Ultimate Guide to the Housing Types in Korea
In this guide you will learn about all the accommodation types available in Korea, we decided to put all of them in one guide to improve readability but it might be a bit heavy so make sure to check the content table on the right if you are interested in one type particularly. We tried to range them from the least to the most expensive!
Please note that we did not include accommodation types in which it is common to stay for a week or less such as hotels, guest houses, or Airbnb.
Now that you are all set let's proceed with the list!
If you are a student, chances are that your university offers dormitories in and out campus.
Source: SKKU University
It is by far the least expensive way to live in Korea, especially in Seoul. You will live inside the campus so it is convenient to go to class or participate in local activities. You will share a room and a bathroom with up to 4 other students and you will have access to the universities restaurants to eat. These dormitories often include a curfew at night and you mustn't go out on some days (in Kookmin university a room check-up is made every Monday) and the men and women live on separate floors.
Price – It usually ranges at around 600 000 KRW per semester
Convenience - Living on campus is the best way to never miss a class! You will quikly get used to your new life and you can easily reach for help if needed
Security – It can be reassuring, especially if you are not used of living by your own and not comfortable in Korean
Rules and restriction – Follow the curfew, can’t invite friends over, etc
Shared space – You will share almost everything with little to no time alone
Room Space - The rooms are usually small
Source: Stay For U Sindang
These dormitories are more expensive and located further away from your university, some of them are even in really good locations! You will share a room and bathroom with 1 to 3 other persons. You will have access to a shared kitchen where you can often get some basic food for free (rice, instant noodles, etc) and a resting places in which you can bond with the other tenants. The rules are less strict and you won't need to care about the curfew in these.
Price – way pricier than an on-campus dormitory, the price is still fair, count around 300 000~400 000KRW per month
Community - Having more space and common resting places help to bond between tenants
Shared room – Even if the rooms are bigger you still have to share them, let's hope that you will get a good roommate!
Common kitchen - This is a two edged sword, in one way you can gt free food, in another way it can be crowded or left dirty by some of the tenants
Source: “Move To Heaven”
A goshiwon is a convenient Korean private room, primarly made for students during finals period but also used as main residence for low income individuals.
Forget contracts and deposits you can come and stay without those, and most of the goshiwons accept short term stays of a week or so. They are cheap and all the utilities fees are included in your rent, moreover they often give out basic free food such as rice. But it goes with its fair dose of downsides as well...
The room are small and often windowless, the kitchen and bathroom are almost always shared with the same floor tenants. And you will get to know them even if you don't want to as the walls are thin as paper!
Price – One of the cheapest way to live in Korea, 300 000~450 000KRW per month
Flexibility - Not having to go through paperwork and deposits can save a lot of time, you will just need to give a few week notice when you plan to go out of your room
Location - you can find goshiwon everywhere, even in the most viewed neighbourhoods like Hongdae or near universities
Uncomfortable - The rooms are small, often without windows and badly isolated
Shared spaces - bathrooms and kitchen
Boarding House (Hasook 하숙)
There are several types of of rooms/property that the locals usually stay in, other than their home when they are in other district for studies or work:
Boarding houses are a common housing solution for Koreans who are studying or working in another city than their main residence. If you miss homemade food and want to speak Korean with elders this is the best solution for you! This is a system where elders rent rooms and cook for their tenants everyday. It is also a good way for ahjummas (local female elders) to get some money and company. The food is included in the rent that usually ranges of 500,000 KRW to 600,000 KRW a month.
If you speak perfect Korean and want to have a safe place to call home this might be for you, however if you wish to go out and have more freedom you might want to avoid this kind of housing.
Meals included – along with rent price, 2-3 meals included every day, one day off
Deposit – no deposit required
Price – around 500 000KRW for a private room, not much cheaper than other housing types with much more freedom and less restriction
Rules and restriction – can’t invite friends over, must not come home at late hours, etc
Shared common space – kitchen, bathroom
Language – they can’t speak English at all so make sure to have your Korean ready!
Number of tenants – there are usually 10 small rooms on a single floor
A sharhouse in Korea is just as one abroad, you will have a private or shared room according to your needs, and you will share the bathroom and all other common spaces with the other tenants of a house. Sharehouses are more affordable than studios, especially since they do not require an enormous deposit. They also allow you to easily make new friends coming from all around the world! In and out if you are not afraid to live by your own, if you want freedom, and to make friends, a sharehouse is what you need.
Luckily for you ENKOR offers many cheap sharehouses all around Seoul and nearby universities. Find your dream sharehouse here!
Price – around 400 000 to 600 000 KRW for a private room
Deposit – A two months rent deposit is required
Space - You will get a spacious house and your room is often bigger than in the previous entries.
Language – Whether you speak Korean or not, living with people from different countries will allow you to improve your language and communication skills
Shared common space – kitchen, bathroom, living room
One- Room 원룸 (Studio)
This is one of the most common accommodation in Korea in which people live by themselves. This is your typical studio apartment with a private kitchen and bathroom. If you want freedom this is the best option, but the high deposit can be complicated to afford for students.
At ENKOR we want to make studios affordable for everyone, this is why we ask our tenants to deposit 1 month worth of rent only! Click here to find your future studio.
Private space – Having a studio with a bathroom and a kitchen attached means you have the entire place for yourself
More options - you can find exactly what you want in terms of price, space, size, interior, location etc
Price – can be too pricey for a student depending on the location, usually starting from around 700,000 KRW per month
High deposit – usually ranges from 5,000,000 KRW to 20,000,000 KRW
This is the upgraded version of the studio/oneroom, they can be found in high buildings that contain both lodging and offices so white collar workers live just upstairs from their workplace! They have a private kitchen and bathroom, and more appliances than a regular one-room.
Private space – A private studio with a bathroom, a kitchen and lots of appliances
Quality - the interior is well designed and modern
Price – more pricey than a oneroom
High deposit – usually ranges from 5,000,000 KRW to 20,000,000 KRW
Office - working and living in the same exact building can be overwhelming sometimes
Villa 빌라 (Small Apartment, 2-3 Rooms)
A villa is an apartment with 2 or 3 private roomsthat you can rent with your friends. It is typically a sharehouse in which you know your roommates! Usually people agree with two or three close friends who study or work in a similar neighborhood to rent a place together as it can be more fun, cheaper and safer than living by their own. You can find villas in most small residential buildings.
But be careful who you plan this with! Who doesn't know two "best friends" that were excited to live together just to break up a month after?
Price – Usually cheaper than a studio (if you don't live there alone): For a two-room apartment, it is usually the same price as a studio
Shared space - You can have fun with your friends, and if living together goes well you will have a memorable experience
Higher deposit – For two-room, it usually ranges from 10,000,000 KRW and above, and even higher for an entire house
Time consuming – you will have to go through many real estate agencies where Korean is almost mandatory, plus you will need to agree on all terms with your future flatmates
Apartment 아파트 (Big Apartment, 2-4 Rooms)
The apartment is similar to a Villa, but bigger and usually more recent. It usually comes with 3 to 4 spacious rooms, a modern kitchen, a living room and 1 or 2 bathrooms. The high-rises you can see across residential areas are filled with this kind of apartment, and contrary to the villas, they come with facilities such as gyms, playgrounds, club rooms, etc.
It is more suited for comfortable families that are looking for a spacious apartment in a good location.
Spacious – way bigger than other shared apartments options (sharehouse, Villa)
Well designed - fully furnished beautiful interior
Security - every apartment comes with an alarm system and the whole building is secured
Facilities – swimming pools, gym, small garden are often found within the building complex
Price – this is the most expensive entry on this list
Time consuming – once again you have to go through various real estate agency, most of them being only available in Korean, you may have to pay more for similar houses if you only speak English.
Korean Real Estate Agencies / App
For some Studios 원룸 , all Villas 빌라 and Apartments 아파트 you will need to go through real estate agencies.
In order to do so you will be required to have a Residence Card (former ARC/ Alien Registration card), otherwise you won't be able to contract any house at all! All foreigners except for short term visa holders are required to apply for a Residence card (ARC) within the first 3 months of their arrival. Therefore, normally they would have to look for an alternative housing solution while waiting for their card to be delivered.
Furthermore,the contracts are usually of 1 year and longer.
There are several ways to find your desired house, you can directly go to agencies but most of the locals search through Korean websites and phone apps first. The applications here are really well made as you can filter houses by type, location, appliances, and a lot lot more!
The most commonly used are:
Naver Real Estate (네이버 부동산)
The interfaces really are user-friendly but you will need to understand Korean, otherwise your research will quickly be limited. For English support and no ARC requirement Enkor is here for you!
The Korean Rental System
The rental system in Korea is quite unique. You should know about them in order to make the best choice suited for your situation, but it can get quite confusing! So here are the three main ways to rent an apartment:
It is a unique leasing system where the tenants deposit up to 50% of the property’s value (it may sometimes go up to 60-80%) to the house owner for the lease duration. With the large deposit, the tenant does not have to pay any monthly rent, and will only have to pay for the utilities fees every month (gaz, electricity, water). The entire amount is to be refunded to the tenant at the end of the contract. However, as with any other deposit system, in case of damage to property the deposit will be used to repair the house. This kind of contract is hard to find when the interest rates are low, however with the recent inflation the interest rates are going up so we can expect that more house owners will turn to this kind of renting system.
Deposit: Very high
Monthly rent: None
It is also a unique leasing system where the tenants must leave a deposit lower than with the Jeonse (전세) system but larger than Wolse (월세), the tenant pays a relatively low monthly rent, and the utilities fees every month. Once again, the deposit will be used to repair the house in case of damaged property.
Monthly rent: Small
It is a regular deposit + monthly rent system similar to the ones you can find anywhere. This is the easiest option for students that often do not have enough money to afford giving up such large amounts for over a year.
The tenants usually sign a 1-2 years contract and pay a regular deposit of a couples of months' rent, so significantly lower than the previous systems. They must also submit a monthly rent that ranges from 400,000 KRW to 3,000,000 KRW depending on the area. However, the standard rent per month is around 400,000 KRW to 800,000 KRW for a person living alone in a modest apartment. The tenant is also responsible for the utilities and other living costs. And you know the drill, in case of property damage, the deposit will be used for reparations.
Monthly rent: Medium
You are now ready to find the best accommodation for your stay in Korea!
If you need more guides, tips and activities ideas for your Korean life stick around, ENKOR has a lot more to offer!