In June 2005- June 2006, while stationed in Seoul, Korea, I had a reality check in the cost of living in one of the most expensive cities in the world. Seoul is included in the top 30% of the most expensive cities globally, ranked 2,788th out of 9,294 on living costs.
As a Senior leader in the military, I was required to find an apartment, and I could have a vehicle. On a side note, the U.S. Army’s lower enlisted personnel cannot have personally owned cars in Korea. However, I could get a Korean license (having a U.S. drives license).
I was shocked at the prices in rent and the overall cost of living. Specifically, the limited number of apartments available meant landlords could increase rent, and security deposits and utilities were about average.
Nevertheless, I found an apartment with the assistance of a realtor, where I had to pay a $2,400 security deposit, $4,800 for the first and second months’ rent, totaling $7,200. I had to pay an additional $175 for realtor fees, installment fees, utilities, and cable and internet. As such, monthly rent totaled $3200 (includes utilities, cable and internet).
By the way, I spent the first 11 days in a Korean hotel, which cost $110 a day, not including meals (Breakfast, lunch, and dinner) and transportation costs (It took two months for me to get a car).
Those first 10 days, I had the stress of looking for a place to live, figuring out how to get to work (in a foreign country), and what I would be doing at work. I wasn’t prepared for the responsibilities at work, and I didn’t know anyone in the organization (and they didn’t know me).
In addition, my savings and checking accounts took a hit, which I was NOT prepared for (No one told me about these fees, living costs, transportation issues, language barrier, paperwork matters, and so on).
Welcome to the Real World
Someone said, “you can describe the “real world” as the place in which one actually must live and the circumstances with which one actually must deal.”
I’ve heard many people speak about the real world; for instance, college professors will tell freshmen students that they are no longer under their parents’ umbrella; therefore, welcome to the real world.
Nevertheless, earlier I mentioned that no one told me I would have to pay those fees; the cost of living, transportation issues, etc.
Pay attention to those well-known words, “No one told me______.” Once you leave home and away from your support networks (friends, family, and associates), you are going to have to figure it out.
That’s the real world – no one told me…. doesn’t work. You have a job, you have a career, you have bills, essentially responsibilities.
However, entering the real world looks like this….
- You have the freedom to doing nothing (no job + no career = no income).
- You have the freedom to commit crimes (you’ll go to jail or prison).
- You have the freedom to drink alcohol all night (drinking yourself to death).
- You have the freedom to have a kid(s) (you’ll pay child support or get child support).
- You will fail even when you have given your best (no one will be there to pat you on the back).
- You will not get the job you wanted (although you think you are qualified).
- You will get your feelings hurt (no one gives a damn).
- You will have regrets (deal with it)
- You will lose hope (at that point – call your mother).
I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I’ve had trying to figure it out. For instance, figuring out the cost of living, taxes (federal and state taxes), insurance (life, health care, renters, & vehicle), travel coordination’s, business deals, credit score, organizational matters, difficult people, etc… I’ve lived in North Carolina, Washington, New York, Texas, Hawaii, Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana and Korea in a span of a 21 year military career.
Difficult people and bureaucratic red tape can be among the top stressors.
Asking for Help
The ability to reach out to different organizations, networks, friends, and family can not be overstated. Some people are there to help you figure it out; essentially, those organizations and systems were created so that the processes could be more effective and efficient.
The military has programs and organizations that help service members with pay issues, housing, transportation, family matters, and a host of other programs. Colleges and Universities have programs, advisors, and networks that are there to assist students and faculty.
In our society, there are organizations, businesses, and networks that are created with the goals of helping people with their day-to-day professional and personal affairs, objectives, and future plans.
Yet, no one is going to knock on your door, call you, text message you, send you an email to address your problem(s) (whether it’s professional or personal). You are going to have to reach out and seek out those resources.
Its your fault, if you fail.
Again (it’s the real world), no one gives a damn about your struggles, pain, difficulties, needs, etc… (hell, not even your friends).
You must build up those attributes (i.e., resilience, drive, grit, courage, adaptability, curiosity) to figure it out. I’ve learned to do the following in almost any situation in my life….
- Assess your situation;
- Identify the problem;
- Apply the necessary skills to deal with the problem;
- Apply those skills
- Evaluate whether it worked.
The life you are living now is an example of the real world, as opposed to the life you wish you were living. That said, if you are single, married (new baby), divorced – working, unemployed, or retired; basically, whatever your situation; that’s your reality.
Remember, No one is coming to save you! Whatever your situation—be able to reach out and ask for help. People are willing and able to support you. Reach out and ask!