I live in Rio and unfortunately it's not a good place to be a nomad. Most people don't speak English. Most places don't have WiFi. We can't depend on WiFi and 4g anywhere. They don't work well. It's not safe to walk at night. It's not safe to work in public spaces. The city is very big and transportation is terrible. Besides it's too hot most of the year and its polluted.
Pros and Cons of Living in Seoul, South Korea
Pros of Living in Seoul
Lots of fun stuff to do
Perfect humidity now
Good air quality on average
Nomad List members liked going here
Many Nomad List members here all year round
Very easy to do business
High quality of education
Roads are pretty safe
Freedom of speech
Very safe for women
Cons of Living in Seoul
Gets very cold in the winter
Very difficult to make friends
People don't speak English well
People smoking tobacco a lot
You can get unlimited 4G data sim cards from KT at a handful of places. Incheon airport has them and the KT office near Hongik Univ. station (behind big Samsung building). There's a storefront on the ground floor (street-level), but they will tell you to go inside the building and to the fourth floor. It's kinda tricky to find, so just go to the store and they will explain. I think I paid about 30k KRW for 1 week of unlimited data.
Spend a few hours and learn the Korean alphabet (not that hard) and Google some names of Korean dishes + it's spelling in Korean. It will help a lot as most restaurants only have Korean menu's and often without pictures. As mentioned previously on the reviews it's a little hard to eat alone, but Gimbab Chonguk (김밥천국) is everywhere and 24/7 - no one will bat an eye. Also look for places that "specialises" in dumplings, They are usually "alone-eating" friendly. And so are ramen places as well as Korean "chinese" restaurants - Jajangmyeon (자장면) is very good and super addictive. Bibimbab restaurant places are fine too. Actually, it's not that hard to eat alone in Korea. The "group" meals are generally quite obvious and will be things like BBQ. You'll figure it out. Do Get used to kimchi and spicy food otherwise you'll end up eating the same thing all the time. Be adventurous. Challenge yourself and eat an octopus alive (산낙지). If you're really brave try 보신탕 before authorities close them all - I haven't but a lot of Weagukins (foreigners) secret do. Cafe's generally have really good wifi, as you would expect from one of the most connected countries in the world. Expect to pay $4-6 for a latte and maybe even more at Starbucks. Best cafe's are usually around Hipster areas and Universities. Indie owned cafe's are awesome. Nightlife is great, probably amongst the best in Asia. Can get very expensive especially at night clubs in Gangnam where it would could be like $10 for a beer - in that case you can still get drunk for $2 with soju just outside at 7Eleven. Winters are stupidly cold and summers can be brutally hot & humid. Go between April and June or September to October. They have cherry blossoms in spring which is beautiful and so are the autumn leaves. Lived here for many years. It's a cool place and vastly underrated. Seoul is continuously becoming more expensive and cost of living will soon be comparable with places like Tokyo.
I've been living for a year in Itaewon-dong Seoul back in 2015 when i was 22 years old. It was one of the best year of my life, i made lifelong friends overthere. Great culture, great food, great people. The cons : no beach, ultra-capitalist environment, big city life downside (transportation, prices etc...)
The best area in Seoul now is called Seongsu it's like the Shoreditch/Williamsburg of Seoul. Lots of old warehouses used as cafes etc. Fashion desginers. Boutique art exhibitions. Go live around there, it's great!
Seoul is an amazing experience. Even though it's a massive city it's thoroughly Korean rather than cosmopolitan and overflowing with authentic local culture. It's extremely clean, modern and futuristic with neon lights and flashing screens everywhere. The modern architecture in this city is impressive and beautiful. It wouldn't take much to convince yourself that you've travelled 100 years into the future. The food is amazing and you have to try Korean barbecue at least once if you visit this city. It's also very cheap, you get lots of bottomless free side dishes, service is quick and you don't have to tip. There's lots of interesting things to do like Karaoke (very different from the western type that's done in a bar), virtual baseball or golf, interesting museums or going to a jimjilbang (spa). Perhaps the most amazing thing about this city is the extreme level of convenience. Transport is very cheap, efficient and so clean that as a European, you will not believe your eyes. Everything is open and accessible 24/7 in many areas. This includes restaurants, shops, cinemas, laundromats, jimjilbang, libraries, you name it. Even at 3am you can live it up like it's early evening. You can also walk in to one of the many cheap hotels at any hour and find a clean room. Wi-Fi is everywhere, very fast and often free.
Seoul is lovely but still has some challenges for nomads. Korean food is great but most restaurants are used to serving groups, or at least couples. Many times you'll simply be refused service entering a restaurant alone. Unlike Japan, eating alone is stil frowned upon in Korea and mostly impossible. Exceptions are of course expat areas like Itaewon which are more used to it. Also outside signage and menus are mostly still in Korean, without any English translations generally. Even if you learn the Korean characters, you won't know the words, so this makes it impossible to order. This is slowly changing though, especially in hipster areas. You might ask "why does this reviewer care stuff is in English or not, they're in Korea, what does he expect?". Well, it's 2018 and Korea presents itself as an international country, English should be the default sub text. There's more challenges, it's very difficult to meet Koreans, you'll always be seen as the "token" foreigner in social groups. This is understandable and to be fair it's much worse in Japan than Korea. Unless you're in expat areas, you'll feel fairly isolated because Koreans will generally avoid you for fear of having to speak English. This makes it a potentially very lonely experience for any nomads. This is kinda vicious because Koreans look down on people that are alone. Hence the group-eating thing. Solutions to that? Come here with a group of friends. You'll have a MUCH easier time.
Koreans have the image that 'foreigners' like ie Europeans, can't handle spicy food. Don't be a wuss. You're making us look bad.
Seoul has many good things in every perspective. Safety! IT infra! Food! many shops until night Super fast Delivery, Kind and fast service, Hip places opens in every minute, Kind & Educated people(Education in Seoul is crazy, almost social issue), and even nature everywhere(huge river, mountains are in the city, you can easily find mountains to climb)
I am Korean and have been living in Seoul for almost a decade. (Originally from Busan) And here are some pros and cons about this city: Pros. - Super safe! - Fast & free wifi almost everywhere - Great transportation system: You can go literally everywhere in the city via bus & subway - Many coworking spaces (Most IT startups are located near Gangnam Yeoksam, and Seolleung station.) Cons. - Lots of restaurants serve in groups, so you might feel awkward eating alone at the first time (It's even hard for me too tbh haha) - Quite many people fear speaking English (It's not you, it's the language they are afraid of) Below are few tips to survive in the city: * If you learn how to read Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. It will make your life in Seoul much pleasant and easy. * Use KakaoMap || NaverMap (They provide much more accurate information than Google Map, and ofc they support English) * Samsung pay is available everywhere! * When you are working in a cafe, it is okay to leave your laptop and go to the restroom. (Don't worry. No one will steal your stuff.) * When you are in a cafe, check out for wifi passwords before throwing away the receipts.
Really enjoying Seoul so far. It is very hard to make friends at first as not many people will speak English or are too afraid to. Maybe easier in Itaewon. For phone service I was able to get month to month service on KT with unlimited data for only 35,000 won a month. Check out the desk with a sign in Thai on the electronics floor at IPark Mall connected to Yonsan station for this deal. They speak great English as well.
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