I was born in Miami and grew up in the metropolitan South Florida area. It was a place I never considered moving away from despite how much it began to annoy me. The traffic, the crowds, the crime. I was done with it.
You would think I would have chosen a small town to start over in but I was drawn to Seoul, South Korea after visiting my brother there. From the moment I stepped off the plane, I just felt like I belonged there. It was a feeling I had never before had in my entire life.
You might be wondering if there is a difference between these two large and iconic world-famous cities besides the fact that one is on the Ocean while the other is landlocked or that one is in Asia and one is in America.
Well, duh. Here are the differences of living in two major big cities on completely different continents on completely opposite sides of the world.
1. Less crime
Before I moved away from Florida, I had been living in North Miami. I can’t tell you how many nights I would hear gunshots somewhere 11 stories below. Despite being in a big city, I felt so much safer in Seoul.
I would walk around by myself all the time. There was only one time I felt threatened in Seoul. In Miami and the entire South Florida area, I had felt threatened so many times I lost count.
2. More people
Seoul had a population of 9.86 million in 2015. For the Miami-Dade area, the population in 2015 was 2.69 million. Oddly, the crowds in Seoul bothered me so much less. Perhaps because there was more courtesy involved between strangers than I was used to.
3. Awesome mass transit
South Florida was a place I would never use public transit. I have seen people waiting there forever for a bus that rarely makes it on time (I know, I have a dear friend who takes it) and traffic is always insane on I-95 and the Palmetto.
While Seoul and Miami share crazy traffic, Seoul has an incredible subway system. And because it is a safer place, it is far less threatening than Miami.
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Both places offer some diversity in language. Living in Miami, I had to rely on my Spanish skills that I learned in school in many cases. But even with loads of Spanish-speaking friends to practice with, Spanish when it is spoken at you quickly is really tough to follow.
What I liked about Miami though was that I constantly heard a variety of languages while I would be out on South Beach from French to Russian to German and beyond. In Korea, I heard Korean. I would sometimes hear Chinese and Japanese on the subway and I realized I would come a long way when I could tell the difference between all three of them.
5. The culture
Miami’s culture is very worldly. You have got such a dazzling array of beautiful people from beautiful countries all over the world so it has that wondrous charm to it. Seoul however just has Korean culture.
Do not get me wrong… I loved living there. I loved the culture. But seeing the world through Korean lenses is a very filtered way of looking at it. I definitely missed the mixture of culture while I was away.
There was also a feeling of exclusion where I often felt like I couldn’t fully be a part of the culture because I am an American. If not for the amazing expat community there, this would have really bothered me.
6. The technology
One of the most surprising things to me when I first went to Seoul was how modern things were. I felt like they had us beat at technology. Internet and cell phones were faster and better. And things were just more productive over there as a whole.
7. The prices
And finally, I will leave you with one of my favorite things about the difference between these two incredible cities. Miami is an expensive place, and Seoul can be too, however when it came to buying certain things, Seoul was the winner hands-down.
I could walk into any convenience store and buy a nice bottle of Korean rice wine for roughly $2.50. I could buy 10 pairs of earrings for $10. I could go out to eat for $10-$12 and be so full I couldn’t move. I could grab street food while running through the subway stations for less than $2. I really missed that.
Have you ever been to Miami? How about Seoul? Tell me what you thought!