Preparing for move requires big dreams, a little common sense

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Preparing for move requires big dreams, a little common sense


JEJU - For most immigrants to Jeju, it’s the natural beauty of the island that caused them to make their move. However, many of them warn those who may be thinking of following in their footsteps to “stop and think about it one more time,” because they’ve seen many families give up and leave the country’s southernmost island to return home on the mainland.

Following are the five “commandments” for those considering whether or not they should relocate.

1. Have a trial run

Jeju immigrants insist that you should stay on the island for at least six months to a year before making up your mind. Hoi Hyeong-seok, 40, a licensed real estate agent who moved to Jeju 10 years ago advises “taking time to look for a decent place to live on the island,” as the optimal choice of neighborhood may change dramatically according to marital status and whether you have children.

Moreover, Jeju still follows the custom of moving only during the “shingugan,” or moving season when Jeju residents tend to move. The week-long shingugan typically starts at the end of January. Jeju immigrants warn newcomers to be aware that real estate agents are likely to overcharge them during this period.

2. Get real about income

Jeju immigrants say their income is about one-third of what they used to earn in Seoul. They also say that it takes determination to change jobs or start a new career. Make sure you are ready for it and be honest with yourself. If possible, investigate income opportunities during your trial run.

Hong Chang-wook, 36 years old, who works as a freelancer managing the general affairs of his neighborhood, says the first thing he heard from the boss at his first job in Jeju was that he would receive 200,000 won less than the contracted salary. “Average salary in Jeju is less than in Seoul and, of course, there are fewer job opportunities,” he says.

3. Do your homework

Lee Sang-geun, 37, a designer, recommends learning about farming techniques even if you are not thinking about earning a living through agriculture. Lee believes such knowledge is one of the best ways to learn about Jeju, not to mention an effective method for getting to know the neighbors and networking with the islanders. Farming is also one of the most promising businesses to pursue in Jeju, says Lee. Moreover, Jeju immigrants advise looking for programs where you can learn about the history and culture of Jeju, such as the school for haenyeo (female divers who make their living diving for seafood).

4. Success requires devotion

You are likely to fail if you move to the island with only the idea of establishing a cafe in an attractive location with a nice view. According to Jeju immigrants, many of the newcomers consider starting up a cafe or guesthouse, thinking it will bring them both money and peace and quiet. However, they say these are businesses that need owners’ care seven days a week in order to succeed. Choi Eun-byeol, 35, who operates a cafe in Jeju, says, “So many cafes open up and close down in a blink of an eye on the island, as they do in Seoul.”

She implores others to drop the fantasy and be ready to fully devote themselves to their businesses.

5. Contribute to the community

For islanders, immigrants can be unwelcome guests. Never expect an islander to kindly approach you with a helping hand without being asked. They say it is important to find an area where you can contribute to the neighborhood and society as a whole.

Kwon Hyeong-woo, 55, who operates a guesthouse on the island, says, “It is important to form a friendly relationship with the islanders in your neighborhood. Try to win their hearts by participating in their family events or helping them out in necessary situations. A polite greeting to a passerby is a must.”

By Jeon Young-sun []
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