Ever since our arrival, Jen and I have basically planned on doing two years here. We’re half way through and I’m beginning to think about what to do a year from now. A lot of people I know have gone back home to the States, and it seems like plenty of other people are planning to leave. Why? The more I think about it, moving back to the US would be a huge financial risk.
I plan to have ~$10,000 saved up by the end of my next contract. As soon as I arrive in the US, it will begin to disappear. The first thing I’ll have to do is buy a car, because you can’t get a job in the US without one. A car means extra financial costs like gasoline, insurance and maintenance, plus a lot of extra stress. Then I’ll have to plunk down a deposit for an apartment and start paying rent.
Then I have to hope I land a job with a reasonable salary. With a car and the fact that I have to pay for my own apartment, I estimate I’ll need to make 50 percent more per year than I do in Korea. Yeah, I spend like a rock star here, but I also don’t have to pay for my housing or a car. Transportation, internet and doctor visits are all very cheap here. Going back into credit card debt looks like a very real possibility, even if I have a job.
Let me also re-emphasize the sobering fact that, thanks to a bunch of loud-mouths at town hall meetings and the distressingly ineffective government who does what they say, I won’t have easy, affordable access to doctors and dentists. This means everything I do becomes a risk. Playing sports? I’m pushing 30 and have seen more than one friend tear an ACL during casual athletic activities. Car accident? “Don’t take me in the ambulance, I can only afford to hitchhike.” Candy at the movies? I’d better not risk a cavity.
Meanwhile, I really don’t want to make a career out of ESL. Especially not in Korea, where none of my experience counts for anything outside of the country.
One thing’s for sure: I’m going to have to start taking some risks in the not-too-distant future.