DAEJEON METROPOLITAN CITY
Daejeon is the perfect central city and ideal for first time teachers. Not only is there a large, well-connected and welcoming foreigner community, Daejeon is a metropolis of 1.5 million people and the 5th largest city in Korea.
This means an endless selection of restaurants, bars, shopping and arts. There are 18 universities in Daejeon, with entertainment to match.
Daejeon also has some of Korea's best beaches nearby on the west coast. And if you're into nature and hikind, you will love all of the green space and mountains that surround the city.
Every neighborhood will have at least one small grocery to take care of your daily needs. But for a wider selection of foods and other household items you can go to the big box stores that are not unlike a supermarket, Wal-mart, or Target.
Daejeon sports several all over the city. In some cases there is more than one branch of the same store. They are: HomePlus, Lotte Mart, and E-Mart. Ask your new friends or co-workers and they can tell you the closest one to you. Oh yeah! And there's also a Costco, which is a great place to stock up on cheese and KD!
"I usually either go to Homeplus (a large grocery store chain that is within walking distance of my home) or order online at Coupang. Obviously, products from outside of Korea will be more expensive, and it can be difficult finding ingredients for non-Korean dishes. However, they are mostly available online, whether it be on Coupang or G-market. As I am used to preparing Korean meals, I usually have no problems when it comes to grocery shopping."
"I shopped for groceries at the big supermarket nearby my house
(Homeplus), and I went to local markets on the weekends. You can buy some international food products in the supermarket but they are more expensive (obviously). I generally don't miss 'home comforts'. Except salt and vinegar crisps. Weirdly, that was the only thing I actually missed and I could find them anywhere!! For other supplies like clothing/shoes/makeup/sports equipment etc, you can find that anywhere. Koreans seem to LOVE shopping (probably a lot more than they should!) But , it is easy to find anything you want, if not in your city then up in Seoul.
I never did any shopping online, but there is a website called G-Market which I think is pretty much the Korean Amazon."
Daejeon is in the geographical center of Korea. This makes it a transportation hub and a crossroads for several major routes. Seoul is only 50 minutes away by high speed train, and Daegu, Busan and Gwangju are all less than two hours.
Like all Korean cities, the public transportation is better than anything you’ve seen before. It’s clean, efficient, plentiful, and cheap. You’ll forget all about your car at home. Most transportation in Daejeon is via its extensive bus system. There is also a subway line that travels from northwest and southeast. And don’t forget the intra-city buses and trains.
"Daejeon had the best transportation system. It is called the
'transportation hub' because it is (in terms of transportation) in the
middle of the country, so all major bus and train routes run through there. It is so easy and so cheap to get around. (Although, the KTX is convenient but a lot more expensive)"
"Daejeon is considered the center or transportation in Korea, as it is located near the middle of the country. You can get to most places within 2-3 hours on a bus or train. The fastest train to Seoul takes a little under an hour. There are two train stations that take you to many other regions. I believe there are also two bus terminals that take you outside of Daejeon. In terms of inner city transportation, there is one subway line. Although it may not be as convenient as the subways in Seoul, it is much simpler, and it runs through the popular areas in Daejeon. Buses also usually come every 10-15 minutes."
In the foreigner community, at the very least, you can find ultimate frisbee, rugby, a couple soccer teams, softball, and basketball. There are dozens, probably hundreds, of options throughout Daejeon that just take a little looking and a little courage to approach your Korean neighbours.
"I am not very involved in the expat community. I am in a few Facebook groups where I gain information on events or news. If I were to actively seek expats, I believe it would not be very difficult. I am close with my expat coworkers, which is plenty for me. However, I do know there are local bars that a lot of expats like to hang out in, and there are several interest groups, such as a hiking group, on Facebook."
“I have a really great group of friends here. It’s small enough that you often run into people you know, but big enough that you are always meeting new people! Daejeon is a good size in my opinion. It doesn’t have the bustle and overcrowding of Seoul, but is still large enough to fit all requirements and has a great foreigner community. It’s also close to other cities, so it’s easy to go to Seoul or Busan for the weekend. The most important thing would be to join the Daejeon Peeps group!”
There are several mountains around Daejeon that are ripe for this All-Korean pastime. This is a great way to see families out together and get some exercise. And to be inspired when you see a Korean grandmother blow past you up the trail!
The most popular mountains are Sikjangsan, Bomunsan, Gubongsan, Jangtaesan, and Gyejoksan.
"I had a very good gym 5 minutes walking from my apartment which was great. There was a hiking group but not very big or well organized so I usually went with friends for local hikes or the Seoul Hiking Group for excursions and good hiking around the country. The pool (billiards) scene was brilliant - Pool became a big hobby of mine in Daejeon, because there were so many pool halls around my apartment."
"There is bowling, pool, karaoke, archery rooms, arcade rooms, PC rooms, etc. in terms of entertainment (which in my observation is plentiful in many other cities, as well). I have found that bowling is a very common pastime among expats and locals, alike."
There is no shortage of things to do in Daejeon and there's something for everyone. There are a few bars that local teachers like to frequent, as well as a good selection of non-Korean dining options.
"I like to either eat out with coworkers or friends, hang out at cafes, or do something (like archery). There are bars that are popular with foreigners, such as Thursday Party, Yellow Taxi, and Watering Ghost. I have been to Thursday Party a few times, and I see how it can be appealing to others, but I tend not to be a bar-person. There are also room bars where your party can have a private room to drink and have a good time. I haven't looked into clubs but I have heard that some clubs won't let foreigners in."
"The 'Dunsan' area of Daejeon, as well as Daejeon 'old town' were the best places to go out. There were a lot of bars, a lot of foreigner-friendly places to go to."
Festivals/Cultural Events/Korean Lessons
There is no shortage of festivals in Daejeon, as you will see from the testimonials below. Free Korean lessons are also available for those wanting to learn.
"You can find a festival for everything in Korea. In Daejeon they had many food festivals, a beer festival, a wine festival, small music festivals, culture festivals, I think there was also a pet festival. Around the country there were film festivals, big music festivals and more. I went to a lot of different festivals, including a strawberry festival, and sunflower festival, and a magkeoli festival (Korean rice wine). There are a lot of private classes you can join, and even some free classes. Also, lots of Koreans want to do language exchanges, so you can practice for free and make friends."
"So far, there were some events such as the Daejeon Wine Festival, Beer Festival, Science Festival, Yuseong Spa Festival, Yurim Park Festival, Daejeon Arts Festival, etc. I have only attended the wine and beer festivals briefly. I was interested in the other festivals, but due to prior schedules, I was unable to attend. There are free Korean lessons for foreigners provided by the government. The location is next to a subway station so it is easy to get to. The program I had participated in was taught by volunteer teachers."
Getting access to great and affordable healthcare in Daejeon comes without hassle. You can chose from local neighbourhood clinics or a university hospital, depending on the level of service you require. This applies not only to Daejeon, but all cities in Korea.
"A lot of the hospitals have English speaking staff. I went to an
excellent dentist who spoke fluent English, and I had to visit a doctor too who also spoke English. Pharmacists generally didn't speak much English though."
"There are clinics pretty much everywhere. There is a 24 hour clinic a few minutes from my home, and there is an English speaking doctor there. As far as I've been told, most doctors should have a good sense of English (understanding it, anyways). I've had a few cases where I've explained my problems in English and the doctor would reply in Korean."