Thursday, January 24, 2008

Analyzing the long and short term costs of living in Korea

[Daniel Costello on Finance]
Analyzing the long and short term costs of living in Korea

The Korea Herald 2008.01.23

"Happiness is a positive cash flow," wrote Fred Adler. While money is not everything, expatriates generally think about living and working in Korea through comparing their income at home and abroad. This long-term view is extremely important when considering potential maximum income.

Through increasing your capital inflows, you can realize your desire to spend -- which is, after all, a happy side effect of being an expatriate. Let's face it, most of us are here because the money is good.

Improving your cash flow or income is all about adjusting and focusing time-related goals. Controlling your monthly cash flow may often appear difficult, but formulating and maintaining a budget will help you realize where it is all going.

There are several useful budget calculators, spreadsheets and freeware programs available online that you can use to give you a better understanding of where you can realize increased cash flows. Try the Consumer Credit Counseling Service's online budget calculator at

It would also be a tasty tidbit of self-realization to assess your comparative budgeting requirements at home and in Korea. If you were working in the same field at home, how would your costs and income in Korea compare with the same situation at home?

One source of comparative salary improvements is in the housing benefits offered in some employment contracts, or the quarter or annual performance-based bonuses in others.

In addition, some child-care benefits such as full or partial educational allotments may be available, dependent upon your employer, to further sweeten your financial standing.

Health and medical costs for insurance are often comparatively less expensive here than in other developed countries.

Extensive subsidized public transportation makes vehicle ownership much more of a luxury than a requirement, while entertainment and recreation options are often of minimal cost.

Cost of living indices such as those available at the OECD suggest Korea's consumer price index gains, at 3.99 percent, are only slightly above the overall average at 3.76 percent, which fares well for any long-term plan of retaining work here.

From a financial view, the first year of employment in Korea can often appear to be a neutral or even negative cash flow proposition, especially disheartening for new graduates. But that, of course, probably isn't the case if your stay in Korea involves working for a multinational corporation.

Too often, it seems a short-term commitment to work in Korea is made on the basis of one's first employment experience here, which is often tenuous, but which acts as a proving ground for whether or not you want to extend your stay here, move on elsewhere, or head back to your country.

It is of course important to view opportunities in Korea as an investment of time, but it is just as important to envision a long-term financial future independent of short-term impositions, challenges or difficulties. The better you are at seeing the light at the end the tunnel, the greater the potential of positive cash flows, despite serious impediments such as the daily challenges of living and working in a foreign country -- where the culture of working and doing business is entirely if not comparatively unknown to you.

Unfailing optimism will improve your chances of success in moving from a short-term to a long-term financial perspective, whatever your situation.

Tending to the maintenance of positive cash flows often leads to a desire to increase them through finding more lucrative positions, attaining more education and making a greater personal investment to your own financial future regardless of your starting point.

Moving from a short to a long-term view on your working life in Korea may be exactly what it takes to move you along your expatriate evolution from spender to cash flow manager.

AceMoney Lite 3.10 is a well-regarded and reviewed software available at

If budgeting is challenging, you may want to try this bridge-building game at

No comments: