As I write this, I only have 3.5 weeks left in South Korea — some days, I can’t even believe it! I’ve realized that soon my life is going to be very different again. I’ve been living in Korea for two years and have gotten used to how life is here! I know there’s a lot that I’m going to miss, so I thought it’d be fun to think about the things I will miss about living in South Korea. Here we go….
Easy and Affordable Transportation
Getting around South Korea is a breeze! Even when I lived in the rural countryside last year, there were regular buses going to other towns and the bigger cities. Now that I’m in Yeosu, I can easily take a bus, train, cab, and if I really wanted to — I could fly domestic out of Yeosu Airport. Having the option to use convenient and affordable transportation makes it easier than ever to plan a weekend getaway within the country. I feel lucky to have been able to do a lot of traveling to other parts of Korea.
Oh, did I mention a cab ride starts at only $2.50?
Not Needing a Car
To go along with the easy and abundant transportation, I have loved not needing my car! There have been a few times where I really miss the freedom of being able to hop in my car whenever I want, but it really has been great to rely on walking and public transportation. The city where I’m from back home had a really lousy transportation system, so it was almost a must to own a car — especially if you worked far from where you lived.
Kindness and Generosity
There are so many kind and generous people in South Korea. It’s common to be given freebies when you’re out to eat or shopping (or even when you don’t buy anything at all). I’ve noticed the kindness of strangers smiling or checking up on me during my time here. I’ve also been lucky to have some very generous fellow co-workers who went above and beyond to make me feel comfortable during my time here — especially my first year. This is something that will always stick with me, well after I leave.
Another one of the things I will miss about South Korea is the beauty. I think I really learned to appreciate nature more here as I spent my first year living incredibly rural. I was surrounded by mountains and fields. This year, I live in a small coastal city. I’ve enjoyed so many gorgeous views, whether it was sitting out in my backyard, hiking to the top of a mountain, or sitting by the beach.
Feeling Safe Wherever I Go
I feel safe when wandering around South Korea. There’s a lot of places in this world where most people (especially women) wouldn’t feel comfortable wandering around alone — especially at night. In Korea, I feel comfortable doing this. Murder and other crime rates are very low compared to other countries.
I’m not saying crime doesn’t exist in Korea — but it’s not as common as other parts of the world. In addition, if I were to leave a cell phone or wallet behind at a bus station, for example, it would likely be returned to me later that day. That’s something I would never imagine happening back in the US.
Affordable Dining Options
In South Korea, it’s so affordable to eat out at a restaurant! You can easily eat a full meal for 10,000 won (currently $9 USD) per person — and often times even less. If you love Korean food, you’ll enjoy trying so many meals here at a low cost. I’ve found in some cases, it’s cheaper for my husband and I to dine out together than it is to buy and prepare certain meals. Having been a waitress back home, it took some adjusting to the no-tipping culture here in Korea — but this also makes dining out so much more affordable. I plan to eat in a lot more back home.
This may sound silly — but man, I’m going to miss ondol (floor) heating. This was one of my favorite things about winter in South Korea. The ondol heating instantly heated up both apartments that I lived in — and cheaply! In the morning, if I was really not feeling waking up — the floor heating lifted my spirits.
Low Bills and Free Rent
As a teacher in South Korea, one of the big perks is provided accommodation. You don’t get to choose and the apartments are quite tiny compared to the US, but it’s so so so worth it! Back in the US, my husband and I were paying $1200 USD for a 2 bedroom apartment. Here, we had no rental costs! Talk about more of an ability to save. In addition, bills are incredibly low. Depending on the cell phone plan you choose — you may only pay $35-$40 a month for data, texts, and calls. My monthly home utility bills have been less than $40 a month the last few months — even running my air conditioner a lot. I’ve had it so easy with these low bills and free rent — and I’m SO going to miss it.
So many things have much more of a “cute factor” in Korea. It’s common to see cute characters or designs on your drinks, snacks, clothes — you name it. At first I thought this was a bit strange — especially seeing grown adults with cartoons and other cutesy things — but now I find this to be so fun! I know that I’ll miss seeing so many cute things when I’m back home — but at least I’ll have my cute cats to look at! 🙂
Heated Toilet Seats
Come on — that one made you smile! 🙂 I mean really, what’s not to love about a heated toilet seat. These can be found all over Korea — and it’s something that I’m sure I’ll miss — especially during the colder months back home!
These two years have been full of adventure. I’ve learned a lot about myself, my interests, and Korea — as well as the world around me. I hope you enjoyed my list of 10 things I will miss about living in South Korea. If ever given the opportunity, I recommend visiting this country!