Essential Things About Moving to South Korea Every American Should Know

Posted Country Guides / August 17, 2020
Anastasia Hill

Apart from being the next fashion icon, Anastasia is also a freelance writer and expert on moving (and packing clothes).

Are you thinking about moving to South Korea in 2020? There are many advantages to moving overseas to The Land of the Morning Calm, like affordable living costs, low crime rates, and a welcoming and friendly community. However, think practical before you make the step of moving abroad to this beautiful East Asian country. We listed a couple of essential things you should know.

Before we start, we will just get on to some quick facts. This country is situated amid three formidable states: Japan, China, and the infamous North Korea. The capital city is Seoul, one of the largest cities in the world. If you want to move to a less populous city, just think about Busan or Incheon. English is a popular second language, but you’ll see that Koreans are very shy and don’t speak it very fluently. If you decide to start your new life here, you might want to learn at least some basics of the Korean language. The official currency is the South Korean won (KRW).

What to Expect When Moving to South Korea From America

Relocating abroad to South Korea means that you’ll encounter specific challenges such as a different mindset, a seemingly strange lifestyle, cuisine, and, most importantly, language. Breaking the language barrier will probably be the hardest part of your time in this country. Here’s a list of the most important things you need to expect when moving abroad here:

  • Eating habits – Koreans share food, and it is less likely you will get a separate plate if you go to a restaurant.
  • Small-sized clothes and shoes – If you decide to start your new life here, you need to organize professional shipping overseas of your own clothes and shoes since the sizes tend to be smaller than the average.
  • The stares – As an expat, you will get a lot of attention most of the time since older Koreans have the habit of staring at foreigners.
  • Friendly community – On the other hand, young adults will show great interest and will be friendly.
  • A demanding work discipline – You’ll be expected to work long shifts, sometimes even when you are sick or during weekends, especially if you get a teaching job at English Academies.
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An American Moving to South Korea – What to Expect When Living in Seoul

You decided to become an expat and you are moving abroad to Seoul, so be ready for a crowded lifestyle. Of course, all our previous entries on what to expect when living in South Korea apply here. However, we must highlight one more thing you’ll most likely experience in Seoul and not in other smaller cities. Every apartment or home is generally tiny here. Therefore, you can forget about hanging out with your friends at your place.

South Korea Offers the Finest International Schools

Expats who are moving internationally with kids will want to know about international schools. You can expect high-quality and efficient teaching, but be aware that these schools tend to be pretty expensive.

Public Health Care System Is Excellent

Get a job here, and you’ll have access to excellent and affordable health care. Even in some suburban areas, you will be able to find a doctor who can speak fluent English.  This is amazing news since it’s surely some of the most important factors you need to include when deciding where to live.

Put Learning to Read Korean on Your Moving to South Korea Checklist because It’s Not That Difficult

English is a popular language here, but you’ll see that not many people are speaking it fluently. Besides, books in English are hard to come by. The good news is that Korean is not that difficult. Many signs are actually English words written in Hangul, the local alphabet. Be sure to research some tips for learning a new language and get some basics to help you get around.

Find English-Speaking Expat Communities

Close-knit expat communities will help you overcome culture shock. People from all around the world settled here, and they often organize meets-up. They will always welcome newcomers with open arms. This means you won’t have to get all stressed out if you don’t have enough time to perfectly learn some Korean phrases since you’re in the middle of finding a professional overseas moving company.

How to Move to South Korea – Apply for a Visa and Expat Jobs

Hiring a professional international moving company surely will help you with all the tasks regarding relocation. But, although you have an experienced relocation team by your side, it still means you’ll have to obtain certain documents needed to travel abroad. This country has developed an extensive visa process for expats, immigrants, and visitors. If you are coming here for work, you will search among different visa types. Just be aware that each type will usually demand different requirements depending on the kind of job you’ll be doing. The application process is much easier today than it was in the past, and it will cost you between $70 to $90.

Moving to South Korea From US Meands Opening a Bank Account Is Mandatory

If you want to live overseas here, you are required to open a bank account. Apart from the fact that you’ll be needing one for work, the bank account will come in handy for paying rent and utilities. So, once you hire an overseas shipping company, ensure get all the needed information about how to open your bank account here smoothly.

Housing and Other Things to Know About Living in the Land of the Morning Calm

Settling in a more urban area in this country means that you’ll have limited space available. Apartments tend to be small, so you should consider using some storage facilities until you find larger accommodation. If you decide to travel to suburban and rural areas, you can start getting boxes and moving supplies and start the packing process by protecting everything you want. Almost every home in a rural area is larger and comes with a garage. Therefore, be sure to hire overseas vehicle shipping, too. Here’s some more information about living in this country:

  • Low crime rates and a safe environment,
  • Excellent transportation for comfortable travel,
  • Pick up WiFi basically anywhere,
  • Traveling to other Asian countries is more than affordable,
  • Plenty of traditional restaurants and coffee shops.

A new start is always hard, no matter if you move just across the street, and especially if you’re relocating to another country with a completely different language and habits than you used to. However, over time, you’ll get used to it and start feeling like you’re home.

Embrace the Korean Lifestyle

We hope this article showed you that moving across the world to live in South Korea might just be a perfect choice. If you choose to carry out your international relocation this year, you’ll have to collect some experiences on your own. As soon as you settle in, make sure to search for expat communities that will help you embrace the Korean lifestyle and culture. As soon as you adapt, you’ll see that there are many advantages to living in this incredible country.

Contact Sunset International Shipping Company for the best quote on the market and let us take care of your move smoothly and professionally. Not having to worry about the relocation logistics and other tasks will leave you more time to deal with the culture shock and help you understand how the new environment is functioning.

Frequently Asked Questions About Moving to South Korea

What is the cost of living like in South Korea?

The cost of living here can vary depending on the city and the lifestyle you choose. Generally, it’s relatively high compared to other countries in Asia. Housing is one of the biggest expenses in South Korea. Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center can cost anywhere from $460 (600,000 KRW) to $1,150 (1500,000 KRW) per month, and buying an apartment can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Outside of the city center, the cost of housing is somewhat lower.

How do I find a place to live in South Korea?

There are several ways to find a place to live in South Korea, from real estate agents, and online classified websites to social media groups and university dormitories.

What are some good neighborhoods to live in South Korea?

South Korea has many great neighborhoods to live in, each with its own unique characteristics and attractions. Some of the most popular ones are Gangnam, Hongdae, Itaewon,  Busanjin-gu, and Seomyeon.

What is the job market like in South Korea?

The job market in South Korea is generally strong, with a highly educated workforce and a growing economy. However, the job market can be quite competitive, particularly for certain industries and professions.

The major industries in South Korea are electronics, automobile manufacturing, shipbuilding, and steel production. In recent years, there has been significant growth in the service sector, particularly in finance, healthcare, and information technology.

What is the healthcare system like in South Korea?

The healthcare system in South Korea is widely regarded as one of the best in the world. The country has a universal healthcare system, which means that all citizens and legal residents are covered by national health insurance.

South Korea has a strong network of public and private hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities. The country has a high doctor-to-patient ratio, and many doctors are fluent in English. The medical facilities in South Korea are well-equipped with modern technology and state-of-the-art equipment.

How do I get a visa to move to South Korea?

The process of getting a visa to move to South Korea can vary depending on the purpose of your visit, such as work, study, or tourism. So, the first step is to determine the type of visa you need based on the purpose of your move.

What is the education system like in South Korea?

The education system here is highly regarded and is known for its emphasis on academic achievement and rigorous standards. Education is highly valued in Korean culture, and there is a strong emphasis on providing students with a high-quality education.

What is the transportation system like in South Korea?

The transportation system in South Korea is modern, efficient, and affordable. There are several modes of transportation available, including:

  • Metro – South Korea has an extensive metro system, particularly in the capital city of Seoul. The metro system is clean, fast, and efficient, making it a popular choice for commuters.
  • Buses – Buses are another popular mode of transportation in South Korea, particularly for getting around smaller cities and towns. The buses are clean, comfortable, and affordable, and many routes operate late into the night.
  • Taxis – Taxis are widely available in South Korea and are generally considered safe and reliable. There are different types of taxis available, including regular taxis, deluxe taxis, and jumbo taxis.
How do I transfer my belongings to South Korea?

The best way of shipping overseas your belongings is to hire a reliable overseas moving company that will take care of everything and get your stuff safe and sound to another country.

What are the cultural differences I should be aware of when moving to South Korea?

Moving abroad to a new country can be challenging, and it’s important to be aware of the cultural differences to make the transition as smooth as possible. Here are a few cultural differences to be aware of when relocating to South Korea:

  • Hierarchy and respect – In South Korea, hierarchy and respect are highly valued. Age, position, and status are important factors in social interactions, and it’s important to show respect to those who are older or hold a higher position.
  • Group-oriented culture – South Korea has a strong group-oriented culture, and people often prioritize the needs of the group over individual needs. It’s important to be aware of this and be willing to work collaboratively with others.
  • Confucianism – Confucianism has had a significant influence on Korean culture, particularly in terms of respect for elders, education, and social norms. Understanding the basic principles of Confucianism can be helpful in understanding Korean culture.
  • Food and dining etiquette – Food is an important part of Korean culture, and there are specific etiquette rules to be aware of when dining. For example, it’s considered impolite to start eating before everyone else has been served, and it’s customary to use chopsticks and a spoon for most dishes.
What is the weather like in South Korea?

The weather in South Korea varies depending on the season and the region, but the country generally has a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. In the summer months (June to August), temperatures can reach up to 35°C (95°F) in some areas, particularly in the southern part of the country. The humidity during this time can also be high, which can make the heat feel more intense.

In the winter months (December to February), temperatures can drop to below freezing in many parts of the country. Some areas, particularly in the northern part of the country, experience heavy snowfall during this time.

How do I meet new people and make friends in South Korea?

You can join language exchange groups because these are a great way to meet new people and practice your Korean language skills. These groups often organize events, activities, and language exchange programs. You can also attend cultural events and festivals because here there are many cultural events and festivals throughout the year.

How do I find a job in South Korea before I move there?

Finding a job in South Korea before you move there can be challenging, but it’s not impossible. Start by researching potential employers, hiring a recruiter, or by checking with your embassy.

Can I bring my pets with me when I move to South Korea?

Yes, it is possible to bring your pets with you when you move to South Korea, but there are specific rules and requirements that must be met – your need to have the vaccination, microchipping, and blood test of your furry friend.

What are some popular activities to do in South Korea?

South Korea offers a wide range of activities and attractions for visitors and residents alike. You can visit cultural sites such as palaces, temples, and museums. You can attend K-pop concerts and enjoy Korean traditional dishes like kimchi and bibimbap.

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