save money while teaching in Korea

5 Tips to Save Money while Teaching in Korea

As an ESL teacher in Korea, foreigners are able to live a great life, take part in many new experiences, and even save a good chunk of money. If you’re thinking about teaching abroad in Korea, you may be looking for ways to stretch your money further. Luckily, it’s easier than you might think to save big. Take a look below for some helpful tips to save money while teaching in Korea.

Get a Hobby

One great way to save money while teaching in Korea is to get a hobby. There are many fun activities and hobbies that can be enjoyed while in Korea. This includes hiking, taking free language classes, playing an instrument, or joining a sports league or gym. While you may have to spend a bit of money, depending on the hobby, you will find that you’re able to spend less over time. Your hobby will take up a large chunk of time, making it less likely that you’ll waste your money on unnecessary purchases. Taking part in a hobby that you enjoy can also keep you busy and allow you to feel happier. Probably the easiest way to join a club is to use Meetup. Meetup is thriving in Korea, especially in Seoul and the surrounding area.

Budget Travel

One of the great things about living in Korea is the opportunity to be so close to many other Asian countries. Many ESL teachers choose to travel abroad during their vacation periods. Take advantage of this opportunity, but make sure that you consider making a budget. There are many ways to budget travel–such as using a budget airline, staying in hostels or couch-surfing, or setting a daily spending limit. Travel doesn’t have to be expensive! If you’re really low on funds and don’t want to dip into your saving account, take the time to explore the rest of Korea. The country has so much to offer and transportation by bus and train can be very affordable (especially when compared to an airplane ticket!).

Plan Your Meals

Another way to save is by planning out your meals. Instead of waiting last minute and ordering takeout every night, why not plan for the week? Sometimes, cooking at home may be a more affordable option, as long as you shop smartly for ingredients. Going to a restaurant can also be economical. Eating Western food can quickly add up, but if you explore your local neighborhood, you will learn the best places to eat delicious Korean food for a great price.

Send Money Home Regularly

It can be too easy to spend more than you want, if you have a large sum of money sitting in your bank account. It’s a good idea to get into the habit of sending your money home (or to a Korean savings account) on a regular basis. As soon as you get paid, send your money away so that you’re not tempted to spend it. You will start to build up a nice savings pile over time.

Drink Economically

You may not want to completely cut out drinking while in Korea. The good news is there are ways to save on this social activity! Avoid going to expensive foreigner bars the next time you go out on the town. Instead, consider gathering at a local convenience store. You may also want to host weekly gatherings at your apartment – so you and your friends can socialize without having to break the bank. If you’re a big drinker, trimming down your drinking nights can allow you to seriously save money while teaching in Korea!

Save Money While Teaching in Korea

It’s possible to save a good amount of money when living and teaching in South Korea. Take the above tips into consideration so that you can pay off debts and save for future adventures.

By Natasha Gabrielle


Natasha is a travel blogger, ESL teacher, adventurer, and sometimes runner—currently living abroad in South Korea. She blogs about living and teaching in South Korea as well as her travel adventures. Find out more about her and her travels at

Featured Articles, Living in Korea

4 thoughts on “5 Tips to Save Money while Teaching in Korea

  1. Pingback: tips to save money while teaching in korea | Te...

  2. Mark Johnson on

    Salaries stagnation and price index inflation has quickly made Korea an unaffordable place to be an ESL teacher. Do yourself a favor and search for salary comparisons and you’ll realize how little you are being paid comparative to other industries. Those foolish enough to entertain 2.3 salaries don’t realize that was the rate being paid 7-8 years ago. Country has been flooded with far too many holistic, yoga brained millenniums with no clue on what it takes to save for retirement and build a life. I can’t really blame the business owner because the new crop of 24-25 year old’s are just so easily exploitable. It’s almost like shooting fish in a barrel. Even as a non-ESL teacher making 5 million a month I still struggle with continuing to work here due to low wages.

    Also let’s look at the logic of this blog writer. “It’s a good idea to get into the habit of sending your money home (or to a Korean savings account) on a regular basis. As soon as you get paid, send your money away so that you’re not tempted to spend it.” How is this cost effective? Banking fee’s alone for the 2.3 migrant ESL teacher would be cost prohibitive. One way around that is bit coins, but explaining a viable researched methodology would require effort more effort then most 20 somethings can muster.

  3. Vivienne on

    If you have a Citibank Korea account, you can save money on transfer fees IF you are sending money through their website AND to a Citibank account in your home country. You have to choose the option, Citibank Global Transfer.

    If you a friend who is stationed at one of the U.S. military bases in Korea, you can convert your Korean won into U.S. dollars, get an international money order and airmail it to the U.S. via registered airmail.

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