Essentials for Living in the Provinces

A sidewalk next to a field in Seosan, South Korea. Photo courtesy of Rooftop on the Hanok.

Compared to living in the Seoul metropolitan area, living in the Korean countryside has a lot of disadvantages. Buses run less frequently and have shorter hours of operation. Supermarkets might be far off or require treks for basic necessities. Rural areas are quiet, and time spent going to Seoul on weekends can add physical and mental stress. Staying late in Seoul on a date, at a meetup, or any other social interaction can be bothersome. For expats working and living in the remote rural parts, the environment can be isolating and depressing. But life in the countryside doesn’t have to be bad. There are ways to make life more tolerable. There are some things that foreigners living outside of Seoul can do to make their stay more entertaining.


A webpage on Iherb’s website. Photo courtesy of Rooftop on the Hanok.

1. Sign up for Iherb, Gmarket, Emart, and Box Oregon
Expats will need access to foreign food items, clothes and other products, and generally just local food. With less transportation and fewer grocery stores and department stores available, ordering things online could be necessary. On Iherb, expats can buy goods that are not sold anywhere in Korea. They sell international health food products ranging from kettle chips to argan oil. Orders of thirty dollars or higher have free shipping. Gmarket is one of the premier online shopping websites, and has many products that an expat could find handy such as luggage bags, bicycles, furniture, and exercise equipment. The prices are cheap and shipping is sometimes free or at least affordable. Emart is a hypermarket and has a good assortment of local and international products. The Emart app has a delivery option. However, the shipping is a little expensive. Last, Box Oregon ships products from overseas to Korea. If you want a T- shirt from an American website but have no way to ship it, send it to Box Oregon and for a fee, they will ship it for you. The price is usually 15 dollars per


A mural in Insadong, Seoul, South Korea. Photo courtesy of Rooftop on the Hanok.

2.  Make weekend trips to Seoul. Attend meetups, use Airbnb, experience the nightlife, and visit tourist spots


Rural parts are not always very happening, and in order to socialize or make friends, it might be necessary to go to Seoul. The Meetup app has many events that fit various categories such as language exchange, literature, politics, and others. Use Airbnb or Hostelworld, as the sites can help to find accommodations conveniently rather than just going and choosing a random love motel, which can be pricey. The nightlife in Seoul is amongst the best in the world, and it offers many opportunities to meet locals and the international crowd. Itaewon, Hongdae, and Gangnam are still the top places to experience the nightlife, as they have been for decades. Seoul has many historical spots that tourists find interesting such as Gyeongbukgung palace, Insadong, Gwanghwamun, and Seodaemun prison.



Jeongju, South Korea. Photo courtesy of Rooftop on the Hanok.

3. Find the unique parts of the region you live in. 


Gwangju has some beautiful historical sites, a scenic downtown, and mountains.  Cheonan has department stores and parks. Wonju has mountains and a nightlife area. Explore, use Trip Advisor, find old blog posts, ask co-workers, and generally discover the new area you now call home. Once you start to look, the area around you will start to become familiar.

Thursday Party in Dong- gu, Gwangsan- dong, Gwangju, South Korea. Photo courtesy of Rooftop on the Hanok.

4. Get acquainted with the foreign locals, largely through joining Facebook groups, going to expat bars, attending church, and reading Reddit threads.


When moving to a new area, some expats make friends fast. It is possible to find small, tightly- knit groups of foreigners rather than disparate, isolated expats. Since there are less foreigners, there is the advantage of having greater social intimacy. Of course, there is less ability to be choosy with a smaller pool of foreigners to choose from compared to the big cities. If you want local expat friends, make sure to make a good impression upon your first meeting, Be cognizant of the fact that you won’t have second chances since there aren’t really anymore foreign expats around. Though it is easy enough to make contact with other foreigners in the rural parts, becoming a member of the local Facebook group is a great way to meet locals. Just type the name of the city you live in, find the various groups and join them. Another route is to find the local expat bars, as they are bound to have some foreigners coming through at some point. A lot of expats meet other expats in foreigner bars, as strange as it may sound to people unacquainted with the phenomenon. In addition to bars, churches are another place a lot of expats meet foreign and local friends. Last, check Reddit to see if there is anyone posting about your area.





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