Geoje (South Korea) Cost of Living – that will be the topic of today’s article.
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Geoje island is South Korea’s second-largest island after Jeju. It is a region that is abundant in natural beauty and attractions. If you’re a beach-goer that wants to be far from the crowded beaches of Busan and enjoy all the attractions at a leisurely pace, then Geoje is the right place for you.
Apart from being a great tourist destination, Geoje also has great amenities that make it appealing to the expat that needs a great place to settle down. There are expanding employment opportunities, great international schools, growing investment opportunities, guaranteed safety, and lots of blue beaches.
In this article, we’ll be showing you everything you need to know about life in Geoje and the cost of living on this beautiful island.
Why Geoje is an Expat Destination
1. Larger Foreign Population than Korean Cities
Geoje island is a major tourist destination, and this is why you would find a higher concentration of foreigners on its shores. In fact, it is considered the highest in the whole of Korea. This large foreign community gives you a better chance of blending into the Korean community and learning their norms and traditions.
2. Enough Employment Opportunities
As a native English language speaker, you’ll easily find work as a teacher in the schools in Geoje. Although you might need to acquire a reasonable level of proficiency in Korean, your mastery of English still gives you a competitive edge.
Shipbuilding is one major part of Geoje’s industry, and it provides employment for a third of its population. In fact, a good number of the expats who move to Geoje are there to work in these shipbuilding yards. The second and third largest shipyards in the whole of South Korea are right in Geoje.
Moreover, they are Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Industry (DSME) and Samsung Heavy Industries (SMI). Therefore, as a foreigner looking for employment, you’ll not be disappointed.
3. Lots of Tourist Attractions
There are a lot of tourist attractions that would naturally pique the interest of a foreigner and make them want to move to Geoje. First off, there are several islands in the city, with the Geoje Island being the largest of them all.
There are several historical and cultural sites that emphasize Geoje’s age-long beauty. Some of those sites include the Gohyeon Castle, the Geoje Township Government Office, which is considered Korea’s 84th cultural treasure, the Pyewang, and Oksangeum Fortresses and many more.
Aside from this fact, there are also parks and museums like the Okpo Great Victory Park, the Geoje Museum, and the Geoje Shipbuilding Marine Cultural Center. Beaches are a major tourist spot, and Geoje has an abundance of them.
4. Low Population Density
With a population of a little over 230,000 people, it is possible to enjoy the beauty Geoje offers truly. The islands, beaches, and surrounding attractions are not crowded or overpriced. Many people will consider this a good reason to travel to Geoje and experience a well-deserved break from the hubbub of the city.
5. It’s Safe
Expats who live and work in Geoje have testified to the low crime rate in the city. They confirm that there are literally no good or bad neighborhoods. The only criteria for choosing where to move your household is its accessibility to the most important amenities to you.
This is a good time to mention that Korea is one of the safest places in the world, and Geoje is just one of the safer places within it.
6. Great Weather Conditions
Geoje has a subtropical climate that guarantees that you can lounge on the beach during the summer and still not shiver to death during winter. It rarely snows, and the weather is just generally a warm, cozy blanket. All year-round, the seas remain blue, and the mountains are always conducive for a hike.
Cons of Living in Geoje
There are a few reasons why Geoje might not be the perfect place to live. Here’s a few;
1. Language Barriers
Geoje island is South Korean, and naturally, the main language spoken there is Korean. Trade, education, media, and all forms of interpersonal communication are done in Korean.
As a native English speaker, you might struggle with communicating unless you learn the language from a formal establishment. The good thing, though, is that the Korean language is very easy to learn, and you can get by with the basics until you, at least, reach an intermediate level.
2. Higher Cost of Living
Compared to the rest of South Korea and Korea in general, the cost of living in Geoje is quite high. There are two reasons why this is the case. The first is that a lot of goods are imported since they cannot be produced locally. With importations come taxes, and this drives up their prices when they go into retail.
Like most tourist destinations, Geoje’s living standards are made to accommodate people from different places. Apart from the tourists, a lot of foreigners travel just to work in the shipyards, and these foreigners are relatively wealthy. These factors contribute to the spike in real estate and retail prices.
3. Making Friends Can Be Difficult
This is mainly caused by the language barrier you might experience on your arrival. The signs, instructions, and even documents are written in Korean, and if you do not understand, you will not be able to communicate. Koreans are not exactly uptight, but they are not accommodating either. Once you can learn to speak the language better, your communication skills will improve, and you’ll make a friend.
Interesting Facts About Geoje
There are certain facts that make Geoje particularly special, and some of those interesting facts are:
- Geoje is a Korean word that translates to ‘great rescue.
- Geoje is nicknamed ‘the Blue City because of the clear blue seas and fresh air characterizing its beaches.
- The Hakdong Mongdol beach in Geoje is not unique for its sandy beaches but black pebbles. It is also the largest gravel beach in the whole of Korea, and residents have nicknamed the beach the black pearl.
- One of Geoje’s natural attractions is the Hill of Wind. There is a small spot where you can stand on top of the hill and see the South Sea.
- One of the most popular Korean movies, 2 Days & 1 NightI, was shot in the Hill of Wind, and that made the spot famous.
- You must always remove your shoes before entering their homes. Not doing this is considered an offence.
- Never write your name or that of others in red ink. It is against Korean culture because they believe that only the name of a deceased person can be written in red ink.
- Geoje is home to two of the biggest shipyards in the world – Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Industry (DSME) and Samsung Heavy Industries (SMI).
- Korea’s 84th cultural treasure is right in Geoje. It is the Geoje Township Government Office that was established to administer building and administration plans during the Japanese Invasions.
- Geoje Island is the second-largest island in Korea, second only to Jeju island.
- After marriage, a Korean woman does not change her name.
- During the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953, the military government headed by General Douglas MacArthur used the island to hold 170,000 prisoners of war. A prisoner of war camp was established, and there, they abused, tortured, and stripped many prisoners of their human rights. There were also executions.
Cost Of Living
Geoje is one of the best places in Korea to live in. In fact, it is in the top 9% of the best places to live in the world, and this is for good reason. Compared to the rest of Korea, the cost of living in Geoje can be considered high, and this is because it is an appealing destination for foreigners.
If you decide to move to Geoje for a long period of time, you’ll need to understand how much certain things cost so you’ll always be prepared.
Note: South Korean currency is called the South Korea Won (KRW), and 1,100 KRW equals $1. Therefore, the prices here will be listed in their United States dollar equivalent.
Accommodation in Geoje
As more and more expats move into Geoje to work on shipbuilding projects, the housing market dwindles. There is a higher demand for more housing, and these companies are now forced to consider block booking as an alternative housing option.
In the meantime, you will find the Okpo and Gohyeon neighborhoods more suited to expats. Okpo is located on the eastern part of Geoje, and it houses many employees from DSME’s shipyard. Apartment buildings in that area cost from KRW 1-5 million.
There are also several amenities in Okpo like an international school, a hotel run by local expats, western bars and restaurants, etc. Gohyeon is also like Okpo, but it’s located on the western side. It houses most of SHI shipyards employees and is surrounded with several amenities like a shopping mall, cinemas, restaurants, etc.
A lot of expats in Geoje are transient and would only prefer to rent their homes. The most common option is the 1-4 bedrooms, fully furnished flats. Some of these apartments even come with their own gyms and pools.
Also popular among expats are townhouses.
However, they are bigger than apartments and, of course, cost more. A 1 bedroom apartment in the city’s center would cost at least $280 in rent every month. A 3 bedroom apartment in that same area would cost $600-$1500 per month.
Utilities in Geoje
Electricity, heating, water, and internet bills tend to be higher when compared to the US’ standard rates, especially when it’s summer or winter. While one person would spend a little over $89 on the utility bills, a family of four would spend at least $130.
These prices are 100% dependent on factors like the size of the residence, the season, and of course, how much of the utilities you (and your family) consume.
Food in Geoje
South Korean cuisine offers the spiciest and most delicious tastes. There are several traditional markets in Geoje where you can buy local food at inexpensive prices. On days when you crave food that is not native to Korea, you might need to walk into the supermarkets to purchase the ingredients.
Naturally, food bought in the local market is cheaper than food bought in the supermarkets. The Geoje Gohyeon Traditional Market is one of such local markets, and it is located in the downtown area of the island. You will find a lot of fish and seafood, seeing as it’s an island. Oysters are the most popular.
The fruits that are grown on the island can get a bit pricey. For example, a small bowl of strawberries costs over $13. There are Korean peaches that sell for as high as $10 for two pieces.
Street food and fast food is popular in Korea, and you will find many vendors offering a wide range of Korean snacks. Some of them include spicy rice cakes, fish ball soup, dumplings, fried food, kimchi, pancakes with black syrup, and Korean sausages. The prices of these snacks range from below $1 to as much as $3 per piece.
The international cuisine scene in Geoje actively attends to the foreign presence in the area. You’ll find restaurants specializing in Indian, Chinese, German, Italian, American, and even Vietnamese cuisines.
Their services do not come cheap, but they continue to provide great value for a lot of foreigners. You can expect to spend nothing less than $50 at some of these establishments. Big fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, etc., are scattered all over the city. A cheeseburger would typically cost around $1.70, while a meal would cost $5.70.
Transportation in Geoje
The road network in Geoje is very impressive, as are many road networks in Korea generally. For example, there is a bridge that connects the island to the mainland. This bridge makes commuting really easy. Cars, buses and other kinds of vehicles can go through this bridge to the city’s center and a few other places.
As a result, transportation is cheaper than it would typically be. You can also move by train as many teachers do, especially those that teach in Seoul and have to travel for at least one hour to reach their places of employment. A one-way ticket in a local transport costs $1. You can also opt for a taxi.
The normal tariff for taxis is $2.80, but a 1km journey would cost $1.30. If you’ll have to move around a lot, you might want to consider buying a car or importing your old one from your home country. If you have a car already, gasoline costs around $1.4 per liter. You can also ride a bike if you do not need to go long distances.
Many expats do that. Car rentals are yet another option. One thing you should note, though is that traffic is a big deal in Korea. Therefore, traffic accidents happen a little more often than you might like. You need to stay alert to your surroundings in case anything happens.
Health in Geoje
First things first, get health insurance. As a legal permanent resident of Geoje, you’ll be issued an Alien Resident Card with which you’ll apply for Korean medical insurance. Because most expats are employed by the shipyards, a lot of their families are covered by company-based medical insurance.
With medical insurance, therefore, you’ll have less to worry about when you need to see a doctor. The medical facilities and personnel are of reputable standard and delivery.
Education in Geoje
The only international school in Geoje was established by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering in 1987. It was formally called Daewoo Foreign School but had its name changed to Okpo International School. Their goal was to provide a high-quality learning environment for the children of their foreign employees.
The school only provides primary education. Upon graduation, they can decide to continue their secondary education in Busan. One year in Okpo International School would cost at least $20,000 per year.
Entertainment and Leisure in Geoje
One seat in the cinema costs around $10, but then, there are so many other things you could do to let off steam! To give an accurate account of the things you could do for your entertainment and leisure in Geoje, we’ll have to make a list of some of the most interesting things you can do in Geoje.
Top Attractions in Geoje
The recreational activities available in Geoje cover a broad range of possibilities, from outdoor activities to dining experiences, private tours, and exploring nature and the parks. This list barely covers the fun things you could do in that city, but it could give you a headstart.
The Windy Hill
One reason why Windy Hill is popular among tourists is because the sight has been used in many famous Korean movies. There is a windmill atop the hill, and it is surrounded by grass. It also overlooks the sea, which is why it gets really windy. It makes for a great Instagram post, especially when you capture the windmill in the background.
Oedo Paradise Island
Oedo is one of the many islands in Geoje, but it is special because it was turned into a western-styled botanical garden by a couple in 1969. Today, this botanical garden is home to over 3,000 plant species, well-manicured flowers, and beautiful sculptures. It is considered Geoje’s busiest tourist attraction. You can check out the Cactus Garden, Flower Garden, or the Stairway to Heaven when you visit the island.
The Geoje POW (Prisoners of War) Camp
This camp is a very important part of Geoje’s and Korea’s history. It was on that site that General Douglas MacArthur placed prisoners of the 1950-1953 Korean War.
There are video rooms and exhibition walls that would help you see and feel what the prisoners felt when they were being abused, tortured, and executed. Among the exhibition are also relics of the war tanks, trucks, and a few others.
This is one of Geoje’s most beautiful beaches, and it is for a good reason. The beach is situated in Gujora island, a small island filled with beautiful green mountains, clear air, and a clean, blue sea. There are no commercial activities on this beach; therefore, you can stroll, sunbathe, and even fish in serene, unperturbed scenery.
40 years ago, a beautiful couple decided to plant daffodils on this island, and today, it is a major show-stopper. It has been named one of Geoje’s eight scenic places, but tourists claim that Gonggoji looks best in March.
The best news is that although tourists love to visit this site, entry is free. But, of course, you can purchase a daffodil to help the couple sponsor their horticultural hobby. It is also a great place for hiking or walking.
Hakdong Pebble Beaches
You might be used to your legs sinking in the sand when you go to the beach, but Geoje island will not give you that pleasure. Instead, you’ll find certain beaches that are covered entirely by pebbles. One of the most famous pebble peaches is the Hakdong Pebble beach. It might not be the most comfortable, but it’s a breathtaking sight regardless.
If you have more than enough cash to spare, you can book private tours of Geoje’s sights and sounds for anything from $50 to $500. The price depends on the places you choose to go and the activities you engage in.
Traveling to Geoje as an Expat
Geoje’s connection to tourism makes it relatively easier to enter. As a foreigner, you can only stay in Geoje for a limited period of 90 days. Anything longer than that is considered a long-term stay and would require a Permanent Residency card.
If you’re traveling for work, you can access the special work visa the expats who work for the shipyards use. It’s called the D9 visa.
Regardless, ensure you contact the Korean Immigration office closest to you to process your application.
As of today’s world, the benefits of going to Geoje cannot be overemphasized. There are many qualities that make Geoje a great place to relocate or retire to. If you do decide to make that move, you’ll surely not regret it.