Friday, September 2, 2011

Reader Question...which city to live in (besides Seoul)

These ones from Kristy:

1. Are you still in Korea?
2. Also, I'm trying to decide which city to live in (not Seoul).

1. Yes, I am still living in Korea, despite always saying that this will be my last year :)  When you've been here 6 years, and have a car and a cat, and friends, and a life, and an excellent job with good salary, it's hard to make the break.  

2. As for which city to live in, the choices are plenty.  There are  a few basic options:

A. The big cities like Seoul, Daegu, Daejeon and Busan.  These places will have everything foreign available and plenty of expat clubs and cultural experiences to partake in.  While Busan is a bit of an exception, since it's at the ocean, the others are concrete jungles for the most part so if you like your "green" then they might not be for  you.

B. A satellite city of Seoul like Bundang, Incheon or Suwon.  They are similar to "A" in terms of opportunities and concrete jungle-ness.

C. Jeju Island.  This can be a very isolating place but it's perfect for the outdoor lover who likes scuba diving, hiking, biking, surfing, etc.  I would move to Jeju in a heartbeat, if I could find a comparable job to what I have now (it doesn't exist: I've looked!)  But think about it: anytime you want to leave Jeju, you'll need to take a short plane ride, or a long-ish boat ride.

D. A smaller city, such as Cheonan (where I live), Chungju, Sokcho, Changwon etc.  They have between 200 000- 1 000 000 people.  There are enough expats to get your fill of all things foreign, and will even have a few foreign restaurants but the pace of life will be much slower and it will be easier to escape the concrete.  I find that I spend outrageous amounts of money in the big cities because I'm tempted by foreign food and bookstores, but in Cheonan not much is happening so it's easier to save.  And I also spend a lot of time at home, playing board games with friends and drinking my homebrew, or having a BBQ with coworkers.  So, it's just different than Seoul.

E. The countryside.  This can be a nightmare if you're a newbie to Korea.  Think about how life will look in a small town with only 3 foreigners (who you maybe loathe) and no Koreans who speak English well enough to hold a decent conversation.  It will be a long, long year unless you come with a partner and you can help keep each other sane.  I would personally never do it. 

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