Money, Banking and the Cost of Living in South Korea
As a Public School Native English Speaking teacher you will be paid once a month. Generally your pay day will fall at the end of the month, usually within the last week. Your pay will be electronically deposited directly into your bank account by your school on the scheduled pay day before the business day is through. If your pay date falls on a national holiday or weekend you will be paid the last business day before that date. Staff at most walk in bank lobbies are fluent in enough English to properly assist you with your banking. Just about all ATM's offer service with English menus. Most major credit cards are accepted in South Korea. Be sure to check with your bank and credit card company before coming to double check that your cards will work in South Korea.
The South Korean currency breaks down into:
10, 50, 100, and 500 won coins.
1,000. 5,000. 10,000. and 50,000. won notes.
You may also obtain a printed cheque or "soo-pyung" from an ATM in the amount of 100,000 won. These are useful when paying for larger ticket items or in lieu of a stack of notes to be carried around. They are as good as cash so if you lose them they can be used by anyone.You may need to provide your ARC card number or cell phone number in order to use a soo-pyung for purchases. Some smaller shops won't accept them, but most places do.
You will be provided a pay statement from your school which outlines total salary and an itemized list of deductions including tax,health care insurance and pension. Your co-teacher will assist you with opening an account shortly after you arrive. This account will be used by your school to electronically deposit you salary into. Only you have access to the funds in your bank account. Most banks will provide you with an ATM/Debit card to use domestically within South Korea in lieu of having to carry large denominations of cash. Some banks may offer a global ATM. One which allows you to use the card for ATM withdraws in another country as well as online banking services in English. Most banks have English speaking staff. Be sure to inquire into what services are available to you. Once you have opened an account you will be given a "passbook". It is much the same size as a passport and makes banking quite streamlined. You can insert the book into any ATM machine and your account transactions will automatically be updated and printed in your passbook. You may also pay all your utility, internet and cell phone bills by electronic transfer from any ATM machine using your bank book. Some banks may issue credit cards to foreigners.You will need to speak with your banker to find out more specific information about this.
Sending money and remittances home.
Sending money back home to your account or family is quite simple. Wire transfers involve fees from both the Korean bank and most likely your bank back home so be sure to inquire about this before hand. Before leaving to Korea check with your bank for any account information you may need to send money to your account from overseas as you will need to provide this information to your Korean banker. Most banking staff in Korea speak at least enough English to be able to assist you with this. As a Public School English Teacher you are aloud to send roughly $2,000 a month out of South Korea. You will most likely need to show your passport, ARC card, your bank "passbook" and possibly a copy of your contract to wire money. Check with the bank to make sure you have the proper documentation to wire money.
Costs of living in South Korea
If one of your goals while living and working abroad is too stash away a nice savings before returning home you could not have chosen a better place than South Korea. Teaching Encglish as a Public School Native English teacher offers you a great opportunity to save quite a bit of cash while enjoying a comfortable live style. If you are aiming to take a chunk out of those student loans, put down a nice sum on a house, or just putting some money together for a dream travel experience you've come to the right country. As most of your living expenses are covered by your school you will be able to stash away a large portion of your salary each month without having to live like a pauper. You can still enjoy a couple of nights out on the town, meals out with friends and colleagues and a couple of trips to an exotic location at least a couple of times all the while socking a good sum away in the bank. With the low cost of daily living ie: transportation, food, cell phone, internet, clothing, and your major bills covered you can certainly achieve a nice actualized savings by the time your contract is up, especially with the contract bonus which is equal to one months salary which you will receive before departing Korea(free money!). Be sure to check the cost of living index provided in the FAQ section to help give you an idea of what some daily costs of living are in South Korea. This information is up to date as of March 1st 2009.
Remember: "A penny saved is a penny earned"
Bank accounts and Credit Card