Is South Korea a Good Place to Live?

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Traveling to South Korea and want to live there?

Before you settle down in Korea, make sure you check a few things first. If you don’t, it’ll cost you:

  • A few thousand dollars wasted on rent
  • 224+ hours gone like that
  • Not feeling comfortable in your own home

I have been living in Seoul for about 3 months now. And it has been by far the best experience I’ve ever had.

Now, there are a few things that I don’t like.

Let’s get started. 

Yes, South Korea is a good place to live if you enjoy Korean food, Korean culture, or K-pop. There are over 145,000+ Americans living in South Korea, which makes it very easy to meet new people.

Safety in South Korea

Generally speaking, South Korea is a very safe country. The average crime rate in 2020 was 0.60%, which is very low compared to other countries.

In most Asian countries, the crime rate is pretty low mainly because the government has a very structured system, which makes it extremely safe to live in South Korea.

And the best part? The nightlife is incredible.

Even at 4 AM, you can walk around safely. The streets are very busy at those times, and that’s because:

  • Parties
  • People going out
  • Drinking culture

These are very different from countries overseas, where it’s very dangerous at night.

You’ll never experience that in Seoul. Even as a female traveling alone, you’ll feel safe, and that’s what I love about South Korea.

So, if you’re planning to live in South Korea and are wondering if it’s a good place to live for a few years.

You definitely should.

And even if you’re not 100% sure yet, you can always book a stay at some AirBNB for a few weeks. Check out the area and see if it suits your lifestyle.

Because you shouldn’t forget, living in South Korea is very different than other ones. Everything is different.

From the food, drinks, and even transportation. All of it will be a life-changing experience. 

As for the cost of living in Korea, it’s about $1200 a month, including rent. This isn’t as bad as a city like Las Vegas or New York.

And if you’re going to work full-time, it’s easily doable. Just make sure you create a monthly budget, and you’ll be fine.

Pros and Cons of Living in South Korea

Living in South Korea comes with its pros and cons. I’ll explain it here below:

Pros

Drinking Culture

Going out in South Korea is one of the best things to do. But, if you don’t like drinking, then it’s probably not something for you. The South Korean culture is huge when it comes to drinking. 

Almost everyone drinks and there are lots of great bars in the cities. Plus, it’s not even that expensive. For a bottle of soju, you’ll pay about $2 to $3, depending on the bar. Compared to other the U.S., it’s way less expensive.

Amazing Food

South Korea’s food is amazing, affordable, and delicious. Plus, you can get it anywhere. On almost every corner, there are multiple restaurants open seven days a week. Even at weekends, it’s very busy, especially in major cities like Seoul.

And even if you don’t eat out, there are convenience stores at almost every corner. On average, a meal will cost you about $15, including a drink. I mean… it can’t get any better than this.

Public Transportation

Traveling to other metropolitan cities in Korea was one of my best experiences. It’s basically flawless, and every metro is on time. You never have to wait more than 5 minutes because it arrives exactly on time.

That’s what I love about public transportation. And it’s not extremely crowded like some other countries.

Internet Speed

If you haven’t used a phone in Korea yet, you’re missing out big time! Not only is the internet here almost 10x faster than in Western countries, but it’s also very cheap. You don’t need a phone plan.

All you need is a Korean sim card, and you’re good to go. It’ll cost you about $15/mo, which isn’t a lot of money. 

Cons

Networking

Networking in Korea can be a real problem, especially when you can’t speak Korean yourself. Most Koreans tend to avoid foreigners, but it’s not because they don’t like them. It’s because they can’t speak English very well.

And this has been known for many years. So, if you want to make new Korean friends, it’s better to find an area where like Itaewon where most people can speak English. But this also comes with a downside.

Meeting new people in Korea when you’re a foreigner comes with difficulties. The moment they know you’re a foreigner, they either want to practice their own English with you. This means that you won’t get to speak Korean with them.

Racism

Racism isn’t as bad as in some other countries. In every country, there’s racism, and you can’t deny it. As for South Korea, it’s not very openly discussed because of its culture. But when you’re the only foreigner in a room full of natives, you’ll definitely feel some bias towards yourself.

And this isn’t supposed to be a bad thing. But when you’re going out and enjoying the nightlife in Seoul, especially places like Gangnam, you’ll most definitely experience racism at least once.

Even if it’s not against you, you’ll see other people do or experience it.

Materialism

Sadly, most people in South Korea are very materialistic. Whether you want it or not, most people are very into big brands. 

You’ll see people wearing the nicest brands with the most expensive clothing everywhere you go in Seoul. It’s not something you can avoid, but you don’t need to get into this yourself unless you want to.

Keep in mind that it can get very expensive, especially when you look at the cost of living in Korea.

Americans Living in South Korea

Americans living in South Korea often have a great time. According to this statistic, there are about 145,000 foreigners living in South Korea.

This is great if you’re planning your trip to Seoul and want to meet up with other foreigners. Areas like Myeong-dong and Itaewon are great places for expats to stay.

However, you shouldn’t stay here for too long.

It’ll get very boring, and you’ll only meet the same people. The bars over there are mostly run by foreigners themselves.

Here are some great bars in Seoul you should visit:

  • Blacklist bar
  • The Griffin Bar
  • Mike’s Cabin

These are the places most foreigners go to, and it’s not too expensive either. It’ll cost you about $20 to $40 a night, depending on how much you drink.

Should You Live in South Korea?

Yes, living in South Korea is great. It’s one of the safest countries to live in. And the food, public transportation, and overall life quality are great.

It’s a very good place to live if you are into K-pop, Korean culture, or Korean food.

It’s not very expensive either, and you’ll meet new people. What if you’re not sure yet?

Then it’s better to stay in Korea for a few weeks, book an Airbnb and see if it’s something for you. It’s not like you must stay here forever. You can take your time and look around, meet new people, and see if Korea is worth staying at.

Conclusion

South Korea is a good place to live if you want a country with a low crime rate, enjoy nice food, and have a great quality of life.

Plus, it is not very expensive to stay here. All in all, you’ll enjoy your stay in Korea as long as you can adapt to the Korean culture.

About The Author

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Jason Park

Jason has been living in Seoul over 4 years and during that time, he has experienced a lot of the city's quirks and charms. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others who are interested in learning more about South Korea.

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