Are you planning on moving to Seoul? Starting up in a new country is always difficult. And it’s even harder if you’ve got no money! We can’t help you out with being broke, but if you’re looking for housing in Korea and don’t have much cash with you, there’s a number of super cheap options that are available!
Note: These housing options are for those looking to live on their own. Super cheap usually means smaller living spaces. Sorry couples!
Studio apartments (aka “one room” in Korean) are just regular ol’ apartments. And although studio apartments in Itaewon, Gangnam, and other popular/central areas come with big price tags, you can still get your own apartment in Seoul without being a baller. You should check out less central areas for very cheap housing, and in Seoul that means the suburbs (i.e. Incheon, Ilsan, Anyang, Bundang, Uijeongbu, Seongnam, etc.). And if you’re ok with walking a bit from public transportation, housing will be even cheaper.
Of course, the problem with finding housing for most foreigners in Korea is the very large security deposits. The rental system in Korea is different, and before moving into an apartment in Korea, tenants will give landlords a security deposit starting anywhere from 5 to 10 million won (approximately 5,000 to 10,000 USD). You’ll of course get that money back, but that’s not cheap at all. However, if a 2 million won (~2,000USD) security deposit sounds doable, there are places with ultra cheap monthly rent, starting from 250,000 won (~250USD). The apartment will definitely be small, but at least you’ll be living by yourself and no one will see that embarrassing Jay Park pillow you sleep with every night.
Check out pics of this apartment in Uijeongbu. Security deposit is 2million won and monthly rent is 320,000 won. Not bad!
If you’re ready to find your own super cheap apartment in Seoul, apply these tips to our post on how to get your own apartment in Korea.
Tip: If you can afford to give more security deposit, many landlords will be open to lowering your monthly rent.
Check out this video for a typical “cheap” apartment. Actual apartment tour starts at 1:22.
If you don’t want to live in the suburbs of Seoul and are looking to live somewhere super cheap so you can spend all your money on boozing in Hongdae, why not check out a goshiwon, housing for super small people or for people that just want mega cheap rent. Rent can be as cheap as 250,000 won a month, and if you’re ok with living in these closet-sized rooms, you’ll get the benefit of free furniture (typically come with a bed, table, and mini-fridge) as well as free internet and TV (sometimes even free rice and kimchi!). Be warned though, you’re typically not allowed to bring friends and you most likely will have to use a communal bathroom (although you can pay extra for private bathrooms at some goshiwon). It’s probably uncomfortable for most, but it’s also perfect if you’re outside all the time and all you want is a place to sleep (for cheap!). “Hooray!” say all the tiny and broke people
Language tip: Sometimes these are referred to as different names: 고시텔 (goshitel), 원룸텔 (One room-tel), 원룸리빙텔 (one room living-tel), etc.
Goshipages.com is pretty awesome if you’re looking for one.
And this dude does a pretty good job of introducing goshiwon too
Hasukjip is a pretty old school housing option in Korea. This was and still is mostly utilized by students who need to live close to their schools. But students miss their mommies. That’s why hasukjip ajummas offer breakfast and dinner everyday! The rooms aren’t anything amazing (usually a bit bigger than goshiwon rooms), but if you’re going to get not just one but TWO full on homemade Korean meals everyday, we don’t think you’ll be complaining too much. These are mostly privately/independently run by the ajummas, so it is not as easy to find as goshiwon. But go to any university and there’s guaranteed to be a hasukjip close by. Prices are similar to goshiwon prices (starting from 250,000 won and up).
Tip: The buildings/rooms are typically owned by the ajumma. Essentially, you’re moving into their house. So some owners might not be cool with you coming home too late. Don’t worry though, the rules will be laid out for you.
Kind of a long, but good introduction
Planning to come to Korea on a budget? Which one of these would you stay in? Write us a comment!
Keith Kim is a Korean-American living in Seoul, Korea. He likes espresso shots, photography art and he loves his Playstation 3. He started seoulistic.com as a hobby site, and is now in the process of turning it into a full-time business. Wish him luck! Check out his blog for an uncensored view on entrepreneurship, dating and life in Korea. Personal Blog: gyopokeith.com Facebook: facebook.com/gyopokeithkim Twitter: @gyopokeith Youtube: "Gyopokeith e-mail me anytime at: gyopokeith [at] gmail.com