Moving to the other side of the world is no easy feat. In getting to Korea, a lot of the process is assisted by Aclipse, especially when it comes to all of your paperwork. Packing for Korea is somewhat daunting, but thanks to packing guides from my fellow bloggers, I think you're pretty well set with advice. Recently, I made the big move from Korea back to the U.S., after three years of accumulating way more stuff that I'd realized. Here are my dos and don'ts for packing up to leave Korea at the end of your contract...
When it comes to paying your final bills, transferring your final paycheck home, and even saying your goodbyes -- those are pretty straightforward. Thinking of an adequate time frame for these things is easy, and honestly, these were the simplest of the moving-home-tasks.
The part that everyone underestimates is the actual packing, so here's some advice that will hopefully make the process go smoothly for you:
1. If you want to sell/give away items from your apartment, list them online:
For me, Facebook was the best resource for this. A Facebook group for the Incheon area was hugely helpful in getting rid of items that were still in great shape. I highly recommend checking for a group for your area, from the city to your individual neighborhood. Mine has several groups, with one specifically designated as the "flea market," making it easy to post what I was selling so people could browse through and contact me for details. [This is also, of course, a great resource for finding odds and ends to furnish your own apartment.]
Donation bins are common (as are full-fledged donation centers in some cities), so those are also great for things that you can't sell and need to just give away. This is especially true with clothing -- just donate it.
2. Leave yourself plenty of time to actually get rid of all that stuff:
Personally, I feel like I did a so-so job with this. I thought I planned ahead sufficiently, but then the amount of stuff still sitting around my apartment a few days before my flight told me otherwise. Luckily, I could call on my former coworkers to come over with big reusable shopping bags to just take whatever they wanted. While they definitely hit the free things jackpot, I definitely could've gotten more money back on some of the items I'd been unable to sell if I'd just started selling things earlier. Ideally, at least a month before your departure is when you should list things you're planning to sell. Be ready to promote your posts, bump them to the top of the listings, and haggle with buyers who want a bigger discount.
Note: For many Chungdahm branches, new teachers will fill the apartments vacated by the teacher they're replacing. This wasn't the case for me, as my apartment just needed to be emptied so that new tenants, unrelated to Chungdahm, could move in. Definitely be mindful of items you have that can be useful to the incoming teacher(s) as you're whittling down your things to prepare for your move.
3. Ship things home via the slow boat:
Even with all my selling and giving away, I still had a small mountain of things that I wanted to keep, but alas, wouldn't fit into my already overweight suitcases. Luckily, shipping things home from Korea is pretty simple. The Korea Post has two options for sending boxes out of Korea: air and surface. Air, while faster, is also quite a bit more expensive. Surface, which includes boat transport, is very affordable. The Korea Post website very neatly details all the prices for different weights, and as you'll see, surface shipping is definitely the way to save some money.
My tips for shipping things home: It's going to take at least two months for your boxes to arrive from the slow boat, so plan ahead. Also, I've heard from friends that their boxes arrived in one piece, but a little worse for wear. I bagged all my clothes/shoes/etc. in plastic trash bags before packing them into the boxes, just as an extra layer of protection from dirt or water should a box corner get crunched and ripped.
Those are my main bits of advice that come to mind when I think about what I could have done differently. Trust me on this -- you want your move home to be a smooth as possible so you can spend every last minute in Korea having fun and not stressing out.
If you have any other tips to add, leave them in the comments!
Between studying Japanese and Asian culture in university and setting her sights on a teaching career, it came as no surprise when Zannah Smreker announced that she was moving to South Korea to teach for Chungdahm Learning. In November 2011, Zannah accepted a position through Aclipse with the Songdo branch in Incheon, just southwest of Seoul. When she's not teaching, she keeps herself busy with exploring Korea, eating all the street food, and hunting down strange Engrish shirts. Check out her blog and her Instagram for more of her adventures!