A Guide To Make Finding The Right Housing In South Korea A Bit Easier - Don’t Get Scammed Or Settle Too Soon
Despite the hardships and confusion you will have to endure, you have decided to go to Korea. That alone makes you brave. However, be warned, it could very well be an uphill battle from here on out. Finding housing in Korea is hard, especially for those university students who will receive little to no support from their schools. The majority of foreign-employed workers will receive aid, but this article will try to make it easier for everyone who has to do it alone. The first step is to…
Make Your List
You read right. It's time for you to act like Santa and make your list. Make a list of your wants, needs, and priorities. This can be a physical list that you write or type up or it can be a mental list. Anything is better than nothing, but a physical list might be better, especially if you like to scratch things out. This list will keep you focused and more grounded as you look for a suitable place. If you don’t plan to stay in Korea very long, you might not need an extensive list.
Here are some questions you might ask yourself when making your list:
Location & Neighborhood:
- Do I need my place to be near the subway or bus station because I hate driving?
- Do I need my place to be close to my job or school so I can sleep in a bit?
- Do I want my place to be near grocery stores, parks, and recreational activities because I hate walking but need something to do?
- Do I want to stay in a quiet neighborhood or in the middle of a bustling city life?
Size & Layout & View:
- How spacious do I need my place to feel in order to keep my sanity?
- Am I ok with eating, sleeping, and working in the same space, or do I want at least one more room?
- Would I prefer to live in a place with a balcony or outdoor space so I can feel nature?
- Do I crave natural light or beautiful sites and thus need a place with a really big window?
Building & Amenities:
- Do I want to live somewhere new or newly renovated to feel special?
- Do I want to live in a building with good soundproofing so I can get along with my noisy neighbors?
- Do I need to live in a place that has a ramp and elevator for wheelchairs, strollers, or just because I don’t like/have trouble taking the stairs?
- Do I need a place with a parking garage or bicycle racks?
Utilities & Appliances:
- Would I prefer to stay somewhere that is fully or at least partially furnished?
- Do I want a place that already has a refrigerator, stove, washing machine, or shoe rack?
- Do I want a place that comes with an air conditioning and heating system?
- Do I need a place that provides high-speed Wi-Fi?
Budget & Lease Terms:
- What is my budget for the deposit, monthly rent, and other housing expenses?
- Am I willing to stay at a place with roommates to reduce costs?
- Am I looking for a short-term or long-term (1 year or more) lease?
Safety & Security & Privacy
- Will I only feel comfortable living in a place only residents and staff can enter (e.g., everyone needs an issued card or code to get in the entrance)?
- Would I feel comfortable or safe in a place that cameras everywhere, or would I feel that I have no privacy/my privacy is being violated?
Hey, did you really read all that, or did you just skim? Anyways, make your list and revise it as much as you want. The list can be however long or short you want it to be, but please give some consideration to your wallet. I mean your budget…After you finish making your list, it is time to…
Utilize Your Sources - Uncover Good Korean Housing Options
So what are your sources? You could try using a Korean real estate agent (부동산 중개인). Realtors can be extremely helpful, but you might have trouble finding one that speaks English/your language. You could make it work if you speak a little Korean, bring a bilingual Korean friend, or use a translator (person or device).
If getting a realtor seems unlikely at the moment, you could always try using Korean apps and websites. Most of these Korean platforms don’t offer an English version, but you might have an easier time translating from the sites if you use some of the same methods listed above (e.g., using a translator (Google Translate)). More information is provided below:
Housing Platforms For Long-Term (1 Year or More) Stay: (May Require A Hefty Deposit)
Housing Platforms For Short-Term Stay:
- Airbnb - More Experience Oriented & Requires A Premium/ Commission Fee)
- Enkor - Affordable for longer term stay (1 Month or More)
- Naver Real Estate(네이버 부동산)
- Daum Real Estate (다음 부동산)
- Licensed Real Estate Agent Websites (공인중개사사이트)
- Google the area you want to live in and add “공인중개사” after. You’ll get more options just by searching in Korean.
These apps and websites can be very helpful for finding housing in Korea, but keep in mind some of these platforms can have fake listings and/or misleading photos. Also, landowners don’t speak English and may be reluctant to have foreign-speaking tenants. You won’t have these issues if you use Enkor!
Know The Terms & Know Your Options
Korean Words & Phrases
In Korea, deposits (보증금) are also referred to as “key money” and “key deposit”.
1 Pyeong = 35.58 square feet or 3.31 square meters.
Korean Payment Types
Wolse월세 - a monthly rent payment system where the renter puts down a deposit and pays monthly rent to the landlord; this a system you might be familiar with. Typically the higher your deposit, the lower your rent and the same is true vice versa (the lower your deposit, the higher your rent). This option is most common among foreigners, but keep in mind, deposits can be very high in Korean cities, especially Seoul.
Jeonse전세 - a deposit-based or key money-based payment method. Typically, the renter would get a loan from the bank and pay the landlord a deposit that equals about 50-80% of the property. In return for the high deposit, the renter would not have to pay monthly rent, just interest to the bank they took the loan from, which was often cheaper. This is a system very unique to Korea, but it is quickly losing popularity due to the rising interest rates causing interest to equal or exceed the monthly rent you would have to pay in another system (e.g., wolse).
It has always been harder for foreigners to use the _Jeonse_payment system because of 1) the high barrier of entry, and 2) little to no access to traditional Korean financial facilities willing to lend foreigners a loan of this size for leasing purposes. It might be possible if you already have a lot of money laying around or if you have a Korean partner who can get the loan, but it is best to avoid the system altogether.
Ban Jeonse/Half Jeonse반전세 - Ban Jeonse or Half Jeonse is a mix between _jeonse_and wolse. In this payment system, the deposit is usually 30% to 40% of the property's value, and the monthly rent is also reduced.
Korean Housing Types
Space Type: Studio
Setup/Layout: very small and compact room with shared facilities outside.
Deposit Range (Wolse): ₩ 1 - 5 Million KRW
Monthly Rent Range (Wolse): ₩ 200,000 - 500,000 KRW
One Room (Studio):
Space type: Studio
Setup/Layout: Similar to a studio apartment. Combined facilities.
Deposit Range (Wolse): ₩ 5 to 20 Million KRW
Monthly Rent Range (Wolse): ₩ 300,000 to 1 Million KRW
Shared Houses (Living With Roommates):
Number of Rooms: your own private room plus shared living spaces
Setup/Layout: Mostly in villas and apartments
Deposit Range: ₩ 1 - 10 Million KRW
Monthly Rent Range: ₩ 200,000 - 1 Million KRW
Officetels (Studio / 1 BR):
Number of Rooms: Studio or One Bedroom
Setup/Layout: smaller and more compact than apartments and villas.
Deposit Range (Wolse): ₩ 10 to 30 Million KRW
Monthly Rent Range (Wolse): ₩ 400,000 to 1.5 million KRW
Villas (2-3 BR):
Number of Rooms: (2-3) - the number varies
Setup/Layout: Like an apartment but with more space and maybe more outdoor areas.
Deposit Range: ₩ 10 - 30 Million KRW
Monthly Rent Range: ₩ 300,000 - 1.5 Million KRW
Apartments (2-4 BR):
Number of Rooms: Typical 2 - 4, but can be more or less.
Setup/Layout: Separate facilities. (Your kitchen and bedroom are not in the same place.)
Deposit Range: ₩ 10 - 50 Million Korean won (KRW) or more.
Monthly Rent Range: ₩ 500,000 to Several Million KRW
Types of Apartments: Regular, Serviced Apartments, Student Apartments, Foreigner Apartments
Prices can vary significantly depending on size and location. You may find more details here.
Know Your Next Steps: Don’t Get Scammed Or Settle Too Soon
The Korean housing market moves very quickly. Many advise against trying to find an apartment early (e.g., one to two months in advance). Although it might seem stressful, two to three weeks in advance is your best bet (though some say even that is too early). This is how most Koreans do it as well. Because the housing market moves so fast in Korea, you might feel pressure to make a choice. While it is best to get the apartment you like as soon as possible (apartments can and do go quickly), you should not feel obligated to choose a housing option you don’t want for reasons such as, “the place will be taken by another student/worker if you don’t get it now.” At the end of the day, this is the place you have to live. Do not let anyone pressure you into choosing an apartment or housing option you are not comfortable with.
When you do find a place you want to live at, there are several things you can do to make sure you are not being scammed:
1. Get a copy of the building’s registration online, from your realtor, or at the local community center for cheap.
- Ensure the name and ID number or your landlord’s ID matches the information on the building’s registration.
- Verify that the building and/or your unit is registered correctly to prevent potential legal disputes later on.
- Check the amount of debt your landlord owes their creditors. It could foreshadow the creditors taking over or your landlord not having enough money to pay back your deposit.
2. Get your Move-in Report (AKA Jonip Singoseo). Your landlord should be willing and able to provide you with this document. to verify that you are the one renting the apartment. You will need this document to…
- Prove you are the one renting the apartment.
- Provide proof of residence for your alien registration card (ARC), which you will need to legally live in Korea for more than 90 days.
- Report your move to immigration within two weeks to avoid getting fined.
- Register your housing contract at a local communication center to ensure that even if your landlord goes bankrupt, you can still get paid your deposit (you will also need to bring your ARC).
3. The rest of my advice is pretty straightforward
- Take before and after pictures of everything
- Look through the place thoroughly. Check for potential health hazards (e.g., mold)
- Read your contract thoroughly & don’t sign it until you understand everything
- Make sure the terms disguised were included in the contract.
Hopefully, you stayed to the end, and now, I get to tell you a little about us and what we can offer.
Enkor has …
- Pay-as-you-go model: This means you don’t have to worry about paying a large deposit fee or any deposit period. You can just pay rent instead even for a short-term lease. There are free installments as well.
- Cheaper longer-term stay compared to short-term optimized platforms with premiums paid on “experience”
- Fully furnished.
- English-speaking staff and hosts: Our service team can help you throughout the process.
- Official housing contracts: This can be used to sign up for ARC, self-identification, etc. Bestie, this is nearly impossible if you stay somewhere that focuses on experiences.