Expat Survival guide in South Korea

AdventureFaktory Expat Guide: South Korea

If you are looking for an international work experience, South Korea needs to be at the top of your list! South Korea is one of the best places to work as an expat in Asia due to its booming economy and great pool of international expats.

The most common job as an expat in Korea is being an English Teacher. However, Korea’s economic growth has been spotted by many international businesses who are now setting up base in Seoul to grow the regional market. Business-related work is therefore becoming more popular among expats. During my time in Korea, I experienced the latter and worked in a marketing role for an international company based in Seoul.

AdventureFaktory Expat Guide in South Korea

Here are my top 5 tips to survive as an expat in Korea :

Sign up to Meet Ups

Moving to a new country, let alone a new culture can be overwhelming at times. Making friends from the get go is extremely beneficial to your experience. Although you want to learn from the locals, it’s always nice to hang out with people who are from similar parts of the world as you. I would suggest signing up to MeetUP and Facebook groups dedicated to expats in Korea like Every Expat in Korea and for females specifically, Gone Girl International – Seoul. People are extremely friendly and at the end of the day, everyone is out there to meet new people as well, so don’t be shy to reach out.

AdventureFaktory Expat Guide in South Korea

Learn Hangeul (Korean Alphabet)

You can easily get around Korea without reading or writing Korean. Yet, just learning the basics and showing the locals you are trying can go a long way. The Korean culture is a very polite one so small gestures as saying Thank you (Gam-sa-hap-ni-da) in Korean can help you. A quick way to learn it is 90 Day Korean, which offers a quick guide to learn the basics in 90 min or less. You can use this reliable source.

Eat. Eat. Eat & Repeat

So little time and so many restaurants in Korea!! You will barely use your own kitchen as not only is the food delicious but it’s also extremely cheap. Seriously, don’t let the size of the kitchen take over your choice of apartments. There are also no tips and taxes added so the price you see on the menu takes care of it all; which is a big bonus for us Canadians.
You must try Kimchi, Gimbap, Bibimbap, Korean BBQ (all day, every day) and many many more.

AdventureFaktory Expat Guide in South Korea

Most meals come with a generous amount of side dishes, that are bottomless. Korea is a great place for foodies. Makes sure to have some Soju (Korean rice liquor) or Maekgolli (Korean rice wine) with your meal.

On top of all the Korean restaurants, there are many international restaurants, usually owned by expats. If you are even missing home, your grandma’s food is only a few subway stops away.

Public transportation is the way to go

Public transportation in Korea is so efficient. Although a first glance at the subway map can hurt your eyes, it is actually extremely easy to navigate it. With it’s subway app, you can check your transfer times and best routes to get from point A to point B.
The bus system is also great, especially if you need to get to and from to the airport (as it is not near the city centre). You can ride a bus coast to coast for very cheap.
If you are not a fan of public transit, taxis are a great way to move around. They are very cheap and you can call one up from the local taxi app Kakao Taxi, just like you would an Uber. Warning: Uber is just starting out so you are better to use this app. However, this app is currently only available in Korean.

AdventureFaktory Expat Guide in South Korea

Explore the country

There are plenty of beautiful & amazing places to visit outside of Korea. Yet, you are living in one of the most unsolicited countries in Asia that has such a beautiful landscape, from summer to winter.
Take some time to adventure outside the overpopulated cities. You will find great hikeable mountains, rice fields, beaches. Renting a car is very easy with your international driver’s license but as mentioned before, the public system is very well developed and can get you across the country with no hassles. Get off the tourist path and explore your new country!

So there you have it, if you are an expat in South Korea, or for that matter a traveler who will be based in the region for a while, these are important tips to make sure your stay is as enjoyable as possible.

AdventureFaktory Expat Guide in South Korea

Annyeonghaseyo!
  • Do you have any more tips about being an expat in South Korea? Let us know!
  • Have you ever visited South Korea?

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AdventureFaktory South Korea Expat Guide
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Written By

French Canadian with a sweet tooth for travel (and maple syrup of course). Lover of spontaneous adventures, especially those weekend getaways with little sleep. Actual enthusiast of all four seasons - adventures await, especially on snowy mountain tops!

  • Cat Lin

    Your post made me miss Seoul so much! I really miss the spicy food and the liveliness of the city. I would totally go back for the Korean BBQ!

  • Kate Storm

    How cool! I used to toss around the idea of teaching English in Korea. I don’t think my life is going that way now, but it still seems like such a cool country to be an expat in.

  • Kerry Ireland

    I would love love LOVE to go to Korea. I would be eating the entire time lol! Good to know about public transport, as I always like figuring out transportation in foreign countries. I love these pictures! Thanks for the share.

  • Lydia Smith

    Korea has always been a country id I’ve to visit. I watch so many Korean melodramas and I can’t help but wonder the beauty of not only the landscape but also the food. I watch so many YouTube videos trying to earn their culture and cuisine, Korean culture really fascinates me. I’m not sure I can get enough of Korea in a year. Thanks for your post. You have a new korean fan!

  • The Meetuos is a great way to familiarize yourself with the city as well as make new friends in a new country, It definitely helps you settle in faster. And getting friendly with the locals by way of markets and public transport definitely helps. Thanks for sharing this coz I know a lot of people will benefit from it. Well done.

  • Meet ups would have to be a great initial tool to help people new to the region get valuable day to day tips and info to help with the steep learning curve. It’s so good that the country’s transport infrastructure is so well developed and highly affordable. That, together with the beautiful hiking spots would have me exploring the country in no time!

  • Riely Mills

    I have heard of many people working in Korea as teachers, but I didn’t know there were opportunities in business related fields. I am sure many are attracted to the food scene in Korea especially with not having to pay tips or taxes! What a great opportunity to travel while meeting like-minded individuals.

  • Lisa Rivera

    I’d love to visit South Korea one day, it looks so exciting. The food is wonderful anyway, but to try it there would be better. I sign up to meet-ups too; they’re so useful for meeting other like minded people

  • Fiona Mai

    I was once an expat in Berlin and also found lots of friends and connections through the meetup groups 😀 I guess if I could work as an expat in Korea, I’d also love this place, eat a lot of Korean food and participate in meetups often as well! And of course there are lots of things in Korea to explore.