Why live in the countryside in Korea? I’m often asked by the city dwellers here in Korea why we actually chose to live rurally out in the sticks.
Well, there are plenty of ups and downs to living out here ‘in the boonies’ (so called by one of our Canadian friends). For us, there was no question when we filled out our application forms over 2 years ago. Here are the pros:
1. We love the outdoors – Out where we live there are thousands of concrete roads that line the rice fields and follow the rivers creating a huge network of possibilities to explore. We’ve had some of the best bike rides and hikes in the evenings after school and found some real gems. Can’t stress this part enough – it’s right on our doorstep. No buses needed.
2. Money – Living rurally and working with EPIK we get a bonus of 100,000 won for teaching rurally and this money is supposed to be for the travel expense. Between the two of us though we only spend about 18,000 a week on getting to and from schools so the extra money goes straight in the pot. We also get a bonus of 150,000 for working in more than 2 schools; Ruth’s in 5 and I’m in 4 – again, money straight in the piggy bank.
3. Following on from number 2; if you’re planning to save save save in Korea, then living rurally it’s made much easier. Quite simply there are a lot less things to spend your money on out in the sticks so you’re a lot less tempted to splash the cash around. Don’t get me wrong, we don’t just sit and stare at the walls – there are enough things to do for fun, just free stuff and I promise we’re not as boring as that all sounds!
4. You can walk from one side of our little town to the other in about 10 minutes so we definitely save on taxi/bus fares over living in the city.
5. I love the community feel living out here. There are only 10 native speakers here so we know every single one and hang out as often as we can.
6. It’s so relaxed. You never have to deal with the hustle and bustle you get in the cities.
Right then, the down sides…
1. It’s not so easy to get to the big supermarkets, the cinema or a big shopping district. We’re only 45 minutes away on a bus from the city though.
2. There’s usually a lot more going on in the cities. Gwangju, our nearest city, always seems to be having an event going on so I guess we miss things now and again.
3. Most of our friends live in the cities so if we want to visit we have to make a day and night of it. No complaints here though, it’s great to visit the cities. We’re always happy to get back to our little corner of Korea though.
4. As it’s a small community I guess there’s always the chance that you won’t get on with the other native speakers. If you’re the kind of person that gets on with anyone though, you won’t have a problem.
So, if country life is for you and you’re not fussed about having easy access to the cinema or massive supermarkets/department stores I would thoroughly recommend it here in Korea.
Here are a few pics we’ve taken over the last week or so wandering about: