Seoul, South Korea, April 2016: According to US media Seoul ranks 6th in the top 10 most expensive cities ‘cost of living’ index for 2017. I didn’t find that out of course until I had been here a few days and its a report that I can quite well believe, not that the American media are in the habit of making these things up of course.
Here’s a quick rundown of how prices around here are stacking up so far….
My first korean meal, 7000 KRW, £5 for this tray of food served up in a cafe nearby. The menu was entirely in Korean and the staff were unable to speak any English so the only option was to point at a customers table. Essentially it’s an Omelet rapped around some rice, with sweet soy based sauce and then ketchup over the top. Quite tasty actually, although I don’t eat sausage and the veggies were way to spicy! Coming from Malaysia or Thailand, this is expensive. Tourists arriving from Scandinavia or the US will probably find this pretty good value while visitors from the UK would see this as costing similar.
Since Eating out every meal is going to be expensive I’d better take a trip to the local supermarket where I can at least buy some milk and cereal for breakfast!
£6.50 for a small box of muesli, £4.60 for a box of special K, well at that price it must be pretty special stuff! But since the lodgings will have cooked rice prepared already, I’ll skip the cereal and grab some fruit instead.
Fruit is equally expensive, especially for those of us arriving from tropical regions where the fruit comes from in the first place. But even for European nationals, this is pretty expensive stuff. £4 for a kilo of apples, similar for Bananas but a giant pot of strawberries will only cost £3.20. To help ease the shock of this pricing I need some coffee.
Koreans like their coffee! yes, there’s a coffee shop every few yards on the high street, a few more lurking along the back and side streets. And yes, you’ve guessed it – coffees not cheap either. Typically, Koreans are paying £3.20 for an Americano, more for their latte, in a local sit down joint. I paid £2.50 for this Dunkin D’s coffee served with love, in a paper cup! Starbucks is not even on the radar here in Seoul.
So, quite justifiably, Seoul’s position as 6th most expensive city in the world is not unfounded. Of course one expects to be paying more in a developed land, but this is a lot more than I ever expected.