Living in South Korea Expat Guide

Living in South Korea expat guide – that will be the topic of today’s article.

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The best time to consider your financial situation is when you are moving to a new country.


City view from Namsan Park, Seoul, South Korea

Since the Korean War, this country has emerged as one of the more politically and economically free nations. It’s home to companies like Samsung, Hyundai, and many others, to mention a few. South Korea’s economy has been growing for years, and this has become a model for other countries in Asia.

Before beginning your life in Korea, it’s essential to prepare for what’s to come. And not just going to the country without preparing. Like everywhere else, South Korea definitely has its pros and cons, and life in this country may be quite different for a foreigner than it would be for a citizen.

However, many expats would love to opt to go to South Korea for many different reasons. As we already detailed in our post on moving to South Korea expat guide, the key pros and cons of living in this country can be different. That’s why you’ve landed on the right platform to know more!

If you’re looking to relocate to South Korea permanently, you must know the living procedures. This country, in no doubt, is a fascinating country in which to live, and study is relatively easy. In fact, the government offers expats a good standard of living at a reasonable price level as of 2021.

Meanwhile, some living expenses such as housing and food may be more expensive than in your home country.  Not to worry, we’ve got you covered in this article. Our foremost priority is to walk you through the ultimate guide of living in South Korea. Does that sound interesting? Read further to know more!

Living Condition Facts in South Korea The cost of living in South Korea is generally considered to be quite high.  On the other hand, expatriates should be aware that prices do vary significantly. Sometimes, it varies according to location, size, and the larger cities have much high property prices. Without further ado, let’s walk you through these facts.

Life Expectancy Range

It’s no doubt that the life expectancy rate in South Korea is one of the highest in the world. This means the country has a benefit to having free, universal healthcare coverage. Aside from this fact, Koreans’ diets consist of steam-cooked rice, meats, vegetables, and more, constituting a long and healthy life.

Credit Card Usage

Among the countries globally, South Korea remains the lead when it comes to credit card transactions. Additionally, it’s illegal for businesses in this country to refuse credit cards, even for a smaller purchase. With these interesting facts, the country has created a bustling tourism and shopping industry.

High Death Rate

Surprisingly, the suicide rate in South Korea is on the rise.  It is believed that this high death rate is due to long work hours and stress in the workplace.  While the country has taken preventative measures to combat such a tragic statistic, the country legislature continues to update and improve its mental Health Act.

Unemployment in South Korea

While the country’s economy is strong, youth still find it challenging to find a job. Also, many smaller businesses are having trouble cementing themselves into Korean society because of the large companies. With research, more than 11 percent of young people between the age of 15 and 29 find it hard to get a lucrative job in the country.

Climatic Change

To learn more about climate change, the country’s environmental research institute has begun working with the environmental protection agency. Besides, these organizations have focused on monitoring air quality and how climate change has led to respiratory illnesses.

Violence Rates

When it comes to low violence rates, South Korea is among the leaders. They have great respect for their rule of law, and the citizens also have a lot of respect for the rule of the society and the court. So, if you’re moving to this country, it would be better to stay calm and not cause violence to avoid deportation.

Overcrowded Prisons

It’s not funny how South Korea’s prisons became the most overcrowded prisons in the world. By estimation, the country exceeds the standard amount of prisoners by 21.8 percent while averaging more than 2,000 people per prison. It’s not because of the crime rate, but the issue has been linked to the rise of poverty-induced crimes and lack of government funding for prisons.

Home to Largest Drinks

It may not come as exactly what you think South Korea is home to the largest drinks in the world. Of course, no! But it’s home to the largest drinks in Asia.  In fact, many are surprised that the country was listed as one of the top drinkers in Asia by far. Meanwhile, it can be rooted in their tradition and culture.

Guys Own Valentines Day

Just when you thought that valentine’s day is for women, you’ll be amazed to see a different culture in South Korea. The most interesting fact about this country is that Valentine’s Day is solely when males receive chocolates from females, while the females receive sweets on a white Day.

Medical Tourism Vacation

South Korea is a popular destination for medical tourism, especially for cosmetic surgery. If you’re craving plastic surgery, this is the right country to visit. Also, people come from different countries to have their looks enhanced during their visitation to South Korea.

Pros and Cons of Living in South Korea

Living in South Korea Expat Guide

While South Korea is not the most common choice for expats compared to other nearby Asian countries, there are endless benefits. If you’ve been reading our blog, you’ll understand what it takes to relocate to the country. Now, let’s take a look at the Pros of living in South Korea.

Healthcare Facilities

The healthcare facilities in South Korea are very affordable and highly developed. Besides, the citizens normally go to the hospital even for minor symptoms. Also, if you work in South Korea, it is mandatory to have a full body check every two years, usually paid by the company.

Excellent Transportation Network

Many people own a car in South Korea, but they are really cheap and convenient. They have a highly developed speed train network, and it’s rare to see a bus, train, or subway be late in South Korea. Perhaps, the first time you’ll enjoy the country is by exploring the city with the citizens.

Food and Culture

Since its inception, food has been the major center of Korean culture. The country’s food includes dishes based on soy sauce, toasted sesame seed oil, and many others, to mention a few. Even after 10 years, you may discover new dishes that taste completely different from what you’re used to in the country.

Home to Imported Goods

You’ll nearly find imported foods from all over the country in South Korea.  In other news, foods are imported from UK, New Zealand, Australia, America,  and many others, to mention a  few. Also, don’t be surprised to see new food but the problem is that they can be expensive.

A Friendly Community

In this country, you’ll enjoy a tight-knit expat community. In fact, the locals will welcome you in such a way that you’ll feel overwhelmed. On the other news, everybody knows everybody, and everybody calls you a friend even if they don’t know you. Also, you can counts on group gatherings for western holidays.

World-class Convenient Stores

In South Korea, you don’t need to walk very far to get what you want. Many convenient stores operate daily. Since drinking is legal in the country, you can even place your seating outside of the stores to eat and enjoy your meal. And these specials are amazing when it comes to the end of the month/year due to different bonus offers.

Strict Recycling

There are strict regulations regarding waste disposal in South Korea, and when you’re living in a country without a proper recycling process, you could be fined. Here, recycling includes separating your food waste, papers, and glass bottles into a specific colored bag.


Considered As an Expensive Nation

If you want to live in South Korea, you should expect a high cost of living. This is why we advise nearly all our emigrants who would love to relocate to South Korea to be financially buoyant. Rental costs are high, foodstuffs can be price-tiring, and exploring the cities could be pretty expensive. Therefore, ensure you do plenty of research before you make your move to this country.

Gender Inequality in SK

 Be prepared to be faced with gender inequality in South Korea. Things continue to improve with feminism becoming more accepted in recent times. More so, you can experience some drawbacks as a foreigner. This is because; there’s more staring than what you’re used to in your home country.

Cost of Housing and Spending

The average apartment in South Korea can make you quit living in the country. So, if you opt for having a more comfortable lifestyle, you should plan and consider bringing enough funds while enjoying your stay in South Korea. Meanwhile, the majority of the attractions are full of activities, so prepare to spend.

Jobs and Employment opportunity in South Korea

Many bloggers will tell you that one of the easiest ways to move to South Korea is through jobs and employments. The truth is, that’s the best option for expats. Meanwhile, having a job doesn’t only guarantee your visa, but it helps many foreigners integrate into the country and start meeting locals.

For native Koreans, the South Korean job market has been on the low compare to recent years. While the country boasts Asia’s fourth-largest economy, it still struggles to find adequate placement for a fast becoming overqualified workforce for the available jobs.

However, many citizens in South Korea tend to enter a job and stay with the company until they retire. Nowadays, they struggle to enter the market and turn to international opportunities in nearby countries such as Japan, China, and even the United States.

Therefore, expats, on the other hand, will have a bit easier time securing a lucrative job in the country. Foreigners are not only being welcomed into the job market to add and improve relations but for the need to speak languages other than Korean. Let’s quickly talk about how to get jobs in South Korea.

How Foreigners Can Get a Job in South Korea

With the country’s mixture of beautiful coastlines and wonderful cosmopolitan cities, South Korea is becoming an increasingly popular destination for expats. If you’re one of the many people that’d love to relocate to this country, we’ve got you covered on the steps you need that’d help you land the perfect job.

Online Job Search

If you’re looking to get a job before you travel to South Korea, there are many job boards to use. Some of the job boards include; JobKorea, Saramin, PeopleNJob, and many others, to mention a few. In addition to these, you can also use different job search sites such as Craigslist and LinkedIn.

Korean Newspapers

While this job board method seems older than other countries, there are jobs often published in newspapers. You can also get jobs on different online websites or being printed on physical paper. Some of the South Korean newspaper to check out for includes The Korea Herald, The Korea Times, The Seoul Times, and many others to mention a few.

Job Fair Board

South Korea hosts different job fairs that specifically target emigrants. They are usually split into two different categories, which are; job fairs for international students and job fairs for international residents. To find the dates of these South Korean fairs, visit the Seouljobfair for more information.

Job Opportunities for Foreigners

As aforementioned, one of the greatest opportunities for expats wanting to relocate to this country is by teaching English. For newcomers, teaching English does not require extensive knowledge of Korean, and some schools even prefer their students to be forced to learn and speak the English language.

In addition to teaching English, other industries like general office administration, IT, manufacturing, Health, and many others in South Korea will find many opportunities teaching, learning, and speaking in the English language aside from the country’s native language.

Minimum Wage and Average Salary in South Korea

Throughout the expats community, South Korea has a reputation for having a high salary. That’s why you’ll see many emigrants wanting to relocate to this country.  Meanwhile, this reputation comes largely from foreign English teachers being given expat packages to teach the language in the country.

The average salary in this country as of 2021 is amounting to 44,812,260 KRW per year. Besides, in Seoul, the average salary is 65,431,200 KRW. Now, what is a good salary in South Korea? Of course, this depends on where you decide to live in the peninsular country. Below is an average salary chart in South Korea.

Average Salary for a family of Four

City (SK)KRW (2021)USD (2021)
Jeju island6,205,0005,500

Average Salary for a Single Expat

City (SK)KRW (2021)USD (2021)
Jeju island850,000500

Most In-Demand Jobs in South Korea

Expats who work in the following fields will find the greatest opportunities to enjoy what it feels like to relocate to the country. Some of the most in-demand jobs in this country are; Editor/content writer, sales and marketing, public relations, securities analyst, programmers, English teachers, and many more.

Self-Employment in South Korea

The majority of self-employment in South Korea is an option for many expats. Moreover, the country has many handfuls of self-employment visas for foreigners to bring their business ventures to the Land of Morning Calm. While moving to this country may be tough, self-employed people are so common.

Tips for Finding Freelance Work

As mentioned earlier, one way to search for employment opportunities in South Korea is to look online. As a hyper-modern society, this country relies on technology for its day-to-day needs, including job finding. Some of the best sites to search for freelance works in South Korea are; Knong, Soomgo, Upwork, Wishlet, and many others, to mention a few.

As with working for a traditional company in South Korea, it is best to understand Korean to work as a freelancer in the country. You do not need to be fluent, but you must have a basic knowledge of the language. This will even boost your hiring chances as you will be able to communicate with more potential clients.

Self-Employment Jobs in South Korea

Self-employed expats who work in the tech industry or other computer-related professions will find many freelance opportunities in the country. In contrast to IT work, translation work also plays an important role. Meanwhile, those interested in the gaming industry or innovative design will be especially sought after. That’s why the country is still gaining international recognition.

Bilingual expats will also find it easy to get jobs in South Korea. Some of the popular self-employment jobs in the country are; UX designer, content writer, graphic designer, web developer, and many others, to mention a few.

Business Culture and Etiquettes in South Korea

Whether you’re moving to South Korea for work or you want to enjoy your summer vacation, you must know the business etiquette. However, research made it known that the country sees more foreigners, but the country is still deeply rooted in their traditions of respect.

Hierarchy in South Korea

As mentioned above, it is essential to establish a hierarchy from the first time you visit your workplace. The citizens have great respect for seniority, both in age and profession, and you must also abide by this tradition even if you’re hearing it for the first time.

Meeting in South Korea

While in South Korea, don’t be surprised to see citizens scheduling meetings a few weeks in advance. That being said, you shouldn’t be surprised if the meeting was canceled a few minutes to start. It’s not meant to be rude, but that’s their culture indicating that other colleagues are not ready to have a meeting.

Punctuality at Work

Unlike other countries in Asia, punctuality is seen as a sign of respect in South Korea. This means you should always arrive at your workplace 10 to 15 minutes early. If you know or suspect that you may probably come late, you should make the necessary move to alert those in the meeting.

Fashion Sense (Dress Code)

In South Korea, culture leans towards the dress code in your workplace. Men are normally seen wearing a white button-up shirt with dark suits while the women always put on darker colors aiming for business skirts, suits or suits.

Social Security and Work Benefits

When it comes to the social security and work benefits in South Korea, you should know that it operates similarly to what is done in many other countries. Not to worry, the SSN (Social Security Number) is a 13-digit number that all residents are required to have, indicating their credentials.

Paternity and Maternity Leave in South Korea

Well, if you ask me how long paternity and maternity leave in South Korea is, I will tell you that it’s up to 90 days, depending on your work ethic. On the other hand, this leave could be split with at least 45 days being used for birth leave while the Unemployment Insurance Fund funds other days.

Round-Up Session

While we know that South Korea is relatively a small country, it’s one of the biggest economies in the world.  After China and Japan, South Korea is among the biggest in Asia. It’s home to one of the world’s best airports, and you can also find the busiest air route on Earth in the country.


While the level of tension that South Korea’s immigration places on emigrants are high, it remains one of the best destinations for expat. Korean food is incredibly spicy, and you can enjoy different outdoor activities. Nonetheless, if you’re planning to relocate to this country, refer to this guide to know better.

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