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Housing in Korea - Foreigner Edition

Updated: May 24, 2022

Finding suitable accommodation in a foreign country can be a hassle. Especially in Korea, where housing prices increase on the regular, it is not easy to prepare yourself for the reality of the market. That is why understanding the basics of the local house rental systems should not be overlooked. Here are three valuable tips on how to begin your house-hunting in Korea.

Below are some foreigner-friendly tips to ease your house-hunting in Korea.

1. Consider the length of your stay

People move to Korea for various reasons and this often determines the amount of time they are to spend in the country. For example, foreign students enrolled in Korean universities usually are expected to study here between two to four years, depending on their degree. On the other hand, those who come to Korea to study the language tend to spend one or two semesters in the country. Length of stay matters when considering suitable accommodation options mostly because of Korea's deposit-based property rental system. Namely, renting a place for more than a year allows you to deposit a large sum of money (around KRW 5-10 mln) which decreases the monthly rent. The reason why rent is cheaper that way is because the landlord receives the interest of the deposit money from the bank, thus benefitting both sides of the lease agreement!

2. Get to know the city

In Korea, the difference in the standard of living between Seoul and the rest of the country is quite severe. The same applies to the various neighborhoods and regions within Seoul. Not to mention, the capital city is huge and, despite its high-functioning transportation system, commuting from point A to point B can sometimes take forever. That is why it is important to research the area where your occupation is and try to find accommodation nearby. If that is not an option due to financial reasons, familiarizing yourself with the subway stations around your university or workplace should be your next priority. For example, Sillm (신림) station is a relatively cheaper region to live in which has excellent subway connections with some of Seoul's hot spots like Hongdae or Gangnam as it is located on Subway Line 2.

3. Calculate your budget

Evaluating your financial situation prior to initiating the search for a new home is vital in any part of the world. In Korea, however, there are certain factors to consider in addition to rent prices that foreigners are sometimes unaware of. Besides the aforementioned deposit, another species of the Korean housing rental system is the so-called "maintenance fee (관리비)". This fee is often between KRW 50,000-100,000 and it mostly covers general building expenses such as the elevator's electric consumption, etc. This being said, it rarely includes the expenses of the actual apartment you are renting, although it may sometimes cover Internet or water charges. In addition to establishing how much the maintenance fee is and what it covers, you might want to ask your landlord about how much you need to pay for bills beforehand. Since expenses nearly double in winter and in summer due to gas and AC consumption, you should inquire in detail about what to expect during these two seasons. Lastly, pay attention to any additional expenses mentioned in the lease contract such as cleaning fees upon moving out, repair fees, contract fees as well as late rent penalties.


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South Korea

Author: Margarita Kichukova

Editor: Yousra Feriel Drioua

© World Reporters - 2021.22

All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored, or transmitted in any form or by any means without the permission of The Create Your Korea team.

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