At the very end of July, Elicia and I became car owners to help us fully enjoy our time spent here in Korea. We arrived in April and for the first four months, we successfully utilized Korea’s amazing public transportation systems including the network of Yeosu city buses, the timely and dependable inter-city buses, trains, and ferries for island-hopping. Yeosu is a very mountainous area (much like the rest of the country) and our apartment is several miles from our school, with a mountain right in the middle of us. As a result, we relied on the city bus to get us to and from our schools. This wasn’t a problem, really, but slightly inconvenient because Elicia’s school is way, way up the mountain, so it demanded a pretty tough walk in the mornings and after school to go up and down a mountain for 10 minutes each way in the scorching summer heat. Other minor details included the five minute walk to the bus stop in the AM, wait for 5-15 minutes for the bus, and $1 each way per person for the bus. Walking could have been a solution, but it would be 55-60 minutes each way. Pretty tough in this hot and sticky weather.
We purchased a 1997 Hyundai Avante with just 141,000 KM (86,000 miles) on it! We got a great deal, and the people we bought it from were a married couple originally from India but they moved to Yeosu three years ago because he was an engineer for Samsung in Yeosu’s large Industrial Complex. We were looking for a car for a few weeks for a few reasons. We knew it would allow us to avoid the bus before and after work. More importantly, it would give us FREEDOM on the weeknights to explore Yeosu even more without waiting for buses and trying to figure out a cheap way to get around (taxis are cheap, but $3-5 each trip can really add up!) With a car, we could provide rides for our fellow expats living in Yeosu. On the weekends, we wouldn’t need to walk 25 minutes to the bus terminal, then take the inter-city buses (also known as Loser Cruisers). Now being car owners, we can pack up our things and head out for our weekend get-a-ways with ease, in comfort, and on our own time schedule. The mornings are no longer rushed. Instead, we can leave 20 minutes later and drive to school while bumping to some tunes. Now that is freedom!
Oh, by the way, it will even allow us to save some money. We were fortunate to pay for the car up-front. No loan needed, thank goodness. Car insurance in Korea is a bit different in that you need it before you purchase the car, so we paid for one year of insurance up-front, and the rates are slightly cheaper than in USA in my opinion. A full tank of gas is about $85 USD and that takes us about 600km total. Elicia and I would often spend $12-$15 each per person for a one-way ticket to visit our friends two+ hours away. Now, we just hop in our car. We’re able to see more of Korea, listen to music, ride in comfort, enjoy the open roads, and arrive earlier than the buses without having to rely on the bus schedules. By using our car, we now avoid having expenses for taxis, city buses and inter-city buses. And after we are finished teaching here in Korea, we will be able to sell this car to the next lucky owner, getting some return on our ‘investment’. So, needless to say, getting a car in Korea has been a great decision! In the weeks and months ahead, it will give us easier access and allow us to see more cool stuff like this:
Yes, indeed, we’ve done some amazing things in the first few months. Now with a car, I’m more confident we’ll be able to find several more hidden treasures in Korea that were once difficult to visit if relying on the bus routes and schedules.
Let the good times roll!