The costs of living alone abroad can be high sometimes, but there are still several tips you can follow to save money in Korea. In this article, we have put together some advice if you have a limited monthly budget.
Let’s get started!
1. Shopping at the end of the day
Many Korean supermarkets offer extra discounts towards the end of the working day. These mainly apply to ready meals, which are prepared in the morning by the staff and should be consumed by the end of the day or the next day. Unsold products are then given a discount to entice customers to buy them so that the supermarket does not have to throw them away the next day. It is not a question of products with an expiry date, but of meals prepared that day which cannot be sold later.
2. Making a card at the supermarket
Some supermarket chains, such as E-Mart, give their customers the opportunity to apply for a loyalty card to which they can load points with every purchase. Once a certain number of points has been reached, these can be converted into vouchers. Shopping always in the same supermarket can therefore be very useful to save money in Korea.
3. Take advantage of 1+1 and 2+1 discounts
Supermarkets and convenience stores periodically offer 1+1 or 2+1 discounts on certain products. This means that when you buy one product under the 1+1 promotion, you get a second one for free, while with the 2+1 option, when you buy two products of the same type under this promotion, you get a third one for free. In other words, 1+1 means buy one get one free, while 2+1 means buy 2 get 1 one free. So always check the shelves to see which items are covered by this offer.
4. Walk or take public transport
The public transport service in Korea is very good and not very expensive (a ticket for a shorter journey by metro or bus costs 1,200 won and only slightly more for longer journeys). One flaw, however, is that there are no monthly passes, but you have to pay for the service each time. For shorter routes, such as one stop, we recommend walking. This way you can also enjoy your surroundings more. For longer journeys, however, the metro and bus are good choices, and definitely preferable to taxis.
If you have to travel at night, there may not be a regular metro or bus service, but you can check if there is a night bus service for your route. You don’t have to worry about safety on the buses at these times. Korea never sleeps and taking the bus at night is the same as taking it during the day, the only difference being that there are fewer services and some routes run differently.
If the route you need to take has no public transport and is quite long, then you can take a taxi, which is cheaper than most western countries. However, remember to take regular taxis (such as silver, orange or white) and not the black ones, which are considered to be more expensive and luxurious.
Learn about Korean public transportation on our blog article.
5. SIM card
If you are going to be in Korea for a long period of time, you should buy a Korean SIM card. You can look in various shops for discounts for foreigners or, if you attend Korean universities, for students. There are many discounts for foreign students with student visas and you can find them especially in shops near universities. If you are a student at one of the schools we work with at Go! Go! Hanguk you can get great discounts on telephone contracts. Contact us to find out more.
6. Eat local food
Eating Korean food even in restaurants is not very expensive, but the same cannot be said for foreign dishes, especially western food, whether you go to a restaurant or buy them in a supermarket. These are imported products and therefore necessarily more expensive. Therefore, go for Korean products, which will not only save you money but also allow you to better immerse yourself in the local culture.
7. Go to Daiso
If you’re in need of various items, especially household goods, we recommend going to one of the Daiso shops. These shops are very convenient compared to regular supermarkets, so if you need to buy household items such as pillows or blankets or even toilet paper, you should check them out and save money.
Here are some tips on how to save money in Korea, which we hope will help you. Do you have any other tips to add to the list? Let us know in the comments!