About three years ago, I moved to South Korea in order to fulfill requirements of my military contract. I am relatively fluent in the language as well as able to understand and converse in most of the languages of that region of the world.
I lived there for a total of two years, and I'm just recently getting settled back into living in the states.
I'm just starting to miss living there for a lot of reasons. I found myself sitting in my little apartment a lot of the time with my girlfriend. I enjoyed a lot of aspects about Korean culture, and the convenience of living in such a small country.
I miss a lot of things, and one of the biggest things that I miss is the food. In South Korea, people don't really cook too often in the larger cities. They tend to eat out pretty often, and everything delivers. Even McDonald's down there has a delivery service. That isn't really what I miss. I got used to it, and now that I've been back, I've been comparing the price difference. In Korea, I could have delivery chinese, Korean, or Japanese every night of the week, and spend somewhere around 40,000 won per person every week. That's about $35 depending on the exchange rate.
In the states, on the other hand, I'd spend an average of $15 per day. That's $105 a week. It costs three times as much to live in the states on just food alone.
I went to a movie last week, and found myself paying $17 for a ticket, and I wanted a beverage (They caught me sipping out of my flask), so I went to the counter... I paid $6.00 for a medium coke. That's the price of FOUR LITERS for 24 ounces of soda. In Korea, a night at the cinema cost 4,000 won ($3.50), and popcorn and soda was free for the first one. If you wanted a refill, it was about $0.80 for soda or popcorn. How is this acceptable?
I also miss the convenience factor. My apartment out here costs me about $400 in rent a month, which is dirt cheap. In Korea, I was paying around 1,000,000 won for a two bedroom, which is around $900 a month. While the price for the apartment was much higher, I found that I got more for what I was paying than I would in the states.
For one thing, I'd have trash pickup service from my front door. I'd have a security guard int he building, and my apartment would come mildly furnished. It came with washers and driers, washing machines, and free gas and water. All I paid for was electric. To top it off, my floors were heated, hardwood flooring. The hot water system in the house piped the hot water through the floor, so I didn't even have to heat the house with gas or electric at all.
One other thing I really miss is the convenience of NOT having a car. I've recently had to purchase a car out here, and I hate it. I hate driving, and I hate people assuming that you have a car. In Korea, I could just hop on the subway, hail a taxi, or catch a city bus. Anything else was in walking distance. There was literally nothing I couldn't do without a car. In the states, you just have to have one.
Overall, I'd say I miss asia. Being the white guy that spoke their language had its advantages. I was treated with respect, and dignity. They understood my level of education put me above everyone else in my age group, and I was always a "favorite" at every restaurant and bar I went to. At stores, I got away with haggling down prices to 50% or less of the asking price, just because I knew the language and the economic system down there.
Life was pretty good out in Korea, I'm not sure I like living in the states too much. It's just too expensive out here.