Cost of Living in Daegu
Whether you are preparing to move to Daegu from overseas or from another city in Korea, cost of living is going to be a huge factor in your budget and plans. Daegu can be more affordable than Seoul with many of the same amenities and similar metropolitan feel. There are a few things to keep in mind when comparing Daegu to your current country of residence or other locations in Korea. Here’s a breakdown of the main considerations:
Most teachers pay nothing in monthly rent thanks to their school providing accommodations. The Daegu real estate market does tend to run cheaper than Seoul’s. For a new 33m2 studio near downtown in Daegu, you can expect to pay between ₩2-5 million in key money or jeonse (safety deposit that will be returned when you move out) and around ₩350,000* in monthly rent. A smaller, older apartment in Gangnam in Seoul would require about ₩10,000,000 in key money and ₩800,000* monthly. Teachers do have an option to forgo the provided housing for a monthly housing allowance but it can be complicated to secure an apartment by oneself without knowledge of Korean language and lots of money to use for key money. For this reason, most teachers opt for the school provided housing and enjoy the low low rent of ₩0.
*estimations based on browsing Korean Apartment Finder App, 직방
Utility bills can of course vary so much. Some districts charge more for gas or electricity than others, some apartments do not charge for water, and your phone and Internet can also vary based on what plan you choose. Keep that in mind while you consider the following estimations.
Gas tends to be more costly in the winter than other seasons as it is used to heat your ondol (built in heating system under the floor). In winter you could anticipate a bill over ₩100,000* if you weren't conservative with the heat, but generally to keep a one room apartment warm while it's cold outside will come to about ₩40,000-70,000. In other seasons when gas is used for mainly cooking and heating water you can expect to pay around ₩20,000*. The prices do tend to vary a lot across the city so yours could even be cheaper than that.
Standard electricity use will total up to a very affordable fee at the end of the month, likely less than ₩15,000*. Be careful in the summer with the air conditioning; many providers will place a cap on electricity usage and charge a lot once you've surpassed that. It is easy to go over that cap if you aren't conservative enough with running your air conditioner! Opt for an electric fan when you can to cut costs.
Internet tends to be bundled with cable and can be as low as ₩14,000. Typically you won't pay more than ₩30,000 for this utility.
Finally, you must have a cell phone. Data/call/text plans run a wide spectrum cost wise. You can expect to choose between a plan as low as ₩20,000 to more than ₩65,000 a month.
*Estimates for one room studio apartment
With a Tmoney card, bus fare is ₩1200 per trip and the subway ₩1200 per trip (both a bit cheaper than Seoul). To take the bus everyday to work will come in at around ₩70,000 and daily commute by subway would be about ₩60,000. Many teachers find their school-provided accommodation is within walking distance to work and they don't have to worry about commutes.
Taking a taxi in Daegu can seem really affordable compared to the rates in North America, for example. Base fare is ₩2800 with each kilometer after the first two costing ₩700. To take a taxi from two subway stops away to downtown, the taxi fare will be quite close to base fare!
Your grocery expenditure will depend a lot on what you like to purchase of course. Imported foods are more expensive, dairy products and cheese may seem pricey, and luxuries like wine are taxed in Korea. If you can learn to eat and cook like a local, you can definitely save some money on groceries. Here are a few popular grocery items and approximate costs:
12 eggs- ₩2780
100g imported beef- ₩2000
2kg frozen chicken breasts- ₩12900
800g large frozen shrimp- ₩17900
330g bag of almonds- ₩6690
2 onions- ₩1180
Bunch of bananas- ₩4990
700g bag of potatoes- ₩6490
500ml cream- ₩5000
150g cream cheese- ₩3600
2 1 liter cartons of milk- ₩3880
5kg rice- ₩15900
500g dried spaghetti- ₩1890
5 pack of ramen- ₩ 3380
30 rolls of toilet paper- ₩15000
2 tubes of imported fluoride toothpaste- ₩9900
40ml deodorant- ₩5790
Coffee is such a huge deal in Korea! To brew at home, beans and grounds prices are similar to any country that imports beans, ground beans in a small bag are about ₩6000. Often you will be tempted by the gorgeous coffee shops around Daegu to splurge on a drink! Cheaper cafes will have ₩1000 Americanos, ₩3000 Lattes, and ₩3500+ for fancy drinks. Higher end spots will be at least W4500 for most of the menu.
It's no surprise Korean restaurants are the most abundant and affordable dining out option in Daegu. Pork broth soup with rice (돼지국밮) is filling and tasty and usually only ₩6000 with all the side dishes (and free refills). You can easily spend about this much and feast at many Korean establishments. Barbecue is a popular choice for a fun weekend dinner with friends and will typically cost about ₩12000-15000 per person, soju included. If you are interested in eating more exotic options and concerned with authenticity in the flavors (as opposed to Korean-ized versions) like Vietnamese, Italian, Thai and American food, you can expect to pay more. A fancy Italian dinner for two will run over ₩45000. Burgers and beer for lunch for two will run around ₩28000. And foreign options do not include the endless Korean side dishes!
A typical night out in Daegu might consist of barbecue, beer or cocktails, and an hour or two at the noraebang. A local draft beer is usually just ₩5000 and there are many bars in the city with ₩5000 cocktails, although the price typically ranges from ₩5000-8000. You can end your night out with friends at a noraebang (private Karaoke room) for just around ₩15,000 per hour. You can even find some noraebangs as low as ₩10,000 per hour! So much cheaper than Seoul’s average rates of ₩25,000-₩30,000.
Bonus! Good deals in Daegu
Eyeglasses can be very affordable. Walk into any shop and they will test your eyes to find your prescription for free. You can choose frames from as low as ₩10,000 a pair all the way up to designer prices. Lenses tend to start at ₩25,000. You don't need to go an optometrist or pay anything else!
Haircuts are also a steal in Korea. Budget friendly salons will charge less than ₩10,000 for a cut and style and the most high-end place in the city won't charge more than ₩20,000 for the same services. You can expect to spend ₩15,000 on average for cut, shampoo, styling and even a drink while you're waiting.
Be sure to check out the local markets for lower prices on produce and other miscellaneous items.