You have your orders and are ready to pack up and move, now what to bring?
I’ve been there. We were living in a small apartment in Kansas City before and weren’t as much concerned with whether things would fit into our new Korean home but more with what we should go buy before we leave the States. However, I’ve learned a lot so far about what families wished they had brought with them and I want to share it with you in my list of top 10 things to bring.
01. Bring your own mattress
The housing office gave us furniture including a bed and a mattress, which was very hard and stiff. Whereas some people prefer that, I don’t. I was so happy when we got ours.
02. Bring all your 220v stuff (kitchen ware, hair dryer etc.) in case you have been stationed in Europe or other countries before, that use 220.
If you hold off on the purchase of a new camera or another gadget. Don’t! Many people believe Korea is much cheaper than it really is (especially when it comes to electronics). If you find a good deal for your favorite DSLR camera at home, go get it in the States.
04. Unlocked phone
If you just got a new phone before you found out about your move to Korea then don’t worry, see if you can get it unlocked and you will be good to go here.
05. Ladies, bring the bras and panties!
If you are bigger than a size 6 or 8 or if you are small but have a bigger chest in general, go shopping to your favorite lingerie shop before your move to Korea and bring ‘em all along. Sure you can always order them online later or find some in the bigger PXs here, however, the selection is limited. In any case bring your “glamorous starter kit”.
If you are of a smaller build than you will be just fine here.
06. The same goes for shoes.
If you wear a size 8 or bigger then you won’t have much luck finding some here. Again, you can always go to the bigger PXs like the one in Yongsan (Seoul) or order them online, however, if you are particular about the style of your shoes. Bring all your favorite ones.
If you wear shoes smaller than size 8.5 you will have plenty shoes to choose from.
07. If you have small children or are expecting, bring the kid’s furniture. (Especially baby furniture). According to “The Seoul Survivor”, a guide published by the American Forces’ Spouses’ Club, the Furnishing Management Office does not have cribs, toddler beds, changing tables etc.
08. Don’t plan on bringing appliances; the housing office will provide washer, dryer, refrigerators, dishwasher etc. If you leave appliances in storage make sure they are stored properly, so they don’t rust or get moldy over the time you are here in Korea.
If you have bicycles, bring them. (Bring helmets too, you’ll need them here. Koreans are interesting drivers and not very used to bicycles on the road.) Koreans love hiking, walking and biking by the river. They have built trails by the river for walking and biking. Also you might live very close to base and only have one car, then a bicycle comes in handy. Your husband could bike to work if you need the car to go on a longer drive.
10. Bring your rugs
Floors are generally not covered with carpet here in Korea. So if you like the cozy feeling of walking on a soft rug, then make sure to bring yours.
An extra but important side note:
Leave some stuff at home!
Now this has to be one of the most important advices I can give you: Leave some stuff at home!
Generally speaking, the apartments here are small and don’t offer storage space (like a basement room for bikes or boxes). That being said, if you currently live in a house and have it fully furnished then you probably don’t want to bring all of the furniture, since you most likely will end up in a smaller place. Think about which furniture items you can’t live without and leave the rest in storage.
To finish this post, it’s needless to say to make sure to bring the stuff that makes you and your family happy.
I for example brought my shell decoration and my lotus flower shell candleholder, as well as the antique wine glass ‘balloon’ from Germany. I also brought my colorful filing system from home, the rug that our dog loves to hang out on and many other small decoration items and kitchen stuff that remind me of our last duty station or important places and times in our lives. It’s the little things that make us happy and make our new home cozy.
From favorite pictures and your traditional Christmas table set to the can’t-live-without-crafting- tools for the passionate ‘crafties’ among us, BRING IT!
Not only that holiday decoration items and craft supply stores are harder to come by here, it is also important for us to bring what’s dear to our hearts.
In this very new, very different environment it is essential to create a feel good home for our loved ones and us.
Now, happy packing!