Should You Move to South Korea? Yes.
I’ve lived in Korea for about five months now, and over the last half year, I’ve had a lot of people reaching out to me to ask if I’d recommend Korea as a place to live. Asia is one of the leading continents for international work, and Korea has very boldly made a name for itself as a thriving expat community that pays well and provides nearly every amenity you would find back home. For a first-time expat, Korea is essentially nirvana.
After about five conversations that went almost exactly the same…
Person A: Hey!! I hear you’re in Korea!! That’s so cool! How do you like it?
Me: Heyyy how are you?? Ohmygosh I absolutely love it here. It’s amazing!
Person A: I’ve been thinking about going there for [insert job]! Do you recommend it??
…I decided it was time I created my own little sales pitch for Korea. So for the benefit of the world, I place it here. Come to Korea. It’s awesome.
There’s a lot to consider before moving to Korea. Are you ready to leave home? Do you want to be this far away from friends and family? Will your job make you happy? If you’re going into teaching, are you prepared for the stress that inevitably comes with working in Korea’s educational system? But if the main question you’re asking is “Will I like living in Korea?”, stop asking. The answer is YES. Korea is one of the few places in this world that I can say with certainty has something for everyone.
If you’re into museums, Seoul has one of the most alive art scenes I’ve ever seen. Every weekend, there’s a new art exhibit or gallery opening, and no matter what your artistic preference might be, there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in cool lights, whales made out of pieces of plastic, or photographs detailing the living spaces of artists around the world, you’ll find an exhibit that peeks your fancy. And for the most part, you won’t be spending more than 10$ a pop. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.
If you’re into nature, you couldn’t have picked a better country. Korea takes its hiking very seriously. You can’t get on the bus or subway without seeing at least one ajumma dressed to the nine, with hiking sticks, boots, and gloves, prepared to hike one of the many trails this country has to offer. Even in Seoul, you can’t go far without running into a trail. Not five minutes from my apartment—in the middle of the city!—there’s a trail I spend most of my evenings hiking as a way to de-stress from my busy days.
If you’re into food [which let’s be real, who isn’t??], Korea has EVERYTHING. When I was preparing to move to Korea, everyone I knew warned me I wouldn’t be able to find cheese, pizza, or any of the other things I so desperately loved. But when my taxi dropped me off at my hotel the first night, I drove by a KFC, Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Hut, and Starbucks, all within one block! At this moment, I am currently working on compiling a definitive ranking of all the Mexican food restaurants in Seoul because yes, there are THAT MANY Mexican restaurants in Seoul. And if you’re vegan or vegetarian, there are places for that too. Trust me, you’ll eat well.
And of course, if you’re into the night life, Seoul has the strongest night life I’ve ever seen. And when I say night life, I mean NIGHT life. Like go until six in the morning, night life. There’s Hongdae and Itaewon and HBC and pretty much every neighborhood and city in Korea. Drinking is a major part of the culture here, so if you’re looking for that, you’ll definitely find it. (And if you’re not looking for that, don’t worry. Like I said, there’s still plenty to do.)
So whether you want to embrace your inner artist, explore the great outdoors, eat basically anything, or have a fun night out on town, Korea is the place to be. The expat community here is large and thriving, and you won’t have any trouble making connections and finding your place. Like I said, Korea’s nirvana.