If your primary goal in teaching English abroad is to save money, then Korea is likely the best country to be. Average salaries are about 20 percent less than Japan, however in Korea, a free apartment and a one month salary bonus at the end of a year contract are offered in addition to your regular salary. In Japan, you would be responsible for paying for your own accommodations. With your apartment provided your largest expenditure will be on food and entertainment.
Here is a rough breakdown of the typical expenditures:
- Utilities, including water, gas, and electricity: 70,000 won (US$70)
- Internet: 40,000 won (US$40)
- Transportation in Seoul: 800 per trip (US$0.80)
- Korean meal 5000 to 10,000 won (US$5-$10)
- Western meal 20,000 to 40,000 won (US$20-$40)
- Beer in a bar 2,000 to 4,000 won (US$2-$4)
Food in supermarkets and from street vendors will be about half the price of those in most western countries. Foreign goods and food will generally be more expensive, but if you buy Korean products you will find them cheaper than your home country.
Seoul is also famous for its discount shops and weekend open markets. It won’t take long before you discover cheap places to buy fake designer goods, silver, jewelry and electronics.
Many teachers teach private English lessons and have other part-time jobs to save extra money. This is illegal and can have you deported, but it is definitely possible.
Overall, you could easily save more than US$1000 per month with a little discipline. There are also casinos and great bar districts that have a tendency to rapidly absorb disposable income, so the amount you save is completely a function of your self-discipline.
TEFL English teaching job listings in Taiwan
A general overview of what to expect teaching English in Korea
Information on visa requirements to teach English in Korea