Good Things About Living In Rural Korea
So I know that my blog might come off to some people like living in rural South Korea is horrible. I’m here today to tell you that it’s not. While it was a difficult experience for me, there were still some great things about living in the countryside. I would like to focus on the positives.
1.) Cheaper cost of living
I think it is a well-known fact that city living can be quite costly, especially when it is a highly populated city. High key money rates, higher monthly rent, higher foreigner prices, higher bus fare, etc. Everything is just a bit more costly. Living in the countryside, the housing costs are cheaper as well as much of everything else. Restaurant prices, costs of groceries, etc. I found it easy to stick to a monthly budget since everything was so affordable.
2.) Beautiful nature and scenery
I love blue skies. I love flowers. I love mountains. I love wide expanses of lush green grass and rice paddy fields. I love watching dragonflies. I love seeing white cranes soar across an open field. I. LOVE. NATURE.
Living in the countryside, you can see all of this. It’s right outside your front door when you wake up in the morning. It’s there for you when you want to take a leisurely walk. It’s just always there. Well…except for in the Winter. Winter is the negative when it comes to nature in a rural area. Because the countryside has so much land, and the land dies in the Winter, Winter can actually be very depressing for a nature lover like myself. But when Spring comes again, it’s the most beautiful thing you will ever see and it makes slogging through Winter worth it.
3.) Everything is in walking distance
Unless you are going to a neighboring town, you can walk anywhere you want to go. The train station, the bank, the pharmacy, the hospital, a cafe, the grocery store, school. You can walk to everything.
This was most definitely a positive for me because I did not own any form of transportation. I did not have a bike or scooter. I was able to get plenty of exercise because I lived too close to everything to take a bus or taxi. The only time it became difficult was when I was carrying all my groceries back to my apartment. Those bags were heavy lol. But I actually wanted the exercise so I didn’t mind it too much.
4.) Public transportation is cheap(er)
This goes in conjunction with the cheaper cost of living. When I took the bus from the only bus port in Boseong, I never paid more than 10,000 won for wherever I was going (unless I was going all the way to Seoul of course, or any place else that’s farther than an hour). Even the local bus was a little cheaper than the local buses in the cities. Those buses can cost you anywhere from 1800 to 2400 won per trip. A local bus in Boseong is literally a dollar.
5.) Cleaner air
Seoul and many other highly populated cities of Asia are known for their high levels of pollution. I honestly don’t even know how people live their day to day life walking through yellow dust and smog. My entire year in Boseong, there was only one week of bad air quality, and even then, the quality was still MUCH lower than in Seoul.
But even with that much lower pollution level, as a foreigner, feeling the effects of the bad air quality can be quite painful. I always knew when the air quality was in the yellow (quality levels: green-yellow-orange-red) because I could feel it in my chest. Breathing became difficult when walking to and from school and my throat would burn.
If you are like me and have never lived in an area with high pollution and bad air quality, the slightest bit of it will send you reeling. So this is something to pay attention to. When many people were getting notifications to their phones about wearing face masks and limiting their time outdoors, I was walking freely, mask-free, enjoying my stroll. The pollution just barely reaches that far south in the countryside, so I was grateful for that.
6.) Life is simpler
Although rural life is not very fun, I am also not really a busy city person either. I don’t do well in cities like Manhattan or Seoul. I need smaller cities like Gwangju or Jeonju or Boston (which I still consider big anyway).
In the countryside, there are no large crowds, no rushing, no crowded cafes and restaurants, no cutting in lines, and NO PUSHING. This was such a relief for me because the busyness of major cities truly raises my anxiety levels. And if someone pushes me, I push back!
I remember one woman tried to push me once when I was visiting an aquarium. She pushed me so hard – while also standing on my shoe – that I almost hit the ground, face first. I have no idea what my facial expression was like, but I turned around so fast and shoved my arm straight into her chest and looked her dead in her eyes. She apologized profusely after that while bowing at me about ten times.
I do not do well with pushing and shoving. If you have the words in your language for “pardon me”, “excuse me”, or “just a moment” then USE THEM! These phrases exist in Korean. I’m not sure why they choose not to say them and have instead chosen to throw people out of their way.
I’ve had some bad experiences with Koreans and I’ve had some annoying experiences. But I’ve also had some good ones. Sometimes you will find a gem of a person who makes living in rural Korea not feel so bad and alienating. For me, that was Mr. Lee, the crossing guard at my travel school.
Mr. Lee was such a sweet person. He was a friendly little grandpa that was truly fascinated by me. He had probably never seen a black person in his entire life but he was never rude. He was always willing to stop and talk (with his very limited English) and he would always stop directing the morning traffic (which was barely any) to come shake my hand and tell me good morning. And it was the cutest thing to see him with his own copies of the students’ English books.
I never got to say my final goodbye as my last sceduled day at my travel school ended up getting cut last minute. But I truly wish Mr. Lee the best. I hope he lives the rest of his old age peacfully. And I hope that I was able to show him that black foreigners are not scary people, just like he showed me that not all older Koreans are opposed to foreigners.
Thank you Mr. Lee.