I’ve received a number of questions asking ‘where should I live?’. Sure, it’s kind of fun thinking about Jeonju vs. Tongyeong, but the possible permutations are endless. If you’ve already passed the ‘Should I teach English in Korea?‘ quiz, now it’s time to figure out where you should go.
Image credit: Wikipedia
1. Where are you living right now?
A: a pretty small city / a rural area
B: close enough to a bigger city
C: a medium-sized city
D: a downtown / central business area, or the big city
2. What do you think of where you’re living right now?
A: I like the peace and quiet – it’s homey here
B: It’s fine, but I’m usually traveling to a bigger area
C: There’s plenty going on – it’s not too big or too small
D: There’s only one convenience store this block? Get me out of here!
3. Thursday night. You’re out with friends. What are you doing?
A: Catching a minor league baseball game or local theater production
B: Eating out or relaxing before the weekend – it’ll be a good one!
C: Checking out a new restaurant that just opened up.
D: Thursdays mean cheap beers and a bar that’s open until 2am!
4. What do you think of public transportation?
A: It’s fine, but I prefer driving.
B: I don’t mind long bus / train rides.
C: It’s the only way to get around.
D: Meh – it’s fine. I’m used to it or I’ll get used to it.
5. How much ‘new’ can you handle?
A: I can handle it, but I prefer it when things don’t change that much.
B: I like it, but I still like having a few things stay the same.
C: About half ‘new’ and half ‘stable’ is a good mix for me.
D: I’m used to life changing from one day to the next.
6. When you want to go exploring, what form of transportation would you rather take?
A: my feet
B: a bike
C: a bus
D: a subway
7. What’s your idea of an exotic dinner you’ll actually try?
A: soybean paste stew (doenjang jjigae)
B: chicken feet (dak bal)
C: dog meat soup (boshintang)
D: live octopus (sannakji)
8. What do you most hope to experience while in Korea?
A: The traditional lifestyle
B: The new-fangled technology
D: The nightlife!
9. When it comes to being in the center of things, you say…
A: That’s ok, actually – thanks, but no thanks.
B: Not all the time, but it’s nice to come and go.
C: Not the VERY center, but certainly not on the edge.
D: Of course – where else would I want to be?
10. When you’re ready for some Western food, how far are you willing to go for it?
A: I’ll travel for it, but I don’t think I’ll want it very often
B: I’d like some to be close, but I don’t think I’ll go very often
C: Not far – I’d prefer to be close to some Western food
D: I need variety, people – and it had better be close!
Don’t scroll down until you’ve answered all the questions…
Mostly A’s: a small Korean city – either you’re used to a smaller city, or the bigger city might feel a little overwhelming. Look for jobs in places like Gangneung, Andong, Jeonju, Chuncheon, Gyeongju, Wonju, Jeju city, Seogwipo, and so on. These are all smaller cities (defined here as less than 1,000,000 people), but still offer plenty to see and plenty of jobs. There are dozens of other options, of course, but you begin to run the risk of being the only foreigner around.
Mostly B’s: a Seoul suburb may be in your future! You’re close enough to the big city, but far enough away that the traffic and density don’t bother you. Places like Ilsan, Pyeongtaek, Suwon, Bundang, Dongtan, Bucheon, Songtan and Osan are all within an hour of Seoul proper, and all have their own local flavor.
Mostly C’s: a medium Korean city – you’re a bit too cosmopolitan to be away from it all. There’s enough people around to blend in, although being a foreigner means you’ll still stick out a bit. Check out places like Daegu, Incheon, Daejeon, Busan, Ulsan, and Gwangju. All of these have at least a decent local bus system. more than a million people, and (except for Ulsan) have subway systems.
Mostly D’s: Seoul, baby! For better or worse, you need the big city, and the big city might even need you. There’s enough that only happens in Seoul, and the foreigners are more plentiful here. It’s easy to blend in, even as a foreigner, and the nightlife is unparalleled. Don’t settle for a Seoul suburb unless you want an exercise in frustration, and don’t waste time looking elsewhere.