and a phone that’s decently priced. My phone- Samsung J7- is an older model and was on sale at the time I purchased it! I thought I had to pay about 57,000 won per month, but I guess not after I checked my account. If you want a nicer phone and more data, expect to pay more. This payment is done automatically every month since I linked my bank account.
- Health insurance and pension- 165,000 won a month– This gets taken out of my salary automatically. Make sure to ask your co-teacher for your pay statements to confirm every detail. I had to pay 330,000 this month because it wasn’t taken out of my account last month, so I basically had to pay for last month and this month’s health insurance and pension at once. This left quite a dent because I still have one more key money payment…that’s 580,000 won out of my paycheck this month T-T
- New glasses- 190,000 won– I paid quite a bit for new glasses. I figured I should buy a high quality frame since I wear them every day and heavily rely on them. The frames were 110,000 won and the lenses were 80,000 for a a coating and also because my eyes suck and they to be compressed.
Altogether that’s over 800,000 won for things I’ve had to pay that are absolutely necessary.
ATM Wire Transfers- I do this at my bank ATM. It’s pretty easy and self-explanatory. Most ATMs have a foreign language option, which includes English. Insert your card, click “account transfer,” insert pin, insert the bank code of the receiving person (it will be listed on the ATM, no worries), insert receiving person’s account number, enter amount to be paid, confirm, and tada! You can also do transfers using your phones but I’ve had some problems doing it that way so I just walk to the ATM any time I need to pay something.
As for income, I get paid about 2.2 million won a month since I have a master’s and teach at two schools. The “entrance allowance” of 1 million won will be given after my sixth month…just in time for summer vacation *o* Also, expect to get your “settlement allowance” with your first paycheck. Some people were given the allowance right away in cash, but that is rare. You should anticipate having to cover the costs of furnishing your apartment by yourself for the first month. I had to buy blankets, pillows, kitchenware, and other necessities. Some of my friends, however, have had to buy a mattress, a desk, and more.
I haven’t been very good about budgeting my money because I’ve been going a little crazy from this new feeling of freedom >~> Although, I think 75% of my expenses is food….So, I recommend using an app or keeping track of your purchases in one way or another. I use the Money Manager app now to budget myself, which you can find in the Google Play Store.