Expat Exchange
Free MembershipSign In

Moving to Korea

By Betsy Burlingame

Last updated on Nov 27, 2021

Summary: Moving to Korea? Expats talk about what you need to know before moving to Korea.

AGS Worldwide Movers
AGS Worldwide Movers
AGS Worldwide Movers
AGS Worldwide Movers

What do I need to know before moving to Korea?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Korea, they said:

"We chose to live in Itaewon because the area is between yonhi-dong (where SFS is located) and samsung-dong (where my husband works). If we live near either, the other would suffer with the traffic during peak hours. There are other nice areas like Sumbok-dong or UN village in hannah-dong, but you need your car just to get out whilst Itaewon has the subway. It depends on the priorities of each family," said another expat in seoul.

"Live close to work. Life is hard enough without a 1-2 hour commute--especially if it's on a bus, subway or (for the purely insane) driving your own car here. For an expat, who should be thinking of a compromise between their home culture/lifestyle and their adopted one, getting a smaller place that's closer to work may be better than a large apartment (no houses here, unless you're way out of town or really loaded) that is far away may be the difference between happiness and h#ll," remarked another expat who made the move to Seoul.

Answer Question & View More Answers

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

Learn MoreGET A QUOTE

How do I find a place to live in Korea?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"I lived with my in-laws for a few months, which was a great load-off. Then scouted out places near work. After a few weeks of looking on my own I brought in my boss to negotiate the fees--and he did a GREAT job. The place is about a 10 minute walk through the (safe) park to work, if brand new and less than I'd have paid downtown back home. Definately take a local to negotiate if at all possible," remarked another expat in Seoul, Korea.

"My husband relocated to Korea first and chose a location close to subways and shopping - an area called Itaewon. Unfortunately, if I had to do it again, I would not choose this neighborhood. The area is frequented by singles and there are many bars. Not necessarily the best neighborhood for raising children," said another expat in Seoul.

Answer this Question

What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Korea?

"There are 3 kinds of living accommodations in Korea. 1 - house. 2 - Villa (which is what they call a low-rise apartment so therefore less spacious than a house). 3 - apartments (or condos). We lived in a villa as that was what we could get for our budget. Not bad at all since to heat everything during those cold korean winters would be ridiculously expensive. Korean houses have floor heating and a villa and apartment could benefit from the floor heating of the upstairs," remarked another expat who made the move to seoul.

"I have a 13 pyoung (285 sq ft) place, but about 100 sq ft of it is balcony so the living space is a little cozy...no matter, the place is new, it's high enough and has enough windows to have a TON of sunlight streaming in (assuming I wash the windows) and there are cameras all over the halls just in case. Most expats live in Itaewon or at a serviced suite, but I prefer the closeness of my place to work and have no real problems getting things done in Korean (meaning I get my co-workers to do a lot of translating for me)," explained one expat living in Seoul, Korea.

Answer Question & View More Answers

What is the average cost of housing in Korea?

If you are thinking about moving to Korea, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"Definitely pricier! Our villa in Itaewon cost $6,000 a month to be payable a year in advance," commented one expat who made the move to seoul.

"It's about the same as at home, assuming you're in a big city and downtown or in the financial district. My rent is about 800 USD for the 285 square...which may be a lot for a little, but once you're here you adjust to the space difference pretty easily," remarked another expat in Seoul, Korea.

Answer Question & View More Answers

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

What should I pack when moving to Korea?

We asked people living in Korea to list three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They responded:

"We should have brought a dining table and chairs. Koreans sleep on the floor (because of the warmth of floor heating during winter). We needed to buy the lot and ended up with an imported italian dining set. The other options were much too local or too rococo for our taste," commented one expat who made the move to seoul.

"Wish I had brought: My wife and baby. They are still at home...the phone bills are not too bad (like 100won/8 US cents a minute) but it's a little tough sometimes to connect completely. More books about finance and business. Kyobo book has a few in the store but to get the ones I wanted I needed to order online though their site (Amazon had outrageous shipping costs) for a pretty penny. More gifts. My original stash of salmon, cheese, meat and such are gone...I go back every couple of months and stock up (cheese is almost impossible to get here, and the prices!) but could always use more. Things I wish I left behind: All my clothes. Well, I needed something to start out with, but found I could get good, cheap and well-fitting clothes here with little problem (of course my Korean in-laws helped). 2 suits, 2 pants, 4 shirts, 4 undershirt and 2 ties for about 550 USD. (And I am about 6 foot...not the easiest size to fit over here.) Japanese language books. I took some courses in college and thought I'd get time to hop over there, but things are so busy (and there is so much to see here, and going home is a better option right now) that I doubt that I'll get there at all. My old leather briefcase. No one has an old briefcase here. The first thing my boss said when he hired me was "Get a new attache". Luckily they are cheap, plentiful and easy to find here. Thing I was glad I brought: My slow-cooker (crock-pot). It was my surrogate oven (they usually use their ovens as grills, which makes it hard to make lasagna and such). Webcamera. This thing is great for communicating with my wife and child," remarked another expat in Seoul, Korea.

Answer Question & View More Answers

AGS Worldwide Movers can move you to and from anywhere in the world. Presently the AGS Group has over 141 locations in more than 95 countries and has one of the largest networks in the international removals industry. We relocate 85,000 families every year. Free moving quote!
AGS Worldwide MoversMoving to Korea Soon?

AGS Worldwide Movers can move you to and from anywhere in the world. Presently the AGS Group has over 141 locations in more than 95 countries and has one of the largest networks in the international removals industry. We relocate 85,000 families every year. Free moving quote!
Get a Quote

What cultural faux pas should I try to avoid making in Korea?

We asked people in Korea if they could share any humorous cultural blunders they commited. For new expats, keep in mind that these incidents are an inevitable part of expat life. Learning to laugh about them is the key!:

"Tipping...there is NO tipping in South Korea - period. Not for waitresses, taxi drivers, Concierges, Room Service, ANYTHING. They take pride in what and how they do things they are paid to do. Tipping is an insult. Business Cards are a BIG thing. When given a business card, actually take 30 or so seconds to look at it. Put it in a shirt pocket or your wallet. Do NOT put it in your back pocket and sit on it. The card is a reflection of the person," said another expat in Chinhae.

Answer this Question

What are medical services in Korea like?

When we asked expats and global nomads about the quality of medical care in Korea, they replied:

"The doctor co-pay and medications are very inexpensive compared to my home country. I do not trust the doctors to operate as three friends died while be operated on," stated one expat who made the move to Daejeon.

Answer this Question

About the Author

Betsy Burlingame Betsy Burlingame is the Founder and President of Expat Exchange and is one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. She launched Expat Exchange in 1997 as her Master's thesis project at NYU. Prior to Expat Exchange, Betsy worked at AT&T in International and Mass Market Marketing. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in International Business and German.

Some of Betsy's articles include 12 Best Places to Live in Portugal, 7 Best Places to Live in Panama and 12 Things to Know Before Moving to the Dominican Republic. Betsy loves to travel and spend time with her family. Connect with Betsy on LinkedIn.

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quote for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Contribute to Korea Network Contribute
Help others in Korea by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Korea.

AGS Worldwide Movers
AGS Worldwide Movers

Guides to Cities in Korea
Seoul Suwon
Country Resources
Health Insurance Moving & Shipping More Resources

Copyright 1997-2022 Burlingame Interactive, Inc.

Privacy Policy Legal