How Much Money Should You Bring to Korea?

A common concern for all soon-to-be foreign teachers in South Korea is “how much money should I bring?”  I’m asked this a lot and it really depends on a couple things.

  1. How Martha Stewart you are
  2. Who you will be working for

If you are the type that is fine with coming into your new digs, dropping your bags and getting on with the whole thing then you won’t need much.  Just some money to get some food and cleaning supplies.  Apartments generally contain all the necessities for living.  Some often have left overs from prior teachers as well.  I have a Magic Bullet-like blender from a previous teacher.  That’s all I needed to bring a smile to my face!  If you packed well, you shouldn’t really need a whole lot more than food and cleaning supplies to get you by.

If you are someone who likes to make your place feel more homey then you can plan to bring a few extra bucks.  It doesn’t take much though.  There is an Asian super-chain here called Daiso.  It’s a dollar store that will have everything you could imagine for setting up your place to feel comfy and warm.  Your home away from home.  Trust me, Daiso will quickly become your best friend for living in Korea.

If you are working with EPIK you will receive a “settle-in allowance” of about $300.  That is in addition to everything else – they don’t take it out of your pay.  Nice, right?  Go crazy.  If you are coming through any other institution, you will need to find out if they give you anything for getting settled.  It all depends on the employer.  If they don’t provide anything, you can bring a little extra.

I brought $1,500.  This is essentially due to the fact that I am a paranoid type-A person.  Nearly all of it ended up going into the bank since the settle-in money got me by.  In EPIK and most private institutions you will get paid monthly.  So the money you bring will just need to get you by for the first 30 days and then it’s clear sailing.  Do NOT bring $1,500.

Looking back, I believe I could have safely gotten by with $500 of my own money, and the $300 from EPIK.

If you are coming through another employer I think $500 would still suffice, but you’ll probably feel a whole lot better with a little more.  Maybe between $800-1,000.

A message to everyone wondering and worrying…it’s all going to be OK!  The mystery of the unknown is all part of the adventure.  Don’t fall into “analysis paralysis” too much.  Just let it flow….

Oh, you’ll need an umbrella when you get here.  $5.


  1. Hi! I'm looking to go to Korea for the February intake through EPIK. I've been reading up a lot on the topic cause I'm not someone to jump into things too quickly. And whether I look to youtube for info, or google, you seem to pop up. So I just want to say a huge THANKS! Everything you have posted has been so useful and so motivating. I look forward to catching up on your other useful blogs 😀

  2. Thank you. I'm glad these are helpful and I plan on making more videos and writing more. Good luck with your adventure if you take it

  3. Avatar The Unknow D says:

    After 5 years I am looking into moving from China to Korea next year when my contract expires at the end of August.
    Your site is making me feel more reassured about going to Korea, because I was definitely not in the smooth sailing group of expats when I first arrived in China.. So I am hoping that now I have some expat experience under my belt I will be able to move into a new place and settle in quite nicely.

    Again thanks for the posts I hope you can keep up your blog and youtube channel, because they are definitely fun and refreshing to read.

    • I often wonder if China would be a good fit for me. Korea is pretty good for being an expat teacher. In a country as large as China I wonder if it’s the same.

      Good luck with whatever direction you take.

  4. With things getting more expensive as the years go by, do you still stand by this $500 suggestion? Thanks Tom!

    • Knowing what I know now, it would be enough for me. Each person spends differently. If you think you’re going to go out and buy many things for your apartment and eat out a lot, then you could consider bringing more.

  5. Hi Tom

    Your videos are very informative. Most of my anxieties have been alleviated. The prospect of moving abroad seemed rather daunting at first. I look forward to teaching in South Korea (Spring intake 2016).

    Many thanks!

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