- Download our Moving to Seoul Guide (PDF)
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 offers fast-paced, high-technology living set 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 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, Seoul has all the essential amenities to make an expat's their stay as safe and comfortable as possible. The options for public transport in the city are also vast and efficient, and taxis are numerous and cheap, making car ownership largely unnecessary.
The lifestyle in Seoul is extremely diverse, and the city provides a range of activities to appeal to shoppers, nightlife hoppers, sports enthusiasts and art lovers. There are huge shopping malls throughout Seoul, 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 affordable, while foreign foodstuffs and commodities are expensive.
Families and children in Seoul
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.
Parents will also have plenty of things to see and do to keep their tots and young ones entertained. There will also be many opportunities for weekend breaks, as Seoul is a stone's throw away from many wonderful attractions.
Climate in Seoul
Seoul has a humid continental climate, with dry, cold, snowy winters and hot, wet summers. Depending on the season, autumn and spring frequently give way to intense hot and cold temperatures.
Although Seoul's reputation as a big city can be intimidating to some, it has a cultural charm that can endear just about anyone. Expats moving to Seoul will find that 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.
"This country is so amazing, with so many incredible places to visit. I think we probably visited more places in South Korea than the average Koreans would in their life. Every weekend we were exploring new parts of the country. From incredible tea plantations in Boseong to rice paddy fields in Namhae, incredible beaches all around the country and historical places such as Gyeongju or Jeonju, we were completely stunned by the landscape! Besides, Seoul, where we lived, is a fantastic place with so many awesome districts to discover."
Read our interview with Guillaume and Hammer to learn more about their expat experiences 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
Cigna Global Health Insurance
With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider. Cigna is currently offering a 10% discount for seniors (over 60) on their Silver package.
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.