Moving to South Korea – A Handy Guide For Your New Beginnings
The Land of the Morning Calm is a favorable destination for expats from all over the world thanks to its simple way of life, dynamic city culture combined with the serene countryside, and affordable cost of living.
If you are one of those who intend to start a new life by moving to South Korea, IMovingTo will do its best to guide you and simplify all the difficulties associated with the relocation process.
Insights about South Korean Culture for Expats
Through its festivals and celebrations, South Korea proudly upholds its deep cultural heritage. The rich Korean heritage penetrates every part of contemporary life, and old rituals are still revered and extensively observed in both formal and informal contexts. Koreans are renowned for their pride, grit, and patriotism.
Few people in Korea can speak English. It will be beneficial to have a basic understanding of the Korean language if you reside in a rural area or a town with a smaller population. Hangul, the Korean alphabet used in the Korean writing system, is a simple and basic alphabet that will greatly simplify your life.
Korea experiences severely hot and humid summers. So much so that being outside is uncomfortable. Winter, on the other hand, is extremely cold and snowy.
The majority of Korean meals are designed to be shared, making them ideal for romantic dinners and gatherings of friends. The delicious goodness of Dalkgalbi, Jimdak, and Korean BBQs will win you over in no time.
Cost of Living in South Korea
South Korea has a moderate cost of living on average. It is less expensive than in Singapore or Japan. Generally speaking, Seoul, the nation’s capital, will have the highest cost of living. Everywhere else, expats may anticipate earning a respectable salary and setting aside a considerable portion of it without having to watch their pennies or stick to a strict budget.
Your accommodation will be your biggest living expense in South Korea, as is usual in most major countries. Even while rates are not unreasonable, especially when compared to other well-liked expat locations, foreigners should be ready to spend between 30 and 40 percent of their monthly wage on a comfortable property.
Here are general aspects of living that enable you to enhance your understanding of how much it costs to live in South Korea.
- Three-course meal for a couple in a mid-range restaurant: $34.82
- Monthly transport pass: $38.30
- Basic bills (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for a small apartment: $127.16
- Cinema ticket: $8.36
All About Visa Types & Work Permits
Obtaining a working visa for South Korea isn’t difficult, especially if you have an employment contract signed. South Korea considers visas as recommendations from consuls to let foreigners into the country.
This implies that even if your Korean visa is still valid, a customs official may still refuse to let you enter the country. After approval, South Korean visas are valid for 3 months. The visa needs to be utilized within that time frame or it will expire.
The following are a few examples of visas accessible to non-Koreans:
- F-5,6 Immigration Visas for Permanent Residency and Marriage
- D-8 Visa for Corporate Investment
- Temporary Work, Business, and Study Visas: C-2,3,4 (short term)
- H-2 Work permit (short-term)
- English teacher visa E-2 (1 year)
In Korea, getting a permanent residency is not even that hard. Many would need to invest at least $5 million or marry a citizen in order to be eligible. If you are of Korean descent, you can apply for permanent residence right away.
After residing in South Korea for 5 years, it is possible to file for naturalization in order to become a citizen. The prerequisites include completing tests to prove your language ability in Korean, showcasing your familiarity with Korean culture, and displaying your accomplishments in South Korean society.
Ways to Relocate Your Possessions & Pets
There are a number of practical aspects to consider before going to South Korea. You have 6 months from the date of your arrival, for instance, to claim your household items and other belongings that were shipped into the country duty-free.
Personal automobiles are also included in this. Anything delivered after the 6-month timeframe will be taxed, and when it comes to a car, it will also be subject to inspection.
Considering all the specific aspects, if you want to ease the tension regarding the requirements for moving your belongings in South Korea, you should probably take advantage of international moving services provided by reputable companies in the industry.
A rabies antibody titer test, vet examinations, health certifications, and import permits are required for bringing pets into South Korea.
Kennel acclimatization is another consideration while moving pets to South Korea. The intention is for your pet to perceive their kennel as a secure location when traveling.
Healthcare System & Insurance in South Korea
National Health Insurance is the name of South Korea’s universal healthcare program (NHI). All foreigners who have been residing in Korea for more than 6 months should register on the system.
In urban regions, it is common to encounter doctors and employees who speak English when obtaining medical care. While receiving high-quality care, visits to the doctor are incredibly simple and affordable compared to the US healthcare system.
The NHI website is mostly in Korean, and there aren’t many translations available, so unless you’re fluent in the language, you might require assistance from a native speaker.
In South Korea, there are no significant differences in the quality of care between private and public health insurance. Private health insurance won’t lower the price of medical services, but it will cover the 20–50% out-of-pocket expense that residents who exclusively use the NHI should incur.
Many South Korean companies enroll their foreign employees in limited private insurance plans since they are required by law to do so if they employ more than five people.
How to Find Accommodation in South Korea
When it comes to South Korea’s real estate industry, you should be prompt and determined when arranging apartment viewings. Your real estate agent might give you a few minutes to determine whether the location you are visiting is ideal for you. After choosing the location, you should have the paperwork signed and ready within a week or two.
Unfortunately, everything, including the websites and applications for rentals, is in Korean, which is a common problem that most foreigners encounter when attempting to find a place to live in Korea. Finding appropriate housing may be difficult if you do not speak the language, so hiring a local real estate agent can be a preferred option.
Career Opportunities in South Korea
Although finding a job in South Korea is not the easiest thing in the world, there are opportunities worth exploring for the more daring expat job seeker who desires to experience Asian culture. English language teaching will be your best career option (TEFL).
In addition to working as an English teachers, expats can also find plenty of chances in the manufacturing industry, IT, general office administration, and fields like medicine, science, and technology.
Having said that, many multinational corporations have branches in Seoul, so depending on the industry you decide to work in, you might also want to consider either a secondment, assuming your current employer has a base in South Korea, or applying directly to one of the major corporations, like Samsung or Hyundai.
Things To Know About South Korean Social Life
The once-dominant Confucian culture continues to influence Korean family, work, and social life, with a strong emphasis on respect for the elderly, age, and seniority.
The celebration of holidays and ancestor rites, as well as ceremonies marking important life milestones, play a significant role in traditional family life. The 100th day of a baby’s life, getting married, and turning 61 are the most significant milestones in a person’s life.
The two most significant lunar-based festivals are the lunar new year and the harvest moon festival, often known as the Korean Thanksgiving. These are distinguished by the meeting of families in the hometown of the ancestors or at the residence of the family leader. The formal, respectful greeting of the elderly, the preparation and consumption of special dishes like particular varieties of rice cakes, and the wearing of national dress are all traditional aspects of holiday celebrations.
A significant component of Korean cultural identity is food. Despite the popularity of pizza, hamburgers, sushi, Chinese food, and other foreign meals, traditional Korean cuisine, which prioritizes grains, especially rice, and fresh vegetables, continues to play a major role in the diets of even the most Westernized cosmopolitan residents.
Best Places to Live in South Korea
Internationally, South Korean cities are among the greatest places to live. Seoul is a megacity that is one of the main financial and cultural centers of East Asia. Seoul provides countless artistic and cultural attractions, as despite being a technologically advanced nation, it is famous for its ancient sites and traditional culture.
Choose Jamsil as one of the top locations to live abroad with your family as this place is characterized by a safe and pleasant environment.
For individuals who are looking for a place with a more relaxed vibe and enjoy being close to the beach, Busan is the preferred destination with its gorgeous coastline, climate, thermal springs, nature reserves, and events like the city’s renowned fall international film festival.
Daejon boasts excellent healthcare and educational opportunities, is reasonably priced, and has a high level of safety. If you want to reside in a big city without noise and bustle, like Seoul or Busan, it’s the perfect location to be.
Jeju Island has tropical weather, and stunning beaches, and is perfect for those who want to work in the travel or hospitality industries. Incheon is close to an airport and one of the less crowded places.
Pros & Cons of Moving to South Korea
South Korea’s rolling hills and mountains account for 70% of the country, creating a paradise for hikers. You don’t need to drive far from the city to find concealed temples and treasures.
One of the most beautiful national parks in the country is located right in the heart of Seoul at Bukhansan Mountain. The landscape is indeed teeming with life due to the rivers and lush forests.
The core of South Korean culture is food. The restaurants there are ideal because they provide quick service and do not require tips.
Even though café culture is relatively young in South Korea, the country’s cafes are cozy, cutting-edge, varied, and inventive. Due to the growing immigrant population and the consumption of foreign cuisines by South Koreans who travel abroad, non-Korean restaurants and ingredients are becoming more prevalent.
Comprehensive public transportation
It is simple to get around South Korea without a car thanks to its well-kept and contemporary infrastructure. In South Korea, you will find reliable, affordable, clean, and effective public transportation.
Local transportation one-way fares average $1, while monthly passes are less than $50. Taxis are another typical and reasonably priced mode of transportation. A one-mile drive costs a dollar, but a standard tariff start costs less than $3.
In South Korea, air pollution is a major concern, particularly in Seoul, one of the world’s most polluted cities. According to specialists in air quality, the country’s rapid industrialization is mostly to blame. Rarely, Korea has also experienced yellow dust storms, which are frequently accompanied by toxic substances such as carcinogenic materials, carbon monoxide, sulfur, and heavy metals.
South Korea is a divided country. Although North Korea and South Korea have coexisted with opposing political ideologies for more than 50 years, the North is an unpredictable neighbor.
Threats to convert Seoul into a “sea of fire” contrast with discussions with the US president that appear to be progressive. So expats would be wise to monitor the political climate while in South Korea.
Since moving to any foreign country is accompanied by plenty of aspects you need to be aware of, you are advised to consider our recommendations.
Take advantage of international relocation services at IMovingTo and plan everything under our best international moving practices. We wish you luck with your relocation to the land of the morning calm!