by Anna Dehm
When I made the decision to teach in Korea, I wanted a job in Seoul. Of course! Everyone wants to go to Seoul!
Well, as you can probably guess, that is not how things worked out. Madeline, from Teacher-Tech, Inc., contacted me, and she told me that she had found me a job in Incheon, just to the west of Seoul. “An up and coming area,” she said, “Connected to Seoul by subway.”
I told my two older stepsisters who had worked in Seoul a few years prior. They laughed, “Incheon?? You don’t want to go to Incheon! That is like going to Yonkers instead of New York City!” I listened to what they had to say, but from the way Madeline had talked about it, I also had a gut feeling that Incheon was the right place for me. So I packed my bags and hopped on a flight, and I’m glad I did!
I lived in a neighborhood called Yeonsugu. I honestly couldn’t imagine a better home base. The slogan of the area is, “Better Life Yeonsu,” and my friends and I would joke that no truer words had ever been spoken! My apartment was perfectly situated in the middle of everything that I could possibly need. My work, the bank, the grocery store, the hospital, the gym, tons of great restaurants, the local expat bar.. All no more than a two minute walk away. The convenience is unmatched by any other place I’ve ever lived!
Just next to Yeonsugu is another neighborhood called Songdo. Songdo is truly the up and coming area of Incheon, a shiny and new international business district. It is packed with modern architecture and foreign food restaurants. You can even find craft beer! The area is growing quickly as more and more Koreans and foreigners alike move into the area.
Yeonsu and Songdo are the two neighborhoods that I am the most familiar with, but I have heard similar praises about the city from friends living in other areas of Incheon and for those who prefer a slightly more hoppin’ nightlife and closer proximity to Seoul, Bupyeong and Bucheon can offer that plus some of the other benefits of living in Incheon. Ultimately, Incheon has a lower cost of living than Seoul and it is a bit more laid back. It is a convenient and easy place to live, just outside the hustle and bustle of Seoul.
That said, it is easy to use public transportation to get into Seoul for the day (or a night out!). I often rode my bike around Yeonsu and Songdo, enjoying the many public parks, and on more than one occasion my friends and I took the ferry over to the surrounding islands for beach parties!
The expat communities in Incheon tend to be friendly and helpful, so it is easy to make friends and become a part of the Incheon expat family. As the type of person who prefers daily life to be hassle free, and is not as comfortable living around big crowds or super busy streets, Incheon was perfect for me!