We’ve officially spent our first full week in Songdo and I’ve gathered a lot of tips that would have been handy to know. I’ve split them up into separate posts to avoid it getting too long.
First up, grocery shopping. I struggled with this and spent the first few days (well, the days I wasn’t ill and sleeping all day and night) buying bits and pieces on a meal-to-meal basis from local stores. Whilst easy, it isn’t the most budget friendly way to go.
Don’t come with preconceptions of how much things (cleaning products, produce, food etc) should cost. I find that everything, especially fresh fruit and vegetables, is more expensive here. I haven’t checked out any produce markets yet – I believe there is one not so far away in Incheon – but in the supermarkets, everything comes in huge packages and with a heftier-than-at-home price tag attached.
When you arrive, apart from the immediate necessities, I’d actually give the smaller convenience stores a miss and head straight to Lotte, right by Oakwood on the Convensia-Dareo, when you get here. You’ll find a small piece of home, with foods you recognise, potential alternatives and the odd couple of English signs to help you get along your way.
At Lotte, you’ll find everything you need to set up your apartment until your shipment arrives – from soaps, laundry products, DIY products to food. You’ll also find things that you didn’t know you needed – chair socks anyone?
Important: If you are a tea drinker, then bring a big stash with you. Very few places stock English Breakfast tea bags and when you do find them, much like everything else, it’s expensive. I’m planning on having a care package from home sent over when stocks are running low…
However, don’t put all your eggs in the Lotte basket. A bit of shopping around will bring up gems in Emart (a kind of department store with a mix of everything) and Homeplus (Tesco – rebranded – with an imported goods aisle). Annoyingly, I found certain things are better priced in each of the different stores, so I think I’ll be visiting all three on a regular basis.
And just for fun, there are the more unusual products that will give you a bit of a giggle…
Obviously not everything that you are used to is available, so when packing your shipment remember the following things:
- Seasoning packets (especially for Mexican food)
- Cleaning Wipes / sponges / dish scrubs etc
- Tea (I can’t say that enough) and instant coffee
- Deodorant and other toiletries – you can get everything you need here but perhaps not all the brands you are used to
Now getting to the various grocery stores is another matter, but that’s a story for a different post… along with making stuff from scratch using the ingredients available here, finding hobbies and whatever else pops up along the way.