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Is Seoul all that great?

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Joined: 06 Oct 2011

PostPosted: Sat Dec 24, 2016 2:22 pm    Post subject: Is Seoul all that great? Reply with quote

I've lived in Korea for four years altogether, all of them spent in Daegu; I'm back in the UK right now and for better or worse I'm planning to go back. I think I need a bit of a change of scene though and wouldn't mind enjoying a few more home comforts while I'm there to be honest.

I've visited Seoul a few times before of course and it's always been great fun, but what negatives are there of living there? Would anyone living there recommend going there instead of Daegu?

I'm about to start applying for jobs and it would be nice to hear some opinions on the place in general before I go doing anything silly!
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Joined: 03 Dec 2012

PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2016 1:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have visited Daegu. It's a nice metropolitan city. There's nothing in Seoul that can't be found in Daegu. I'm thinking to move out of Seoul. Daegu could be my next destination. Daegu looked like a really hip place. A bunch of snobs in Seoul.
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Joined: 24 Feb 2006

PostPosted: Sun Dec 25, 2016 8:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Seoul is great, but it's not cheap. Lots to do, a huge expat population, and several cool areas and hoods in which to hang out.

Housing here in particular has caused Seoul to actually lose population over the past several years. You can still rent comparatively cheaply in Itaewon, and many do if the commute isn't too bad.

If your employer provides decent housing, take it! Some employers offer a housing allowance, but it's a pittance and won't help all too much if you're living on the economy.

Traffic is perpetually terrible, and busses and subways are almost always packed, but if you can avoid the rush hours, you can navigate around the worst of it.

Kind of up to the individual. Some like Busan, some Daegu, some being out in the sticks. All depends on what type of experience you're looking for.
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Joined: 07 Nov 2007

PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2016 3:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I lived in Daegu for 3 years (1 year, went home for two then came back for two) before moving to Seoul & Gyeongi where I've lived now for almost 6 years. My experiences of both are obviously coloured by the fact that I was in my mid twenties and single when I lived in Daegu and in my thirties and married since moving to Seoul.

I'm from the UK too, a country boy so when I came to Daegu it seemed like a huge city to me. Although one of the things I liked about it was that in terms of the foreigner community it was small enough so that there was a genuine sense of community, you'd recognize people when you went out and it seemed everyone was maybe one or two degrees of separation from everyone else. That's good and bad of course, but mostly good if you have a positive outlook I suppose.

I miss being able to get out into the real countryside in a 30 minute or so bus ride or less and feeling like I could be dropped anywhere in the city and know where i was wihtout looking at the street signs. I miss (a little) the genuine curiosity of the average Daegu citizen to foreigners. It also seems like Daegu was a better jumping off point for travelling in Korea, starting from Seoul always feels like starting from the furthest place away from everything, and you always have to be quick to get tickets on transport at the weekend.

Before I moved to Seoul I never liked the city, it seemed like a sprawling, characterless pile of concrete, and in some ways it is, but there are still a lot of advantages over Daegu to living there. In short, the most important is opportunity, both in your working life and leisure time. It's not a World-renowned capital city like London or New York, but when international entertainers / sports and the like come to Korea, they almost exclusively come to Seoul (although Daegu did have the World Athletic meet a few years back). Culturally/sports-wise any interest you have will be catered for in Seoul. There is always a multitude of work and decent quality jobs if you know where to find them compared to Daegu.

The downsides to living in Seoul? Although prices are comparable to Daegu, housing prices are crazy but if you're not thinking of settling down in Korea then they shouldn't bother you that much, especially if you have housing with your job (there is also a apocalyptic housing crash coming sooner rather than later). To escape to the countryside proper is really a day trip, and at the weekends the traffic is always terrible.

My main concern these days is the air quality. It seems at least 50% of the time the air quality in Seoul is poor, especially the fine dust. I have an app that I check each day and there is a significant difference between Seoul and Daegu, mainly due to too many cars/factories and being closer to China. This is really starting to affect our quality of life, most days we're fearful to take our young daughter out for more than an hour at a time.

I still consider Daegu my 'Korean hometown' and visit at least three times a year. It has changed since I left, more foreigners, an improved downtown and definitely more culture catering to foreigners. If you're after home comforts Daegu has all you need. I think a lot depends on why you're coming back to Korea. If it's for a couple of years or so then either place would be fine, but if it's for the longer term I'd think carefully. My wife is from Seoul and always said that she'd feel like a frog in a well if she lived in Daegu, which I felt was a bit strong, but after living in Seoul I couldn't go back to live in Daegu now. I would feel limited.
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