You’ve budgeted for your trip, you’ve been living in Korea for a week and you look at your bank account and wonder how your savings disappeared so fast? Even though you have a predetermined budget, you will come across hidden expenses that may hinder your wallet. Here are some unplanned costs that you may come across upon your arrival to Korea.
- Bedding (Comforter/Pillows)
- Bathroom Supplies (Hair Wash, Bodywash, Dental Materials, Shaving Materials, Hand Wash, Toilet Paper, Cleaning Supplies [especially for room checks])
- SIM Card/Phone
- Books/School Supplies
- T-Money/Transportation Costs
When you first arrive at CAU, you will be handed a bed sheet. Most people don’t bring bedding and pillows so you should be prepared to buy them. A pillow will set you back about 10,000 won and a blanket can cost you anywhere from 30,000 to 50,000 won. Also the beds aren’t the best so it would be a worthwhile investment to buy a comforter for around 50,000 won.
Total Cost Estimate: ₩80,000
Korean clothing and fashion is cheap, so you should expect to buy clothing. And with clothing you also have to buy hangers which can be cheap depending on where you buy them, You can buy an 8 pack of wooden hangers for about 5,000 won. Also this is unexpected but completely necessary. Every load of laundry is 1,000 won to wash and 1,000 won to dry. Luckily, the dormitory provides detergent for free of charge, but any stain remover, bleach or dryer sheets will have to be bought at your expense. Laundry costs will add up to about 2,000 – 4,000 won per week. This is an expense that will be constant throughout your stay in Korea.
Total Cost Estimate: ₩2,000 ~ ₩4,000 every week
If you forget any toiletries at home, you’re going to have to purchase them in Korea; toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, soap, lotions, hairbrush, hairdryer, towels, bathroom floor mats, and most importantly toilet paper. There is a room inspection every month and you are expected to clean up and tidy your room. You will need some basic cleaning supplies such as cleaning wipes, magic erasers, cleaning spongers, all purpose cleaning spray, and possibly cleaning gloves.
Total Cost Estimate: ₩50,000 ~ ₩80,000
Sim Card/ Phone
A smartphone will be necessary for communication and travel in Korea. This cost can be minimized depending on your home carrier (ex: At&t, Verizon, Sprint, or T-mobile). If you have T-Mobile you do not have to buy a phone or sim because data and text while roaming are included in your plan; just remember that phone calls are extra and they can cost over 20 cents a minute. Data is required to use KakaoTalk or KakaoMetro. There are plenty of areas around the city with no free wi-fi so you will have a hard time trying to communicate via Kakaotalk. While there is a lot of unlocked wi-fi networks, the vast majority of them are for network subscribers, and you cannot access them without a Korean phone number.
If your cell phone is unlocked the cost will be less because you will only have to buy a sim card and insert it into your phone. It costs an estimated 30,000 won for 3 gigabytes of data. If you need to buy a new phone entirely it will cost you around 150,000 won. For more information on getting a sim or costs of reloading a sim check out our previous blog post here!
Total Cost Estimate: ₩30,000 ~ ₩150,000
Books/ School Supplies
Most classes have required materials such as textbooks or a collection of essays. These books are reasonably priced compared to textbooks in the United States. For three books the average cost is 50,000 won. Each book cost between 10,000 and 20,000 won. You might also want to buy pens, pencils, highlighters and notebooks. Pens and pencils are sold individually so you can expect to spend anywhere from 1,000 to 5,000 won depending on how nice the pen or pencil is. Notebooks can cost anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 won. It’s recommended you have a notebook for each class.
Total Cost Estimate: ₩40,000 ~ ₩60,000
Korea has a different plug (the same plug the EU uses), and unless you bring an adapter, you are going to have to buy an adapter. Most people also buy a new phone charger that they can keep in their bag when they’re not home. An adapter will cost an estimated 5,000 won and a charger can cost anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 won.
Total Cost Estimate: ₩10,000 ~ ₩20,000
T-Money and Transportation
Since you’re going to be using Korea’s public transportation frequently, it’s in your best interest to buy a T-Money card instead of single use tickets. T-Money cards are reloadable public transportation cards that can be used on subways, buses, taxis, and vending machines. A T-Money card costs 2,500 won and you will have to reload it with cash. You can reload anywhere from 1,000 to 100,000 won. A good amount to start off with is 10,000 won and you can see how long that lasts you. Each subway ride varies but usually it’s between 1,200 won and 2,500 won one way. This is probably the biggest unexpected cost. Depending on how often you go out you can be spending around 5,000 won daily just on transportation.
Total Cost Estimate: ₩10,000 ~ ₩50,000 every week
|Bedding||₩90,000 ~ ₩110,000|
|Clothing/ Hangers/ Laundry||₩2,000 ~ ₩4,000|
|Bathroom Supplies||₩50,000 ~ ₩80,000|
|Sim Card/ Phone||₩30,000 ~ ₩150,000|
|Books/ School Supplies||₩40,000 ~ ₩60,000|
|Adapters/ Cables||₩10,000 ~ ₩20,000|
|T-Money/ Transportation||₩10,000 ~ ₩50,000|
|Total||₩232,000 ~ ₩474,000|