Teachers Share their Experiences While Living Abroad!

Tips on How to Buy Furniture Like a Local in Korea

Posted on Thu, Aug 06, 2015 @ 01:13 PM

Furniture is easy to purchase when you are living in your home country -  you speak the local language and have knowledge about good deals and sales. This simple task gets more complicated when you shop in a place where you cannot read or understand the language, and do not know how to find good prices. Here are some tips to help new teachers in Korea easily find items for their new house just like a local Korean
Buying Furniture in Korea
 
1. Explore your Neighborhood and 2. Buy from a Local Shop
 
1. Explore Your Neighborhood on Foot: Korea is a great country to go for long walks during the day and night time, as it is one of the safest countries in the world. I love walking to and from school -  not only is it great exercise but I love exploring the local nooks and crannies of my neighborhood. Many foreigners do not know where to buy household products and usually end up spending their money in expensive department stores that offer English or are easy to find on the internet. The languge struggle or inability to write a Korean address into a GPS baffles new English teachers. Expat teachers end up buying the more expensive furniture out of convenience because they do not realize that a furniture store is next door!
 
Go for runs or walks through your neighborhood during your first two weeks. On foot, you are almost guaranteed to find deals on the furniture you need! Korean neighborhoods are usually saturated with many kind of shops in walking distance of apartments.
2. Buy from a Mom and Pop Shop: Local shops offer great deals that department stores do not including free, same-day delivery and the opportunity to negotiate price with the shop owner. I recently bought a large desk, with a book case and a small stool and I negotiated the price down by $35! The shop owner also willingly gave me and the furniture a lift to my apartment and delivered the heavy items up to my room on the 8th floor.
Buying Furniture in Korea
 
3. Get Help from the Korean Staff at your School
 
Most teachers are too shy to approach the Korean staff for help when they first arrive. They think the language barrier is too great and they don't want to bother their new colleagues. Helping one another is a cultural specialty in Korea. Do not be afraid to ask your Korean staff members for help. They will be more than pleased to help you and they will feel a sense of happiness and pride while doing it! Not only that, Koreans will go the extra mile, search the whole area for you, and provide suggestions on where to find find local furniture shops.
If you are lucky, one of your Korean colleagues will offer to go shopping with you and help negotiate a good deal with the shop owner in Korean. Koreans are, of course, more knowledgeable about haggling in Korea. For instance, it is super important to remember that Korea is not Thailand (where you can barter insane deals), and Koreans take pride in their wares, so you need to know how to negotiate in a culturally acceptable way.
Buying furniture in Korea
 
4. Learn the Korean Alphabet
 
Most newcomers cannot believe this, but it really takes as little as two days to learn the Korean alphabet! Korean symbols are phonetic. If you can read Korean it is probably the most helpful thing you can learn to do while living in Korea or preparing to teach here. Once you can read, you should be able to write basic Korean, so you can easily navigate Naver (the Korean Google) or use your phone's GPS system to locate furniture stores. Also, a whole new world will open by being able to read Korean on shop signs - you will know what a store sells!
 
You will also be able to use your phone dictionary and Google translate. This will help you navigate your way through Korea and start to converse with the local Koreans whose English, depending on where you live, may be fluent or very basic.
Buying Furniture in Korea
Teach in Korea!

It is no surprise that Tijana Huysamen, a South African born Capetownian, an avid traveler and a travel journalist, fell in love with South Korea and the Korean people. Tijana arrived in South Korea in 2010 and had the opportunity to live in Chungham Province, the heart of the Korean countryside. While living in Chungnam Province, she learned to speak Korean, prepare Korean food and experience the humble nature of the countryside people.  After a year break in New York, Tijana jumped at the opportunity to return to Korea, and is currently works at the CDI Jamsil Branch, in Jamsil, Seoul. Read Tijana’s Aclipse blog to gain a unique perspective on Korea and her shared experiences and adventures both in a major city and in the countryside. Follow Tijana on Twitter @TeeAnni or email tijanahuysamen120@hotmail.com to request more information on teaching in Korea!

Tags: seoul, living in Korea, living in Seoul, what to buy in Korea, benefits of Korea, benefits of living in Korea, Apartments in Korea, furniture

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