As the political, cultural, financial and educational hub of the country, it's hardly surprising that Seoul is the most popular choice for expats moving to South Korea.
A buzzing metropolis situated on the Han River, Seoul combines fast-paced, high-technology living against a rich historical background of palaces, fortress walls, royal shrines and single-storey wooden hanok houses. At the same time, the city is the birthplace of K-Pop and the epicentre of the Korean Wave, exporting the country's culture around the globe.
Living in Seoul as an expat
Seoul is South Korea's major business hub and produces about a fifth of the country's gross domestic product. Many expats working in the city find jobs working in information technology, electronics and finance, especially as Seoul is home to major corporations such as Kia, Hyundai, Samsung and LG Electronics. It's also the centre of the English teaching industry, another popular avenue of expat employment.
With a wide range of accommodation options and quality healthcare, expats will have all the essential amenities to make their stay as safe and comfortable as possible. The options for public transport in Seoul are also vast and efficient, and taxis are numerous and cheap.
The lifestyle in Seoul is extremely diverse as the city provides a range of activities to appeal to shoppers, nightlife hoppers, sports enthusiasts and art lovers. There are huge shopping malls throughout the city as well as a large selection of both local and international restaurants.
Cost of living in Seoul
The cost of living in the South Korean capital is high. That said, salaries are competitive and employment contracts often cover the cost of accommodation and schooling, saving expats a lot of money. Transport, locally manufactured goods and Korean food are generally extremely affordable, while foreign foodstuffs and commodities are expensive.
Expat families and children
South Korea is a child-friendly nation and Seoul is no exception. There are plenty of international schools in the city, with curricula ranging from American and Japanese to the International Baccalaureate. Tutoring is also a large industry in South Korea and expat parents will therefore not struggle to find school support for their children, should they need it.
Climate in Seoul
Seoul has a humid continental climate, with dry, cold, snowy winters and hot, wet summers. The mild autumn and spring seasons are short and give way to extreme temperatures on either end of the spectrum, depending on the season.
Although Seoul's big city reputation can be intimidating to some, it has a cultural charm that can endear even those people who are uncomfortable in cosmopolitan urban environments. The contrast between parks, rivers, mountains, teahouses and tall, modern skyscrapers uniquely form to create a city rich in experiences.
►For information about the ups and downs of life in the city, see Pros and Cons of Moving to Seoul.
"Public transportation, food, activities, and incredible public places are a few things that Seoul offers and does exceptionally well." Read more about Malcolm's expat experiences in Seoul.
"It is so easy to make friends here because there are loads of social groups and plenty of organised outings for foreigners in South Korea." Read more about Maggie's thoughts on life as an expat in Seoul.
Are you an expat living in Seoul?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Seoul. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
With 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
Aetna International, offering comprehensive global medical coverage, has a network of 1.3 million medical providers worldwide. You will have the flexibility to choose from six areas of coverage, including worldwide, multiple levels of benefits to choose from, plus various optional benefits to meet your needs.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.