Tips For Moving To Korea

Moving to another country is a big decision and can be scary–but also very exciting! If you’ve already gotten a teaching job and are getting ready to leave, here are some of our practical tips for moving to Korea.

moving to Korea

“Blue Suitcase.” Photo by Drew Coffman

Before The Big Move:

1.) Find out what your school will provide for you and plan accordingly–for instance, most apartments are furnished, but they probably won’t have things like towels and bedding. Decide beforehand if you want to purchase these items in Korea or bring some from home. Personally we find the quality of the towels and bedding here to be low for the price–so it might be nice to bring some softer sheets and towels from home.

Click here to visit The Arrival Store
If you don’t feel like packing heavy or bulky things from home (like sheets, towels, chargers, etc.), another great option is The Arrival Store. The Arrival Store was founded by former ESL teachers in Korea and they have everything you might need or want to make your life in Korea more comfortable, for much less than you’d pay for Western-style items in Korean shops. They’ll ship the items to your home (either to your home country or to your home in Korea), your school, or even to the airport so you can collect them upon arrival. Just don’t be like us and forget your items at the airport…but even if you do, they’ll simply re-ship the package!

2.) Do your research about the voltage and power differences between Korea and your home country. The standard voltage in Korea is 220 volts and the outlet has two round holes. If this is different from your home country, plan on buying and/or bringing voltage converters that will work with your electronics (such as laptops, xbox’s, power toothbrushes and ipod chargers). Even with voltage converters things like hairdryers and straighteners tend to burn out quickly, so personally, we think it’s better to just buy those items once in Korea.

3.) Get an international drivers license. This isn’t a must-do, but it is nice to have the ability to rent a car in Korea if needed. Simply visit AAA, show your current drivers license, pay $10, and be legally licensed to drive in over 150 countries for one year!

4.) Pack a variety of clothing suitable for all seasons. The winters in Korea are very cold, and the summers are very hot. Make sure you have a few items for each season! Also, if you are a larger size (height or weight wise) or have larger feet, make sure to bring plenty of shoes, socks, pants, underwear and bras, as many of those items run a bit on the smaller side in Korea.

5.) Bring items from home that are hard to find in Korea. Some items that are harder to find that you might want to bring from home include:

  • Over-the-counter and prescription medications: the brands here may be different from what you are used to or like to use, so if you are attached to a certain brand of medication stock up before you get to Korea!
  • Cosmetics and toiletries (if you are attached to specific brands): Korea is the land of cosmetics, but if you love certain brands, do some research beforehand to see if you can get it once in Korea. If not, stock up beforehand! Many cosmetics (face washes, lotions) are oil-based here rather than water-based, so if that is going to be a problem for you, you may want to bring your own.
  • Spices and sauces: You can find just about any spice or sauce in Korea, but many of the imported items are quite expensive. If you love to cook, you may want to bring a few bottles of your own favorite spices, or stock up on a few things from The Arrival Store once in Korea.

6.) Learn the Korean alphabet! This sounds a lot harder than it really is–Korean only uses 24 characters and is a phonetic language, so once you memorize the characters, you’ll be able to read and sound out signs and menus, which is extremely helpful when adjusting to life in Korea. Check out this website to help you get started.

7.) Learn some simple Korean phrases. Learning to say hello, goodbye, thank-you, bathroom, yes and no will make your life much easier. Most guidebooks will include these and other simple phrases. Check out this website to help you get started.

We hope this helps you feel more prepared for your move to Korea. Feel free to contact us if you have any more questions or comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Click here to visit The Arrival Store

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13 Responses to “Tips For Moving To Korea”

  1. Ryan September 26, 2012 at 9:38 am #

    If you’re more of a visual learner, this downloadable Korean alphabet chart is pretty helpful.

    http://www.speakoutkorean.com/free-korean-alphabet-chart/
    Ryan recently posted…How to Choose Korean Learning SoftwareMy Profile

  2. Suzee March 19, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

    Hi, this is a pretty stupid question but, when you say that the apartments are furnished, does this mean with a proper bed or with a Korean style mat? I ask because you say it’s a good idea to maybe bring or buy your own sheets but I’d need to know if I need sheets for a bed or for a mat.

    • Andrea March 19, 2015 at 3:44 pm #

      Hi Suzee — We (and everyone else we knew there) got apartments with beds and bedding. I don’t know that that’s 100% true of all places though, so you might just ask your recruiter. However, western style beds are more popular in Korea overall now than the mats, I think only older or more traditional people use the mats in Korea anymore! At least that was the impression I got. Hope that helps!

  3. Jason K September 28, 2015 at 4:56 am #

    While I’m not moving to Korea (at least not right now :)), I think your article is pretty awesome and accurate. Helping people unconditionally is a quality I admire in people. I find that there are a lot of internet trolls and people like you are rare. Thank you for existing and being there for so many people that need a helping hand!

    • Andrea September 28, 2015 at 2:13 pm #

      Thank you so much for your nice words! I love answering people’s questions about moving to Korea, it’s such a great life experience and I encourage anyone who is considering it to give it a go!

    • Andrea November 4, 2015 at 9:55 am #

      Wow, yah. They definitely used my content, and barely changed the wording. This article was written in 2012 and theirs was written in 2015. Thank you for pointing this out to me — I’ve emailed them and asked them to properly credit me if they’re going to use so much of my content word for word. I really appreciate the heads up!

      • Ricky November 4, 2015 at 4:13 pm #

        Hi,

        I got your comments on my article and have taken it down until I can make the appropriate changes to it. I apologise for the lack of credit given and if sufficient changes can’t be made, I will remove my article entirely.

        Sorry again.

        Ricky

        • Andrea November 4, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

          Hi Ricky — thanks for your speedy reply! I really don’t want you to have to take the post down. If you just add a small notation somewhere crediting me I’d be happy with that. I appreciate your wanting to share the info, moving to a new country is a big deal and people need all the info they can get!

  4. Jodi Tran March 31, 2016 at 5:15 am #

    The alphabet seems really difficult! I have just opened the link from your post and it is pretty crazy! Anyway I am stubborn enough and I will try until I learn it! I really love South Korea and I have the idea of moving there for few years in the future! Thanks for sharing!

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