10 tricks to lower your cost of living / ways to save in Korea
Have you heard of people who have saved around $1000 per month, teaching in Korea? Sounds ridiculous right? They must be the ones spending all their time, sulking in their apartments and not ever eat an Ice cream from Baskin n Robins?
Not true… There are ways to save, without living the lifestyle of a hermit, but it all depends on your priorities – Follow these 10 tricks to lower your cost of living:
Implement what we’ve done here:
How to lower the expenses:
Phone bills – Use skype to phone abroad
Transportation – Bus/subway vs cab
Travel / weekend trips – free places / pretty cheap anyway
Water – water purifier instead of watered bottles
Food – Not foreign food 7 days a week, bulk,
Electronics – don’t need newest vacuums / ipods,…
Benefits – no housing, airfare
Reasons you should live abroad in your 20s
– What do you have to lose? No house / husband / children (nothing to hold u back)
– Brain is take in new information – Learn a foreign language / make new type of food(Gain skill)
– Body is active (Metabolism won’t get any faster), adventurous
– Adaptable to environment, open to different ways of life, broaden mind
– More outgoing to meet people / networking
– Get to know yourself
– Great stories
– CV, builds career path
– Help to figure out what you really want from life
You can – take a chance!
Advantages – teaching in korea
5 Types of people who move abroad
Over the years, we’ve seen a lot of expats moving to South Korea and China, and by working with them, amongst others teachers, co-workers, acquaintances and friends, we’ve boiled it down to 5 types of people who generally move abroad.
1.The Culture Freak / The Wanna-bee
Kpop, hangul, Korean movies and slang… He’ll be able to tell you about it all. He’s the one who started studying Korean, before he even knew whether he would ever set foot on the Korea Peninsula , and he has seen every YouTube video about it.
Why teach abroad:
If you have a passion for the country, its cultures and traditions, why would you not go? You’ve seen it all already on the web, so you know all the reasons why you need to go. What are you waiting for?
2. The Traveler
The guy with the list – Not your average To-Do list: This list includes everything that haven’t been mentioned by Trip Advisor and more. This is the guy who would love to see the world and is able to live out of a suitcase. It’s the person who has friends all over the world and enjoy making new connections and trying new things. It is possible that he already knows people in Korea, or that he is interested in traveling to South East Asia.
Why teach abroad
With Japan, Thailand, and China so close, who wouldn’t want to go? This is the ultimate place to teach at, and still be able to visit South East Asia on a budget. You can live the adventure you’ve always dreamed about, you’ll see a different part of the world and you’ll be able to expand your horizons, and fill that passport of yours.
3. The University student
This is the person who just finished college. Excess money is a foreign concept, and the amount of debt is too much to even mention. He does not have work experience in “The Real world”
Why teach abroad
Gaining international teaching experience will be an asset in your future career. This is a great way to set your foot in the door, and still get paid a pretty decent income. Korea is one of the higher paying Asian countries, and the cost of living is quite low. You’ll be able to save anything from $1 – $1000, depending on your spending habits. It is possible to save a lot, without living the lifestyle of a hermit.
4. The Opportunist
Gaining international experience – That’s the dream. He is interested in building an international community of contacts and to enhance his resume with skills and abilities.
Why teach abroad
To work for multinational companies, will create a good career prospective. You’ll be able to expand your skill set and the ability to adapt to different workplaces. Korea will ensure that you are exposed to being flexible, developing communication skills on a different level and being adaptable to circumstances. The world will become your Teacher.
5. The Runaway
He is the one who is unhappy with his life at home. He feels stagnant and might be in a dead-end job. There’s a lack of opportunities at home; It’s a location burnout.
Why teach abroad
By teaching abroad, you’ll be able to create a life for yourself in another country. You don’t need to carry your past with you; you can recreate yourself. Be whoever you’ve always wanted to be… That doesn’t mean that you’re allowed to change your name on your passport though…
You might find better career opportunities, than back home, but ultimately, going abroad makes you more open minded and this might change your perspective of home in a year of two.
When you arrive in Korea, you will quickly realize the value of having a smart phone. It will help you stay in touch with friends and document your daily adventures (selfies heeey!), it will help you navigate your way around the country and look up info about local restaurants. Here are 10 apps you don’t want to miss while you’re teaching English in South Korea!
Not sure how to reach your destination? This app provides you with the latest subway maps for Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Daejeon, and Gwangju.
2. Gyeonggi-do Bus Map for Android
Access real-time bus route information in the Gyeonggi, Seoul and Incheon areas. Search for the the closet bus-stops, look up specific bus routes, or map your own trip. The times of arrival are pretty accurate, too !
What better way to see the country than to listen to those who know? This app offers you the opportunity to really experience Korea.
For those who don’t already know, Naver is to Korea what Google is to North America. Naver Maps is like Google Maps. No wi-fi or data where you’re going? No problem! You can download the map beforehand.
5. Hidden Camera for Android
You’ll quickly notice the shutter sound your phone makes whenever you take a picture. Annoying, right? Oddly enough, that sound cannot be switched off. Good news – this app will allow you to snap a pic of your best friend sleeping on the shoulder of an ajumma on the subway… and your phone won’t make a peep!
Seriously, how did the world ever function before Skype?
This app is MAGIC. You can speak into it, type a word, or take a picture of something… and boom = translation.
When you’re booking flights for epic vacations during your time off, this app will come in handy. Kayak helps you search flights from a handful of airlines to get the best deals!
9. CGV for Android
Movie times at your local theater! This app is currently in Korean only, so ask someone to help you out. If it’s not an English movie, make sure there are English subtitles! You don’t want to be end up watching a Spanish movie with Korean subtitles when you are a monolingual English speaker… and yes, those movies exist in Korea. You’ve been warned.
Korea’s most popular texting and group-texting app. You can add friends from all around the world (up to five friends per chat at once) — for free!
So there you have it – a quick guide to getting the best smart phone apps in Korea. If you are moving soon and are wondering about getting a phone, the team at The Arrival Store can help get you set up!
Want to learn more about communication in Korea? CLICK HERE!
Gift-giving in Korea is a strong tradition in Korean culture. If you ever invite Korean friends to your home, you’ll notice that they will always bring you some fruit, dessert, a drink, or sometimes all of the above! Of course, gift giving on special days (holidays, birthdays) is a must. But what about giving a gift to your director/principal and Korean coworkers when you arrive?
We recommend something small from your home country. A souvenir, something symbolic of your home town, local region, or just your country in general (maple syrup from Canada, for example). Here are some gift ideas you can consider for your boss, head teacher, and Korean coworkers:
The Boss (director/principal):
- A bottle of wine or other fancy drink: something that can be used as decoration. The more expensive it looks, the better (it doesn’t have to actually be expensive)!
- A tin of fresh coffee: ground or unground will work. It’s surprisingly hard to find good stuff in Korea!
Your Head Teacher:
- A big jar of multivitamins: vitamins in Korea are not nearly as strong, and Koreans are very health conscious.
- A jar of delicious, fresh honey: as always, the more expensive something looks, the better.
- Because you are probably not sure how many co-teachers you will have, the best option is to get something that can be shared by multiple people. Some candy, a box of chocolates, a selection of nice tea to put in the teachers lounge, etc.
Of course your friends and family members will be eager to receive little trinkets from you when you come back home a year later. Here are some ideas:
A Personalized Stamp
- You can get their name engraved on it…. in Korean! Or, you could be sneaky and write something totally different. They’ll never know!
- Cliché, we know, but you can find some pretty hilarious ones!
An “Engrish” T-shirt
- Engrish refers to grammatically incorrect variations of English, often found in East Asian countries. An Engrish t-shirt would be the ultimate gift and you won’t have trouble finding them. Anyone who has spent time in East Asia will know that the shirts you find here are shirts you cannot find anywhere else.
- Keep an eye out for the ones that have long “paws” that hang down to your waist. Hilarious!
- Korea is the only country in Asia that eats with stainless steel chopsticks. Korean chopsticks are also flat, like the handle of a western fork or spoon, rather than round or square like other Asian countries.
- Interesting fact for you: the most popular item tourists want to purchase in Korea is beauty products. Some of the popular brands include Skinfood, Etude House, The Faceshop, Missha, Innisfree and Nature Republic.
- Cell phone cases are a dime a dozen in Korea, and they come in the strangest shapes and sizes. You’ll struggle to find such a variety elsewhere! You’ll find them everywhere- vendors on street corners, markets in the subway station, or for a larger variety, you can visit the popular shopping districts in Dongdaemun, Myeongdong and Itaewon.
- Interesting fact #2: Soju is the top selling alcohol brand in the world! Who wouldn’t love to have that checked off their list. Maybe stock up on some yourself, as the price of Soju at home will be at least triple the cost of what you can get it for in Korea.
- Whether you’re looking for PSY’s face, flags from different countries, or just plain ol’ cartoon characters, there’s something for everyone!
For those who have been in Korea for awhile — what would you add to the list?
Differences between expats and travelers
You spot them both in the street. It’s Saturday.
The expat is walking with confidence; you wouldn’t realize that he* is actually lost. He is walking with a smile on his face and along the way, he has picked up some little cultural quirks. He’s not even aware of the fact that he’s doing it. He asks for help, using mostly body language and waits at the bus stop, for the next bus to arrive. He’ll find his way.
A girl* is walking past. She is trying to make sense of her map. I’m almost certain that it’s the wrong way around, but hey, I’m just observing. Her schedule is tight: She’s got places to go and people to see. Everything has been planned to the minute, and she’s getting frustrated. She signals for a taxi to stop, because he’ll be able to get her to the address, written on the back of one of her many tourist flyers…She’s called, a traveler.
There are a lot of differences between expats and travelers.
1. Going with it vs Planning
He has a broad idea of things to do, but he will take lemons and make lemonade. He’s got a lot of time (even though a lot of expats don’t use it as well as they should), and instead of having a list from TripAdvisor, he keeps his ears open and listens to recommendations from the people around him.
A traveler has a limited amount of time. Every second counts, and therefore, it’s easier to do research beforehand and follow the plan
2. More Adventurous (Risk takers) vs Comfort zone
The expat likes to take risks. After all, he left his home country, everything he knew, for the unknown. He gave up the privilege to spend Christmas at home as well as the luxury of understanding people. He took a step, and had no idea where it would lead to. It takes courage not to run back home at the first setback.
3. Friendly, more adaptable to culture vs their own way of doing things
The expat is a lot more flexible and adaptable than the traveler. The expat is aware of the fact that he is the visitor in another country, and he has to adapt to their way of doing things.
The traveler is used to her routine, so she sees no reason why she needs to change for other people. She’s frustrated pretty quickly, because she expects things to go according to the way it is in her home country. She’s not too fond of changes.
4. Less snobs, your group of friends is as dynamic as ever
As the year goes by, the expat makes friends. Lots of them. One as dynamic as the other. The main thing they have in common, is the fact that they:
- Moved abroad
- Get homesick
- Like to explore
It doesn’t matter as much where people are from or what they are doing here. It’s more about the fact that you are her now, and that’s all that matters
Travelers can come across as being a bit more pretentious. They choose who to hang out with, with a bit more care…….
5. Expats know they don’t know, Travelers “know”
The expat is the one who will tell you all about the city that you are about to visit. He’ll refer to the fact that there’s just way too much to do, and that you’ll never have enough time to see it all.
The traveler will tell you how she got everything done in a few days… she was actually bored by the end of her trip. They’ll tell you “everything you need to know”
You don’t know what you don’t know, Ms. Traveler…
6. Think about life vs not to
The expat is the one who is moving to a different country, a new life. He has time to ponder about life, to think about the things that matter and the things that don’t…
It’s very different that being on vacation. You see the world around it, you see the beauty in it, and on impulse, you might decide that you want to move there too… Know that traveling through a country and living in it, would be 2 different experiences. Know that you’ll have a job, do dishes and pay bills, just as you did back home. This time, you might just find it a bit more difficult to communicate to those around you.
This is a generalization to the extreme of the differences between expats and travelers. You might know some travelers who are more adventurous than some of your expat friends. True. Expats just tend to be, according to the stereotype.
* The fact that the guy is an expat, and the girl is the traveler, has nothing to do with genders, but it is merely to make it easier to distinguish between the two people.
I’ve been gone for a while, and I know you don’t fully understand the ways that I’ve changed. So, to every expat-friend-and-family-member-ever:
Here’s what not to say to an expat.
Before moving abroad
1. You’re going to Korea? No way! My cousin’s friend’s uncle’s niece is also teaching there. What a small world.
Yes, everyone knows someone who is in Korea, or who has been here,or who will move here. It’s just the way it is.
2. I’ll come visit you
Right. And unicorns exist. Say it when you mean it. We’ll be really disappointed if you don’t.
3. You’ll become so rich.
I’m flying to another country, and I’m working 5 days a week. Just as you are. I still have to eat and sleep and pay the bills.
4. You’re so lucky!
What’s stopping you from joining me?!
During your stay
1. When are you coming home?
One day. Maybe. For now, I consider this home. When are you moving here?
2. When will you get a real job?
I go to work every morning, I work an 8-9 hour day, I leave when it’s done, and I get paid for it. What would you consider as a real job?
3. You must really miss (insert food)?
And you just had to remind me.
4. Do you know (insert name) from (insert country) ? He is also there.
Yes, we are a group of 10 foreigners in the whole country, and there are big flashing arrows over our apartments so we can conveniently find each other.
5. Your life must be one big adventure.
I have a job. I have bills to pay. I miss out on Christmas at home. I would have liked proper Mexican food. Yes, I chose this, but it is what I make of it.
After moving back home
1. You’ve changed… (awkward stare)
Is that a bad thing? It happened over time. My world got bigger, and I’ve been challenged in ways I never would have at home.
2. How was the trip?
Such a hard question. It wasn’t really a “trip”… you won’t really get it…
3. So, did you eat insects and stuff?
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Which explains my trimmed physique. Naturally.
4. How would you say (insert foreign word) in (insert language)
Yes. I’m fluent. So glad you brought that up.
So please, friends and family. Be patient with us. Support us. Give us time to rediscover how to do life in the West. And above all, remember to start preparing for when you return home from living abroad.
Any extras you can think of? Let us know below!
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