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Moving to South Korea

A Comprehensive Guide on Relocating to South Korea

Thinking about moving to South Korea? Our guide will walk you through the steps needed to settle in The Land of the Morning Calm. Whether you are planning to live in South Korea for just six months or six years, we go over every requirement to make your relocation process smooth and easy.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats ourselves, we understand what you need, and offer the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us to jump start your move abroad!

Do you want to move to South Korea, but don’t know how? When immigrating to a new country, what things do you absolutely need to know? Our relocation guide gives you an overview of just how easy or hard it is to relocate to this vibrant Asian country. In general, moving to South Korea is easy as long as you are prepared before your arrival. Although the country has a long history of not preferring foreign migration, those sentiments have changed as Korea has started to welcome more and more international companies through its borders.

Why should you make South Korea your next home? The real question is: why not? With its generous salaries and reasonable cost of living, a great benefit of expatriation in South Korea is the overall easy, comfortable way of life. Expats will find welcoming hosts among Korean nationals and fellow foreigners alike. In addition, the country’s landscape spans from beaches to metropolises to snow-capped mountains, providing a little something for everyone.

relocating

Relocating

Whether you are moving abroad for the first time or relocated multiple times before, the process raises many questions. Our complete guide to relocation will ease your doubts along the way, from the initial preparations to how to negotiate a relocation package, we help you GO! prepared with the key answers.

The process of relocating to South Korea is easier than some might think. Whereas neighboring countries like Japan and China have strict import requirements, Korea generally lets in most household items and goods as long as they have previously been used and are for personal use. If you purchase something brand new before traveling to Korea, be sure to remove all tags.

When shipping household goods to South Korea, it is important that they arrive within six months of your entry into the country. If they arrive outside of the six months, then you will be subject to duty tax. This is even true of importing vehicles: as long as the car arrives within the six-month period you will not have to pay duty tax. However, expats should note that Japanese cars are not allowed to be imported into South Korea.

Expats moving to South Korea with pets will be happy to know that there is no mandatory quarantine. If your pet is from a country that is considered “rabies free,” a quarantine will only be required if the pet has not had a recent rabies shot or if its implanted microchip is unable to be read. However, animals from countries where rabies is more prevalent will need to undergo a blood test as well as a twelve-hour quarantine. This will be required whether or not the animal has had a recent rabies vaccination.

What about the vaccinations needed for you and your family to go to South Korea? Luckily, South Korea is a fairly safe, clean country, where even the tap water is safe to drink. Read this section to learn more so that you and your family are fully prepared for your international journey to this exciting, peninsular country.

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Visas & Work Permits

Whether you are relocating to South Korea for work, school, or family, you will need to know how to get a visa in order to be a legal resident. Luckily, South Korea has started to open their borders, and welcome more and more foreigners every year. This, in turn, has made the visa application process easier than what it used to be in the past. Nowadays, the type of visa you apply for will largely depend on your reason for going to South Korea. This will even be as specific as the type of job you will have as visa requirements will differ depending on whether you are a teacher, designer, researcher, etc.

No matter the type of visa you are applying for, visa costs in South Korea are relatively the same. On average, a South Korean visa cost will range between 70—90 USD. The price will fluctuate dependent on whether you want a single or multiple entry visa. Be sure to take note that the visa fee will need to be paid in USD rather than the country’s standard KRW currency.

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Housing

While the South Korean housing market is competitive, expats will not have too hard of a time finding a place to live. On the contrary, foreigners can easily find housing in Korea within their first month (or even their first week) of arrival. You will, however, just need to act fast when you find a place you like, because it could be taken within just a day or two. The types of housing you have to choose from will not vary much unless you want to live away from a major city. If your location of choice is flexible, expats can find anything from a studio to a multi-bedroom home. Likewise, paying utilities in South Korea is easy and can be done at a convenience store.

Just like with getting a job, knowing some basic Korean will help when it comes to how to rent an apartment in South Korea. Some expats have felt misled by ads or given the run-around by landlords, which will be easier to avoid with some basic knowledge of the language. This skill will also be helpful to figure out the average rent prices in the country, which are written in a slightly different format than western expats may be familiar with.

Foreigners wanting to know how to buy a house in Korea will not have to meet any special requirements just because of their nationality. However, average housing prices will start at around 1.5–2.5 million KRW (130,000–215,000 USD) for a small apartment or a studio, or about 4 million KRW (340,000 USD) for a house.

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healthcare

Healthcare

The healthcare system and health insurance in South Korea is consistently ranked as one of the top systems in the world according to the OECD. Expats are not only able to take part in South Korea’s health insurance scheme, but they are required to register after six months in the country. This is a recently enacted policy in Korea that aims to prevent foreigners from using the public healthcare and then just leaving the country (and the bill).

One drawback to South Korea’s healthcare system is the disparity between the number of medical professionals in the city versus the countryside. Expats wanting to know how to find a doctor will find the greatest amount in urban areas rather than rural.

Luckily, although the availability of doctors may differ between the city and countryside, what does not differ is the quality of care received. Whether you are giving birth in South Korea or just need to be seen for the common cold, Korea is sure to have everything you need to live happily and healthily.

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Banks & Taxes

If you want to live in South Korea, you will need to know how to open a bank account. This will not only be mandatory should you be moving to the country for work, but it will also be a great convenience when renting a home, paying for utilities, or even just withdrawing money from a local ATM.

Our guide goes over the best banks for expats in South Korea as well as the documents needed to open a non-resident bank account. Likewise, we also include information about how much the tax is, including the rates that are specific for expats.

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education

Education

Expats heading to South Korea with children will want to know about the international schools in the country. These schools are typically of extremely high quality, but they are also the most expensive schooling option, with prices averaging over 24,000,000 KRW (20,100 USD) per year.

If your child wants to try something other than an international school, you will be happy to know that the school system in South Korea is also of a high standard. As a whole, the country is considered to have “one of the most educated populations” in the world, which is in reference to a large percentage of its residents earning a university degree. The education system not only promotes eventually higher education among its students, but also a focus on innovation and community.

For a look at some of the best schools and international schools, take a look at our education section.

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working

Working

Dreaming of working in South Korea? You are not alone. In the past decade the peninsular country has started attracting workers from all over the globe, especially in the fields of technology and teaching.

If you want to know how to get a job in South Korea, we will walk you through the process so that you can get yourself ahead of the competition. For example, did you know that a basic knowledge of Korean will immediately work to your advantage when applying for jobs? It is best to list this knowledge on your resume, as well as provide translated copies of your CV and cover letter in both Korean and English.

Self-employment in South Korea is quickly gaining traction and, while jobs are plentiful, there is almost more supply than demand. This means that, again, setting yourself apart from the hundreds of other applicants by having a basic understanding of Korean will work wonders to landing you your dream job.

Read our working section to learn more tips and tricks on how to work in South Korea. In addition to CV and interview tips, we also go over how to get a social security number in the country as well as the inner workings of the business culture and what you can expect from an average salary.

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country-facts

Country Facts

If you are immigrating to South Korea, one of the first things you will want to know about is the cost of living. Is it expensive to live in South Korea? Globally, South Korea has a reputation for a high cost of living, but this mostly pertains to Seoul. However, even Seoul is not that expensive when compared to other popular expat destinations in Asia such as Tokyo, Hong Kong, or Singapore.

In addition to knowing the cost of living in South Korea, many expats may also want to know what driving is like. This guide will walk you through the steps of acquiring a Korean driving license as well as the cost and availability of public transportation in Korea, if that is more convenient for you.

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Updated on: January 07, 2020

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