Dreaming of moving to Korea someday, or just love nosing around other people’s places? You’re not alone! Let’s take a closer look at the rental market in Korea.
While there are websites and apps to help search for apartments, the housing market moves quickly in Seoul so real estate agents, or budongsan, should become your best friend. Some agents will meet you and take you to the house rather than expect you to find it yourself. Agents are known to contact existing tenants and arrange flat views with short notice, so don’t be surprised if there are tenants awkwardly hanging around a flat you’re viewing.
Most foreigners who are new to Korea head for studio apartments, also known as officetel. They’re like the classic UK bedsit – your living, dining and bedroom are generally combined into one room. If you work for a large Korean school, or teach with EPIK, you’ll likely get an apartment of this size thrown in rent-free. They tend to be more newly-built than other places, but are a compact size at around 200 square feet. This blogger has a fairly typical setup with monthly rent around £385, and maintenance fees £40. Her deposit was a whopping £3,500!
For cheap options in Seoul, villa-style apartments are a good bet. They’re older than officetel buildings, around two to five stories high, and usually don’t have elevators. Rent starts around £600 a month, and may be furnished or part-furnished. Take a peek at one in the popular area of Hongdae here.
Still curious about the cheapest possible option? You need to see a goshiwon. These tiny dorm-style apartments are usually rented by students, and have shared communal spaces. You get a bed, desk, closet, mini-fridge, TV, and some storage space for a bargain £180 a month. Some even offer free kimchi and rice.
The further out of Seoul you go, you’ll get a bigger place for a better price. This blogger had a huge two-bedroom place out in the sticks, and her vid compares it with the typical studio, one bedroom and two bedroom flats in the area.
Once you’ve spotted the place of your dreams, there’s two more important things to know about renting in Korea.
The first is your deposit. Just like in the UK, this is money you’ll have to pay upfront on top of your first month’s rent. However, it’s a much pricer hit than the UK, as it can range from about £3,500 to £18,000, though you will get it back when you move out.
The second is if you’ve got a stockpile of cash, you might want to consider the jeonse system. Hand over an annual deposit from £26,000 to £90,000 and up, and you don’t have to pay a monthly rent while you’re living there. The owner gives this money back in full when you move out.