Where you live in Seoul will ultimately challenge, enhance, or create your whole experience. While within each community you can find enough to be content, sometimes you may require more or less. Seoul is such a large city, with a rotating population of around 23 million people, that popping over to another neighborhood (quickly) can be quite difficult. Keep this in mind when you are considering where to live in relation to your workplace, your child’s school, and even seemingly trivial comforts like access to international grocery stores or restaurants.
There are a variety of permanent housing options spread throughout Seoul and which one you choose depends on what will be the most comfortable for you, or you and your family. It is entirely possible to maintain a comfortable expat lifestyle while still being submerged in Korean culture. Modern Koreans are very “Western”, but still hold fast to the culture of Hanguk. If you want the best of both worlds then it is ideal for you to stay close to the center of the city.
However, if it is a fresh start in a completely new culture that you crave, then the outskirts of the city are the place for you. Your accommodation will also reflect this change. Typically as you move away from the center you will find only high-rise apartments, villas, and officetels. You may have one large chain grocery store and a few small convenience stores. The number of international schools begins to diminish, and your restaurant options will be limited to Korean BBQ, fried chicken, and Kimbap Chonguk (a Korean snack diner that serves ramen noodles and kimbap). Expats from both sides of this permanent living spectrum have had positive and negative experiences.
Read the previous and following sections thoroughly and use the information to help you piece together your ideal home in Seoul.