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Stay or go? What would you do?
« on: February 13, 2020, 08:45:14 pm »
Ten years ago I was finishing up a 4.5 year stint at an academy and making plans to move home. I wanted to stay in Korea and was getting paid well with pretty decent accomodations (as far as hagwons go) and my hours were quite good too. On top of this I had some private lessons and for the first time in my life I felt like I had more money than I knew what to do with (I used to be absolutely shiiiiite with money). But, being in my mid 30’s at the time I figured it was silly to stick around Korea…living the dream. I figured the “English clock” was ticking and it was just a matter of time when the private lessons and jobs that provided good hours would evaporate for someone my age. So, I went home for a few years and was quickly introduced to the real world. Struggling to make ends meet and hating life overall. As I felt I didn’t really have any other options (and was hoping to just feel happy with life again) I returned to Korea and have been back for 7 years already. Each year has gotten better and better.

Now I find myself in my mid 40’s wondering the same things, yet I’ve never felt more in demand than I do now. I have an f6 visa…so that helps a great deal. I work a very easy 10hr/wk job and have a number of private lessons. And, through word-of-mouth, there are always more mom’s asking if I’ll teach their kids. It’s been pretty lucrative. So now I pretty much make my own schedule. Making more money(but not as much as I’d like….but I could just work more so it’s my fault) and have a great work/life balance. 

But I keep asking myself…is this sustainable? I keep in great shape, dress smart and look good for my age (patting myself on the back but I think it goes a long way in image obsessed Korea). I’m quite frankly surprised to have been offered so many positions at academies and offered so many lucrative private lessons teaching young children at my age. But how long can it last? I keep wondering what my next step should be. Not only do I want to financially provide a decent life for my family….but if I stay in Korea teaching it will be up to me and my wife to save and invest for retirement. No defined pension benefit for me here.

My wife wants to move to Canada (I’m Canadian) because she understandably hates the Korean work-life here and doesn’t want to raise a child in such a competitive society. I tell her that it won’t be so competitive for our future children as they will be bilingual (no language academy), not going to send them to a million academies(so sort of normal life) and when the time comes…they can hopefully do their final year of high school back home(if they wish)  and move on to university in Canada. Maybe I’m being naïve but I feel that they would be at an advantage. They could possibly bypass most of the Korean hoops and stress most kids deal with.
I do consider going back and getting a 2 yr after-degree in Education(teaching certification). The benefit of this would be the pension at the end. But the cost up front of 2 years of schooling, more debt, spent savings….all the while starting a family seems pretty much impossible. Even if possible what a stressful time it would be.  Now if we stay in Korea there isn’t too much to worry about in the short term. We make enough to save quickly for a wedding. I’ve just paid off the last of my debt that has been hanging over me for years. And Korea offers some nice incentives like low interest housing loans for newly weds and cheap daycare for kids compared to where I’m from(about 20% or less of the expense than it is in much of Canada).

Basically…what would you do if you were in my position? Stay and hustle? Stay and start your own study room or whatever. Gain more qualifications while here which could lead to ….who knows what? Or go home and essentially begin all over again?   

 Would love to hear from those who have been married here and possibly raised kids in Korea. Or those who got married and made the move home with no real job prospects.  Or anyone who has anything positive to add.



  • stoat
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Re: Stay or go? What would you do?
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2020, 09:31:13 pm »
Depends on what your wife can do as well I'd say. Basically you have about 20 years of working life left to raise a family, buy an apartment and save enough for retirement. If your wife can earn in Korea too that'll ease the pressure a little.


Re: Stay or go? What would you do?
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2020, 09:44:47 pm »
Depends on what your wife can do as well I'd say. Basically you have about 20 years of working life left to raise a family, buy an apartment and save enough for retirement. If your wife can earn in Korea too that'll ease the pressure a little.
Good point. We were both thinking of getting our US teaching license online. Hoping that could open some doors. We'd be open to moving to another country to teach at international school. I'm guessing that teaching couples are attractive to those who do thehiring. She went to international school her whole life and graduated from an American university. Unfortunately she's only been making about 2.1mil/mth working at start-ups.

The other option, as I see it, is open a study room/academy.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2020, 11:12:54 pm by obwannabe »


  • yfb
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Re: Stay or go? What would you do?
« Reply #3 on: February 14, 2020, 12:52:41 am »
You have to be realistic with yourself and consider your future earning potential in Canada vs. Korea after taking inflation into account.

https://www.in2013dollars.com/south-korea/inflation/2020?endYear=2008&amount=2000000

2.0m in 2008 is worth about 1.6m today.  That's a 20% pay cut over twelve years. Does your current career earnings trajectory forecast you outpacing that 20% pay cut? If so, great, stay in Korea, make the most of ESL teaching. If not then it's time to consider other options .


  • Cohort 2019
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Re: Stay or go? What would you do?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2020, 04:27:00 am »
You're a foreigner and you always will be. At least in Canada your wife and child can be part of the community. A gyopo friend of mine got horribly bullied at Samsung, only for being a Korean-American. How do you think your child will be treated and how much will he/she never tell you about ? :sad:

If you stay now you will never leave because with each passing year you get more convinced of the (in)convenience of this difficult step.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2020, 04:32:30 am by Cohort 2019 »
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  • waygo0k
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Re: Stay or go? What would you do?
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2020, 06:21:42 am »
You and your wife should definitely get yourselves licensed (with/or post degree education certificates), this will open far more doors to decades long careers and free (or subsidised) tuition for your children at international schools.

I’ve even seen international schools ads for teachers of the korean language, so your wife definitely wouldn’t be left out if she can teach korean and another subject.


Re: Stay or go? What would you do?
« Reply #6 on: February 14, 2020, 08:09:03 am »
I returned to Korea and have been back for 7 years already. Each year has gotten better and better.

have an f6 visa…so that helps a great deal. I work a very easy 10hr/wk job and have a number of private lessons. And, through word-of-mouth, there are always more mom’s asking if I’ll teach their kids. It’s been pretty lucrative. So now I pretty much make my own schedule. Making more money(but not as much as I’d like….but I could just work more so it’s my fault) and have a great work/life balance. 

My wife wants to move to Canada (I’m Canadian) because she understandably hates the Korean work-life here and doesn’t want to raise a child in such a competitive society.

Basically…what would you do if you were in my position? Stay and hustle? Stay and start your own study room or whatever. Gain more qualifications while here which could lead to ….who knows what? Or go home and essentially begin all over again?   

sounds like you have it pretty good right now.  seems like you are independent in the sense that an employer can't wreck your plans.  if things are going so well, why rock the boat?  you can continue to get degrees if you want, open new businesses, etc.
as for the kids, with the low birthrate in korea, they won't have anyone to compete against.  bilingual, educated, probably in hot demand depending which career path they choose.  korea could basically be their homebase since they could study elsewhere later on (just assuming multiple citizenships). 
if you have your market cornered and have a good reputation, you will probably never run out of students. 
so to answer your question of what i would do, if i had your setup, i'd stay.  seems like you've made a good life. 


  • Piggydee
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Re: Stay or go? What would you do?
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2020, 10:42:13 am »
I decided to go but that's because I don't have a husband here, I'm getting older, and my lifestyle is kind of unhealthy.  Plus I'm growing tired of teaching kids that don't appreciate what I do.  I chose to leave because my nightmare would be to become an ALWAYS gripping about Korea/Koreans, gray haired, very over weight woman, who drinks herself silly at the pub, and is that weird annoying one that the young people wonder "WHO TF invited this grandma."  Even at 35, I get some of the noobie fresh out of college NET that give me the "Thanks for the advice MOM!" looks :rolleyes:  So I think it's high time I leave to greener pastures.  Didn't say I didn't enjoy my time here.  I loved it and I love how every year this country just add more and more creature comforts (heated seats at the bus stop yo!)   :laugh:  Cheap health care!  But still this country is not mine and never will be.  So it's best to leave.

As for you OP, I think you should stay.  Think about how your wife feels.  If you have good money coming in than in this economy I say STAY! 

However, I would strongly consider leaving if your child experience extreme bullying at school.  I had two children who were like your kids (half Korean/white Canadian) and they were teased a lot.  Called things like waygookin and even American!!  >:(  The younger one got it the worst because he didn't appear very Korean and the kids didn't want to sit next to the "waygookin."  They eventually moved to Canada.  They did come back two years later but then left again.  I remember the girl telling me "We are leaving Korea forever this time!"  And she seemed all the happier for it.   :sad:  If your children are experiencing bullying, for their sake I say take them to Canada.  Sure the money maybe good but if they are the only mix race or foreign looking (as in there are no other children from other countries) at the school than put yourself in their shoes about how isolating that is. 

I know for some of us school life sucked (teased, picked on etc.) but if there is a way you could make it better for them by moving them into a school with diversity then I'd do it. 

But if your kids are doing fine here and have a few or loads of friends, then stay dude.  Don't rock the boat! 
« Last Edit: February 14, 2020, 01:49:30 pm by Piggydee »


  • thunderlips
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Re: Stay or go? What would you do?
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2020, 11:32:12 am »
We are leaving. Mostly for the kids but also for me to do something anything besides be an edutainer here. It wasn’t all bad but I’m just burnt out from it. I’m looking forward to going back to the usa even with the current administration if that says anything and doing something to get a 20 year pension.


Re: Stay or go? What would you do?
« Reply #9 on: February 14, 2020, 11:46:34 am »
If I were planning on having a family and raising kids, I would 100% leave. Some mixed families are able to make it work here, but the majority of people I have personally known were faced with far too many challenges, and they all ended up leaving within five years of having kids. There's just too much discrimination here and not a lot in the way to combat that discrimination, and the kids get the brunt of it, unfortunately. If you want to stick it out and see what happens, that's fine, but have an exit plan ready.

Without kids, I guess it would depend. If I were married to a Korean, it would depend on what my spouse's work/career situation is like. If my spouse wants to leave for other pastures somewhere else, I'd be on board with that. If my spouse wants to stay AND their work situation is good, I'd be fine with staying. If my spouse wanted to stay even though their work situation is terrible, I'd probably end up leaving without him (sounds terrible, but I've known too many relationships that became super unstable when one spouse is stuck in a shitty job but refuses to do anything to change it -- I'd never marry anyone too afraid to live and work outside of their own country anyway).

If I'm married to another foreigner, I can only imagine a few scenarios in which we'd end up retiring in Korea, lmao, and those are incredibly unlikely. I think we'd be on the same page about leaving, but there'd probably be a lot of discussion on where we should go.

With not being married, I'd definitely leave because I just don't see a future here. Being an expat is hard enough as it is, it goes double when living in a country where other expats aren't willing to settle down in, either, and the majority of the locals don't understand or even want to discuss the struggles of being a minority here (especially when you're lumped into one of the more undesirable categories of minority). Plus, I'm bored. This is kind of my Achilles' heel, I get bored, and my usual solution is to relocate.

I have plans to leave within the next couple of years. I may or may not go back to work in the States, but I'm far more likely to find a job in another country altogether. Get all of the right qualifications and certifications in order, and you'll find a lot of open doors.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2020, 12:08:08 pm by Chinguetti »


  • Piggydee
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Re: Stay or go? What would you do?
« Reply #10 on: February 14, 2020, 12:11:40 pm »
Chinguetti I agree with you on the first point.  I knew this guy who had to home school his son because he was half black.  Not sure if they still live in Korea or not.  His son was young enough for home school (early development lessons etc)  But not sure how long that can be comfortable for the kid once they grow older.


Re: Stay or go? What would you do?
« Reply #11 on: February 14, 2020, 01:35:22 pm »
For me, and if I were to raise a family, it would not be in Korea.  For one big factor, and that is the worsening pollution.  It's so unhealthy, and there seems to be a chunk of Koreans who take it seriously, wear masks etc and then there are the other chunk of Koreans who run around in it and worse still, subject their kids to it with little regard for the damage they may do to their them.  Since the middle of December until now, in Chungnam, 90%+ of the days have been over 100 by the AQICN website.  As I speak now it is in the 160-170 territory.  Seriously.  I hate it.  One more year of it.  If Korea had better air, then maybe I could stay longer.  But it's just not healthy.  Would I want to bring up a child in this kind of shit?  No chance.  When my dad was over for Christmas, he was surprised at just how depressing and shit it was when he looked outside (1 in 7 days was good when he was over, and that was his penultimate day here).  Would I want to tell my kids to wear a mask while they're outside?  Not on your life.

As an aside, when I was home last month, we were having a depressing Brexit chat and basically all my family said if they had a choice for anywhere to live to escape the post-Brexit shitfest, it would be Canada.  All countries have their problems, but as an attractive place to live?  Yes, please. 




Re: Stay or go? What would you do?
« Reply #13 on: February 14, 2020, 05:23:28 pm »
In your case, because you are married and have a family, it's a game changer.

If you were still single and searching for meaning and purpose in your life besides just working to make
good money, I'd say don't stay wherever you don't feel like you are getting the most of out of life because
one day you'll regret it.

That's the spot I'm in.   But I always thought to myself, if I was married and had children to support, it would change my whole life perspective.  I wouldn't be seeking for my own pursuits and personal benefits anymore.  My goals and values would change as it would be focused on caring for my family and in doing so, I'd be fulfilling and satisfying myself.  They would be #1 in my life and make doing almost any kind of job meaningful now and therefore, I would be able to keep doing something that I normally wouldn't if I were alone for the rest of my life.




  • L I
  • The Legend

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Re: Stay or go? What would you do?
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2020, 04:29:09 pm »
Seriously.  I hate it.  One more year of it.  If Korea had better air, then maybe I could stay longer.  But it's just not healthy.  Would I want to bring up a child in this kind of shit?  No chance.  When my dad was over for Christmas, he was surprised at just how depressing and shit it was when he looked outside

South Korea now has 60 coal fired plant units, and another seven units under construction.

With expected lifetimes of 30 years, the new plants could be in operation into the 2050s.


https://www.climatechangenews.com/2020/02/20/south-korea-urged-exit-coal-2029-stick-paris-climate-agreement/


  • Cohort 2019
  • Super Waygook

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Re: Stay or go? What would you do?
« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2020, 06:33:57 pm »
It's been  years and still my lungs hurt a bit when a scooter passes by. Nobody else seems to feel that, they can smell the exhaust but it doesn't sting their lungs they tell me. I have always been healthy and often go running at the beach and the only thing which is different about me is that I had to breathe in Seoul air for several years.  :sad: 

I think the damage done to your lungs is permanent, it never heals again.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2020, 06:38:36 pm by Cohort 2019 »
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  • VanIslander
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Re: Stay or go? What would you do?
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2020, 01:26:21 am »
It's been  years and still my lungs hurt a bit when a scooter passes by. Nobody else seems to feel that, they can smell the exhaust but it doesn't sting their lungs they tell me. I have always been healthy and often go running at the beach and the only thing which is different about me is that I had to breathe in Seoul air for several years.  :sad: 

I think the damage done to your lungs is permanent, it never heals again.
I am turning 51 in May and I have now a clear body signal of air pollution. I KNOW physically by the pain in my neck how the air pollution is. 30-50 I feel nothing. 80-100+ is stiffness and soreness in the morning. I bloody check daily and my hypothesis has been confirmed for nearly two years now. I guess that means I am marginal, on the edge of survival/death. So be it.



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Re: Stay or go? What would you do?
« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2020, 05:23:51 am »
Mate, at first I was wondering what you were on about but I found your remark about breathing in bad air and neck pains so weird that I googled it and the only suggestion I got: air pollution and neck cancer.

Quote
Cumulative evidence from across the globe shows that polluted air is associated with increased risk of lung, head and neck cancers..
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