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An Expat Talks about Living in Daejeon, Korea

Submitted by vagabondhoosier

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?

Daejeon

How long have you lived there?

two years

What activities, clubs and organizations would you recommend to newcomers to help them meet others?

Daejeon offers a variety of activities for expats. There are book clubs, sports organizations, artist collectives, and volunteer opportunities. However, the frequency of participation tends to vary greatly, depending on the current expats living in Daejeon. Since the majority of the expats in Daejeon are EFL teachers serving one year contracts, there is quite a turnover and variance within the expat community. There is a monthly publication called the Daejeon Access that focuses on expat happenings. Also, other expat-oriented information can be found at hang-outs frequented by foreigners. Santa Claus (the best known bar in Daejeon) and Brickhouse (a very popular expat spot) are great places to plug into the Daejeon ex-pat "scene."

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In terms of religious, racial, economic and cultural diversity, are the people of this city or town diverse? Are they accepting of differences? Describe.

Korea is a VERY homogenous society, so diversity is rare and uncommon, especially outside of Seoul. Those who are not Korean can expect the typical stares that are ubiquitous throughout Korea, and the uttering of "waegook saram" which means foreigner, is also quite common.

That said, overt racism is almost non-existent in Daejeon and those of non-Korean descent typically enjoy a high quality of life. The expat community in Daejeon is relatively small and it is possible to go about your day without seeing another foreign face. However, within the expat community there is an array of cultural backgrounds present, mostly due to the large international student presence at Daejeon's universities, and the science and technology sector, which attracts people from around the world, particularly India.

Diversity is most noticeable in the Oeun/Gung-dong neighborhoods on Daejeon's west side. These two neighborhoods are sandwiched between Chungnam University and KAIST, both of which have considerable international student bodies. These neighborhoods, especially Gung-dong, are also popular EFL teacher hang-outs. Here you can find a variety of foreign food, such as North African and Pakistani, plus a variety of businesses that have an expat friendly vibe. There is also a Muslim place of worship here (just a small room), the only one in the city.

What are the main industries in this city? What types of career opportunities commonly exist? How do most people find new jobs?

The majority of expats are employed in the EFL industry. As is true throughout Korea, these jobs are easy to find and are readily available. As mentioned before, the science and technology sector employs some foreigners too, but the job market is quite competitive.

Finding a job in Daejeon (EFL industry) is probably best done through a recruiter. They have the best access to the highest number of jobs and can place you accordingly. Most expats don't "choose" Daejeon when they first arrive, but there is a decent number who stay here after their first year.

In general, what are peoples' priorities in this city? For example, do lives revolve around work, family, socializing, sports, etc.?

Daejeon is the fifth largest city in Korea with a population of nearly 1.5 million people. It is known as the "Silicon Valley" of Korea and is the technology center of the country. It also has several major universities, including Chungnam National University and KAIST (the Korean equivalent to M.I.T.).

The expat community is by and large employed in the EFL industry. Those who work in the EFL industry typically work less than 30 hours a week, so socializing is a high priority within the community. Korea in general has quite the nightlife culture and all-night drinking affairs are not uncommon, especially with the EFL teachers, because many of them work at private academies (hagwons) and don't begin their work until mid-afternoon.

However, drinking isn't the only form of socializing in which the expat community participates. Many participate in sports such as football(soccer), rugby, basketball, volleyball, and ultimate frisbee. These activities range from being highly organized to "pick-up" style gatherings and usually occur on weekends. Other outdoor activities are also extremely popular, especially hiking and skiing (winter only).

Other types of gatherings are popular too. Many expats socialize in the endless array of coffee shops that Daejeon has to offer. The Starbucks at the Timeworld Shopping Center in central Daejeon is heavily trafficked by foreigners. Idee Coffee, in the "old" downtown area, is an artsy place where many of the more independent-spirited expats commune. Idee is a popular place for expat art shows and a meeting place for the D.A.S. (Daejeon Art Solidarity).

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If a friend of yours was thinking of moving to this city or town from far away, what other advice would you give them.

Overall, I would say Daejeon is a very liveable city. I think it is important to get involved with the expat community to maximize your quality of life, because Western-style amenities and activities are scant. Also, you have to have "thick skin" because you will be subject to unwanted attention, mostly in the form of stares. You might want to sample some Korean food (if you haven't before) prior to your arrival, since you will be eating it quite a bit here!

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Comments about this Report

guest
Mar 9, 2011 13:36

I recently visited Daejeon and liked the city. I'm thinking about possibly relocating from Canada to there. I'm curious about real estate, looking to either buy or rent depending on pricing. What would be a typical price for the average 1 or 2 bedroom apartment?

epower
Mar 9, 2011 13:57

I am curious about the cost of real estate in Daejeon. What would it cost to rent an average 1 or 2 bedroom apartment? What would it cost to purchase an average 1 or 2 bedroom apartment? Any other comments on the costs associated with apartment living would also be appreciated. For example the costs of utilities (electricity, water, gas, garbage or recycling fees), security deposits, condominium association or maintenance fees. Any other considerations you may know of would be appreciated. By the way, yes I have been to Daejeon recently and I did like it there. I spent a month in Korea and overall was impressed. Currently taking lessons to learn Korean language. I could be ready to relocate in as little as one year or as long as 5 or 10 years from now.

guest
Mar 24, 2015 22:21

Hello! I am a romanian girl living in Daejeon and I am desperately lokking for people that talk english spanish or french. I still haven't learned korean but I manage. I would really like to make some friends. If somebody is interested please give me a message. Thanks a lot :)

guest
Apr 4, 2015 02:01

Hi, I just arrived from Sweden to Daejoen. You can contact me and maybe we can have an chat?

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