Apart from being a popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia, Busan is also home to a large expat community. Whether these residents are there to work in education, business, industry, or other vocations, members of Busan’s expat community have come together to help make Busan a welcoming place for foreign residents.
Busan is divided up into districts (gu), which are further separated into neighbourhoods (dong). If an area has the suffix '-gu' it’s a larger area made up of various dong. If the name has '-dong' at the end of it, then it refers to a specific neighbourhood.
While the choice of which neighbourhood to live in will depend largely upon where new arrivals are working, below are some of the most popular expat areas of Busan.
Popular expat areas in Busan
Haeundae District (Haeundae-gu) contains some of the more foreigner-friendly neighbourhoods in the city. There’s a large variety of shops and restaurants catering to both Korean and foreign tastes. Residents can also enjoy being adjacent to the beaches and coastal parks of the area, and nearby Jangsan Mountain is a popular hiking destination.
Haeundae is also one of the more family-friendly areas of Busan. There are several international schools in the area.
While affordable housing can be found here, the general cost of living is slightly higher than in other parts of the city. The area can also become congested with tourists, especially in the summer.
Centum City and Marine City
Just down the coast from Haeundae Beach, these two areas have become two of the most prestigious areas to live and work in the entire city. Both are located just two metro stops away from each other.
Centum City has become a hub of both commerce and entertainment. While living in high-rise apartments, residents can take a short walk to Shinsaegae Department Store, the Busan Museum of Art, the Busan Exhibition and Convention Center, the Busan Cinema Center, and other attractions.
Marine City is a collection of high-rise luxury apartments on the coast near the mouth of the Suyeong River with its own set of shops, parks, and restaurants. It’s a small community unto itself.
Gwangan has become one of the most popular gathering spots for foreigners. Gwangalli Beach, with its iconic view of the Diamond Bridge, is a popular hangout among both Koreans and expats, day or night.
The beach features many seaside cafés and restaurants for residents to enjoy. The number of affordable housing options have increased considerably as more apartment buildings are continually being constructed and renovated. While not as trendy as more upscale areas of the city, there are several expat bars in the area. Cheaper accommodation and many entertainment options make this a popular area for younger expats.
Pusan National University
Pusan National University is one of ten national universities in Korea. Its main campus is conveniently located in the north-central part of the city. One of the original hubs of Busan expat social life, the area remains a destination for music, art, food, and culture. People living in this area can easily get to other areas in the northern part of the city such as Oncheonjang Hot Springs, Geumjeong Fortress, and Sajik Baseball Stadium.
The downtown area of Busan is a convenient central area with access to any part of the city. Located at the junction of Metro Lines 1 and 2, people living in Seomyeon will discover the commute around Busan to be easy.
While businesses in this area don’t specifically cater to foreign patrons as much as more tourist-friendly parts of the city, the area still offers plenty of options for food and shopping. In particular, Jeonpo Café Street has many food and drink options and has become a trendy gathering spot.
There are also many affordable apartment options. Residents living in this area would be just one metro stop away from the Busan Citizens Park, the Dream Theater, and the Busan International Finance Center.
►For more information on finding housing in the city, read Accommodation in Busan
►Education and Schools in Busan provides an overview of schooling in the city
"As an expat the places that are most expat friendly are near the beaches on the east part of town, namely the neighbourhoods of Haeundae and Gwangan. The Kyungsung University is a very popular hangout for younger expats." Read more about Jenna, an American expat, and her experience moving to Busan in her interview.
Photo credits: Residences of Busan by Sam Balye. Sourced from Unsplash.
Are you an expat living in Busan?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Busan. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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