Moving to South Korea - I Love Moving

A Comprehensive Guide to Moving to South Korea

Posted Country Guides / July 23, 2021
Blake Shaw

Bostonian and residential moving and packing expert. Blake Shaw enjoys bar-hopping, music, and writing insightful content.

There are more than 9 million Americans living abroad. The US diaspora spreads to more than 160 countries worldwide. Many choose to relocate to Europe or South America, but there’s also a substantial portion infatuated with Asian nations. If you’re keen on exploring life in this corner of the world, moving to South Korea is likely the best choice.

This nation (abbreviated as ROK) is located in Eastern Asia, and it’s populated by more than 51 million people – 10 million of whom live, work, and play in the capital city, Seoul. With a mixture of humid continental and subtropical climates, the weather can be quite extreme. But still, this slice of East has much to offer. Pack carefully, pick the most trustworthy overseas shipping company, and learn about what expats should do before arriving.

Things to Know and Do as an American Moving to South Korea

People have all kinds of reasons to opt for living overseas. Some look for the friendliest countries in the world, others pursue warm climates, and a massive part of those who travel across the globe wish to find a profitable career opportunity. Whatever your reasons for relocating across the world are, there are things you should learn prior to jumping on a plane and turning your life around.

The main advantages of relocating to ROK include reasonably priced accommodation, low crime rates, and amazing expat communities. Excellent education is also high on the list of pros. However, some cons include expensive non-essentials, frequently stressful working conditions, and poor organization in some important domains such as healthcare.

Check out the video below and take a peek at how majestic this country’s cultural heritage is:

Moving to South Korea Checklist: What Do I Need to Move to South Korea?

Before getting all excited and packing your bags, make sure to create a thorough relocating abroad checklist. All countries operate by unique sets of rules and regulations, so you will have to get deeply familiar with what to prepare. So, how to move to South Korea?

  • Start your research right now and find out about the prices of real estate, average monthly expenses, and how much the move itself will cost,
  • Learn about the local currency and how to convert US dollars into KRW before exchanging your money,
  • Get on the government’s official website and learn about applying for a visa and how to fulfill the working conditions,
  • Be sure to know what to pack,
  • Explore international moving companies and see which one suits you best,
  • Start learning Korean and work your way towards breaking the language barrier quickly,
  • Find places for expats and join those communities to adjust faster and enjoy your stay.

These are some of the basic steps that you need on your relocation checklist. Take your time to explore each and approach them meticulously.

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Moving to South Korea from the US Entails Having a Visa and Work Permit

Whenever you visit a new place, you have to explore and gather all the documents needed to travel abroad. Collecting all necessary paperwork is even more significant when you plan to relocate.

Whether you plan to move to ROK for work, education, or family reasons, you will need to get a visa to become a legal resident. It is best to visit the website of the Embassy of ROK in the US and see how you can apply for it. The procedures differ based on the reasons for your move, but the price range for getting a visa is generally between $70 and $90.

Housing and Cost of Living: How Much Money Do You Need to Live Comfortably in South Korea?

If you want to know how to live in another country, you must keep in mind the housing market and overall cost of living. A family of four will need $5,900 monthly to cover all the costs in Seoul. Busan is a bit cheaper, with a median monthly expenditure of $5,000. Incheon is the most affordable place for expats, with $4,600 worth of costs per month.

Sales and marketing managers and other digital specialists can find high-paying jobs in ROK, and their monthly incomes range from $1,200 to $6,500. Software engineers and web developers can make up to around $67,000 per year.

Housing costs are substantially lower than in most parts of the US. Although relocating to China or Laos would be a lot cheaper, prices here are pretty reasonable, too. The minimum rent for a studio apartment is about $250. Another rule for renters is that they must pay key money, which is a specific sort of deposit that can lower your monthly installments. Buying a flat can mean paying anywhere from $130,000 to $215,000.

Get Professional Services for Packing and Moving to South Korea from America

Knowing what to pack when relocating abroad is paramount. Aside from making travel arrangements, learning about the housing and job market, and exploring overseas car shipping options, you must be in the clear regarding what you should bring. Once you’ve decided what to pack, though, you will have to learn how to pack it. For example, packing fragile items can be quite a demanding task that requires a lot of skill and patience. Of course, you can always simply book packing services from a reliable international moving company.

Finding the most reliable services is paramount for each move if you don’t have time to learn how to move abroad. Especially when you’re planning to relocate that far from home – aiming to hire the most trustworthy and skillful team is non-negotiable. Shipping a car overseas and transporting household goods to ROK will be much easier with an international relocation service. Just take time to find the perfect place to live, and professional packers and movers will handle the process of getting your belongings there. And to feel extra safe, you can track your shipment and know exactly where your things are.

Most Popular Expat Communities for People Moving Overseas to ROK

Foreigners in expat communities represent nearly 5% of the country’s residents. Many of them chose to live and work in the capital city. This metropolis is divided into several districts known as gu. Many of them are quite suitable for those who came to ROK from other countries and continents. Here are some of Seoul’s expat-friendly districts:

  • Gangnam-Gu, a place south of the Han river, where foreigners and Koreans rent their flats side by side and multiculturalism flourishes,
  • Ichon-Dong or “Little Tokyo”, a neighborhood north of the river, which is the largest Japanese community in the area,
  • Hannam-Dong, a region mostly inhabited by diplomats and packed with large, luxurious real estate,
  • Yeonhui-Dong, a neighborhood suitable for families who moved with children, with affordable homes and spacious places for them to play,
  • Bangbae-Dong, home to French expats who mainly inhabit the area due to close proximity to their school.

Most people who moved to this city chose to find apartments on the northern side of the Han river. This area offers them easy access to work and their children’s schools.

Finding a Job or Relocating as a Remote Worker

This country began to draw remote workers from around the globe nearly a decade ago. As a result, it is a top-rated destination among technology specialists and (online and on-site) teachers. If you belong to one of these groups of digital nomads and tutors, be sure to understand what you’re getting into and come up with a list of relocation questions to ask the employer.

If you’re looking for a job in ROK, having a basic knowledge of the Korean language will instantly turn to your advantage when applying. So make sure to mention this knowledge in your CV, which should be made in Korean and English versions.

Much like working in Europe as an American, landing employment before reaching the country’s soil is possible online. Explore these platforms to shortlist suitable companies and apply for open positions:

LinkedIn and Craiglist can also come in handy, and so can newspapers and job fairs. Wages you can expect largely depend on the part of the peninsula you have selected. The average yearly salary nationwide is $38,000, while it amounts to $55,500 in Seoul.

Overcoming the Language Barrier: Can Foreigners Live in South Korea if They Only Speak English?

Learning a language abroad is sometimes necessary. Other times – it’s only recommended. By overcoming this barrier, you can more easily get into the country’s substance and understand its culture better. When it comes to ROK, sticking to English is an acceptable option. However, making an effort to learn Korean is beneficial in multiple ways.

Although all languages are different, there are some universal tips for learning a new language you can apply. Start small when breaking the language barrier. Cover the basics and move forward gradually. Look for opportunities to speak as often as you can. Whether you’ll practice it with neighbors, acquaintances, colleagues, or other fellow learners – you’re on the right track. Lastly, you will unquestionably make some mistakes every now and then. Don’t let them discourage you.

Get to Know the Culture

If you want to avoid having a culture shock, you need to learn more about everything that awaits in ROK. The Chinese influence is quite evident, and when industrialization came, the whole country rose. There is a dominant musical art form called Pansori, where the singer tells a story and is being followed by a drummer.

Today, the tech industry is very popular and highly developed. Cell phones are being made in prominent companies like LG and Samsung. In addition, video games are pretty huge in this area. And although you will meet quite a few people upon your arrival to the new environment, it is crucial to keep in touch with friends as well.

Trying Local Food

The process of adjusting to a new country can’t be complete without trying some famous meals characteristic for your chosen region. When in ROK, pay a visit restaurants where you can order:

  • Fermented vegetables called Kimchi,
  • Samgyeopsal pork strips,
  • Ddukbokki, if you enjoy spicy food,
  • Japchae noodles,
  • Sundubu-jjigae vegan meal.

Getting used to flavors will help you embrace the new culture and environment more quickly.

Know What to Expect, Prepare all Documents, and Hire the Best International Moving Company

If Asia has always felt like your cup of tea, be sure to learn more about life in its countries, cultural differences between them, and how each one’s bureaucracy works. And if you can hear the question Can I just move to South Korea? echoing in your head, use this guide to plan your journey.

Start by learning how to move to another country and what the change will require. Lower the relocation stress by finding the best company and getting international moving services. Find the perfect home and be sure to select a safe, affordable, and dynamic district, especially if you’re relocating with kids.

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