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It blows my mind sometimes how cheap my rent is here in Busan, South Korea. I live in the 2nd largest city in South Korea — the 11th largest economy in the world (CIA World Factbook) — where the largest city in this populous country was ranked as the most expensive city to live in Asia & the 2nd in the world in 2006.
My rent is a whopping 400,000 won a month which equates to a little over $400 USD. Yes, it’s also because I pay 5,000,000 (a little over $5k USD) won down as a deposit because the traditional methods of renting is placing a large down payment for the owner to collect interest off of it or use it for their business ventures.
However, when you compare it with even the lowest rents in the United States, it’s $215 less than the cheapest average rent in the U.S. Tucson ranked the least expensive in a Money magazine (online) survey in February of this year. My unit sits on top of a Homeplus, which is one of the “Walmart like” superstores here in Korea…so all I do is take an elevator down to get my groceries and to bring it back home — no more than a few minutes at a time. On the 6th floor of the same tower I live in, I have a CGV movie theatre whenever I feel like a flick. My building is also connected to the main subway line that goes through Busan. And many more businesses open every day in my building which is just a jump, hop and skip away from one of the largest Bath Houses/Saunas in Asia.
Food is also incredibly low where I pay on average of 5000 won (a little more than $5 bucks) a meal and that’s when I splurge. A coworker of mine had the goal of saving $10 thousand dollars while living here. He completed the goal in less than 6 months and who knows what he’s saved over the year. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t send money home every month. While I make the most, in terms of salaried employees in my company, I only keep about a little over a million won to my name each month because I send the rest to support my family. I still manage to save $500 or more a month minimum. It’s truly amazing…