The 6 Best Places To Live In South Korea

Curious about where the best places to live in South Korea are?

It’s no secret that many parts of the western world now have an extremely high cost of living. Still, several countries in the east offer low living standards due to poor infrastructure, slow economic growth, or lack of modern facilities. 

PSSST. Your travel medical insurance can now cover COVID-19!

If you grab SafetyWing Nomad Insurance, it’ll be covered just like other illnesses. I’ve been using it since 2019 and I can assure you it’s the perfect solution for nomads like you and me.

One Asian country that has comfortable living standards at a reasonable price is South Korea, and the proof is seen in the country’s popularity with expats. Still, the cities and towns here are very diverse, and they all have their pros and cons. 

So, if you’re considering a move to this part of Asia, you’ll be pleased to hear that we have researched for you. Below are the six best places to live in South Korea, helping you choose the town best suited to you.

Seoul from Bongenusa Temple

Daegu

Daegu is the country’s third largest city and easily one of the best places to live in South Korea for expats. It has vibrant nightlife, plenty to do, and job opportunities for foreigners are abundant, too.

In addition, there is a good mix of Korean and Western-style bars and cafes and a large expat community, so you never feel too far from home living in Daegu.

Another of the biggest perks of living in Daegu is the affordable cost of living. Monthly rental costs are less than half the price of Seoul, averaging $200 to $350 for a one-bedroom apartment.

Consumer prices, including groceries and eating out, are also significantly lower here, making life in Daegu both enjoyable and comfortable.

Because of the low cost of living, digital nomads and expats who are not location-dependent opt for Daegu over the capital city. Plus, you can reach Seoul in 650 minutes on the high-speed bullet train, and there is easy access elsewhere in South Korea.

In terms of jobs, the electronics, manufacturing, and science industries are thriving here. However, there are also plenty of vacancies for English teachers, and the teaching industry is less competitive than in Seoul.

One downside of Daegu is that it is the most conservative city in South Korea, where traditional values are still widely held. Thus, if you choose to live here, you’ll need to be well rehearsed with the culture and respect it.

Daegu

Busan

The large port city of Busan on the southeast coast is another popular choice among expats. Although the city is full of high rises, the surrounding nature and beaches give Busan the perfect balance between urban and laidback living. 

Expats living and working in South Korea love Busan as there are plenty of outdoor activities, mild winters, and a large and welcoming expat community. It’s particularly popular among English teachers as the education sector is thriving. 

Aside from job availability, the pay is competitive, and the cost of living is affordable. However, no place is perfect, so Busan does have its cons.

For example, the locals are not as friendly as in other parts of the country, and the summers can get very busy with tourists. 

busan

Seoul

The capital city, Seoul, is another of the best cities to live in South Korea due to its eclectic nightlife, diverse cuisine, and large expat community. In addition, foreigners love the contrast between modern and old in Seoul, from the high-tech subways and quirky pop culture to the many temples and palaces dotted around the city. 

There is always something to do in the capital city and frequent concerts and festivals. As one of East Asia’s most significant financial and tech hubs, jobs are plentiful, too.

There are many international companies here, including Samsung, Amazon, and IBM.

Seoul is constantly changing and developing, so it is the place to be if you love innovation. Still, life in this bustling metropolis is fast-paced, so if you prefer small towns, maybe give Seoul a miss.

Besides being noisy and busy, living in Seoul has a few downsides. Unlike other capital cities in Asia, English is not widely spoken here, so it will significantly help to learn a few basic Korean phrases.

Moreover, air pollution is very high, and traffic congestion worsens continuously.

It’s also an expensive place to live, with the cost of living significantly higher than many of the other best South Korean cities. For example, monthly rent on a one-bedroom apartment in Seoul costs around $550 to $850.

Seoul

Jeju

South Korea is not usually the first country that comes to mind when you think of island living. However, the island of Jeju, located off the southern coast, is so blissful it is often compared to Hawaii. 

Jeju’s southern location means the climate here is much more pleasant than in most other significant South Korean cities. Moreover, the beaches are gorgeous, and there are many nature spots to explore, including the natural World Heritage Site Jeju Volcanic Island and Lava Tubes. 

Because of this, Jeju is a popular vacation spot for local Korean and Asian tourists and is particularly favored by honeymooners. As a result, life is laid back and enjoyable. Still, being a small island, the expat community is not large, and most locals do not speak English.

Thus, being able to speak basic Korean is pretty important for fitting in with the locals.

Another downside of Jeju is that the cost of living can be pretty high. Housing, in particular, is not as cheap as in other parts of South Korea, with one-bedroom apartments costing between $700 and $1000.

Also, there are few jobs for foreigners, including English teaching vacancies. Therefore, Jeju best suits digital nomads and remote workers who want to enjoy the beach life. 

Jeju Island

Incheon

If you want to live in a city but don’t like the idea of dealing with crowds and congestion, head to Incheon. The coastal town is just one hour away by train from Seoul, yet it feels like a different world.

In terms of area, Incheon is twice the size of Seoul. Yet, there are only 3 million residents compared to the almost 10 million residing in the capital city.

Incheon is home to the country’s largest international airport, a seaport, various green spaces, shopping malls, and markets. From here, you can easily hop on a boat and visit one of the beautiful islands nearby, such as Yeongheungdo. 

There are plenty of English teaching jobs in Incheon for expats and many business and investment opportunities. It’s also an affordable place to live; you can rent a one-bedroom apartment for $250 to $500 per month.

However, one bad thing about Incheon is the air pollution. You would think it is much better here than in Seoul, but unfortunately, this is not the case due to the nearby factories and ports. 

Incheon City

Gwangju

Gwangju, located in the southwest corner of South Korea, is a reasonably small city with a rich history. There are not many western influences here, so it is one of the best cities in South Korea if you are after a true cultural immersion.  

There are many spots to explore and learn about Gwangju’s history, such as The Asian Cultural Center, Boseong Tea Fields, Mudeung Mountain National Park, and the May 18th Memorial Park. There’s also some fantastic local food, but one thing you won’t find much of here is Western cuisine. 

Even though this Asian city has not been westernized much, there is still a lively English-speaking foreign community. Thus, you won’t feel out of your depth if you choose to move to Gwangju. 

Teaching jobs can be found relatively quickly here, but there are few other jobs for foreigners. However, if you do manage to find work or you work remotely, you’ll enjoy a low cost of living.

For example, you can find a one-bedroom apartment in Gwangju for less than $300.

Gwangju City

Final Thoughts On Best Places To Live In South Korea

If you thrive from fast-paced living and are looking to excel in your career, you might find the big cities in the north, like Seoul and Incheon to be what you need.

However, if you want to avoid crowds, pollution, and cold winters, opt for the southern coastal towns and islands like Jeju or Busan.

Not sure if South Korea is the right place for you? Read one of the following expat guides:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.