I’m in my fifth year of living abroad in Korea and people often ask me what do I like about it. Previously, I shared three things I love about living in Korea. In addition to those things, I have been thinking about other things I enjoy as an expat mom. Today, I wanted to share some of the benefits of parenting abroad in Korea.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF PARENTING ABROAD IN KOREA
1. Safe environment.
South Korea is a very safe country to live and raise children. Kids can play outside, walk to and from school, and use public transportation without parents having to worry about them being kidnapped. There are no guns. So parents don’t have to worry about drivebys while their children are playing at the playground. As a surveillance society, Korea has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. On that note, it’s a very kid-friendly place to live.
2. Family and kid-friendly cities.
There are so many parks, museums to explore, and fun indoor and outdoor activities to do as a family and with children in Korea. You can never run out of things to do. Kid cafes are very popular in Korea, perhaps, they’re the originators of them. And they are everywhere, including in shopping centers like Emart and Homeplus. You can even check your kids in to play while you go grocery shopping. Some family restaurants also have them. And then, there are some kid cafes with special themes. They are a win for every child and parents.
3. Children’s Day is a national holiday!
The only Children’s Day I knew of before moving to Korea was a special church service. But here, May 5th is a paid day off of work to celebrate children. Kids receive gifts from their parents and grandparents. Cities host many festivals and concerts for them to attend. And they play traditional games. Discounts are also offered to families to bring their children to an amusement park. And Korea has an assortment of parks to include water parks, zoos, farmlands, aquariums, and Everland. And throughout the year, foreign residents can enjoy a 50% promotional discount to some amusement parks.
4. Time to travel as a family.
In addition to Children’s Day, Korea has a lot of national holidays, including long ones like Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) and Seollal (Lunar New Year). As a public school teacher here, you will get a minimum of 20 vacation days, plus 15 national holidays off, including some long weekends. Often times, you can enjoy more time off depending on your school and its happenings. What’s great about this is that you will have time to travel and explore Korea, as well as, travel to neighboring countries like Japan, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Seoul is a great travel hub. You can be in another country in as little as 1.5 flight.
5. Cheap and quality healthcare.
As residents in Korea, we are privileged to enroll in the National Health Insurance Coverage that all Koreans have. In general, employers pay 50% of the cost and you pay the other half. It’s really cheap. It covers a lot, including prenatal care, vaginal and cesarean deliveries, and postnatal care. In addition, vaccinations, checkups, and even children’s dental care is covered. The NHIC will actually send you coupons and notices when it’s time for your kid’s checkup. They also have self-employed (self-paying) plans for eligible foreign residents.
6. Affordable childcare.
The thought of paying for childcare in the United States is unimaginable. I don’t know how my fellow Americans are affording it. In Korea, the government subsidizes childcare for all Koreans and resident foreigners. As a foreign resident, we enjoy a 50% subsidy. After I had my first daughter, she started daycare at eight-months-old and attended for a year. We paid a flat rate of $370 a month. That was for full-time care if needed. I have plans for them to both go when the new semester starts.
7. Easy to create your own parenting style.
Since my children were born abroad and have never lived in their passport country, I only have experience parenting abroad. A clear advantage is that I get to decide how I parent my children without the unsolicited opinions of others. What do I mean? I don’t have family members in my ear, for the most part, telling me how to do things, how they raised their children, or how they’d discipline children. By no means, am I a perfect mom, but I have my own ideas about parenting, how I desire to raise and relate to my children, and the values I would like to instill in them. This is not to say that I don’t welcome advice from others who have been there and done that.