A Comprehensive Guide In Renting Apartments In South Korea

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Renting apartments in South Korea


We moved to Incheon from Ganeung last January because my husband had to move to another company. Gangneung is a really great city for foreigners because of it’s scenic nature and old structures but Incheon is also good for traveling and living.

Moving is not easy. Even though we hired movers to help us, it was still a struggle because we had to make sure everything was transferred perfectly.  I also had to clean the old apartment out of courtesy to the owner. Finding a new place was a whole new adventure.

Renting apartments in South Korea comes in two arrangements: One is jeonse and the other one is wolse. Renting with jeonse arrangement was completely new to me. You have to give a big amount of deposit money to the landlord and you will get it back after the contract which is normally two years. There is no exact percentage when it comes to the amount, however, it should be less than the actual value of the property when bought. Some say that it should be around 40-90% of the actual price of the apartment but it still depends on the owner. The landlord keeps the money and does whatever he pleases, like invest in his business or deposit in the bank and collect the interest. The tenant does not need to pay any monthly rent. There are other fees though like maintenance, water, electricity, and gas.

We like jeonse because we can get the money back after the contract. It is just like lending your money to someone else without interest. We don’t have to worry about forgetting the monthly rent as well. Some does not like jeonse because of the huge deposit. This is ideal for those who have saved up some money. After the contract expires and neither the owner nor the renter notified about moving out, the contract automatically renews. That means that the owner keeps the deposit money. However, if the tenant wants to move out or the owner has other plans for the apartment, they must notify in advance. Ideally, two months would suffice.

Wolse, on the other hand, requires monthly rent plus a deposit. This is similar to the rental arrangement in other countries. The tenant and the landlord agree to the deposit amount and monthly rent. We had this arrangement in our previous apartment. From the beginning, we knew that we would not stay for a long time there so the arrangement was good. There were times that we forgot to pay the rent though because there was no bill for it in the mail. It was quite embarrassing to get a reminder from the owner about the payment. That was the only inconvenience so far that we experienced.

Since my husband is Korean, it was easy for us to do the negotiation. We went to a budongsan or real estate agency. They are the ones who check properties based on your budget. Yeongjeong island is not so crowded yet as of this moment so we were lucky to be toured to two available apartments close to the subway.

Real estate agencies have fees depending on the price of the apartment and arrangement. To make sure that you will not be ripped off, I recommend that you check first how much should be the fee. I have read in several expat groups here that some budongsan are not following the standard rate. Here is a calculator that will let you input the desired budget, the kind of arrangement and the location. This is in Korean and you might need some help if you cannot read Hangul yet.

If you are going to a major city in South Korea, there is a chance that the budongsan has an English-speaking staff but you must contact them in advance. In my experience, most do not speak English and that is the biggest hindrance for you to get a better price.

If you are not comfortable going out on your own, find an interpreter to help you out and make sure you understand the contract well. You can also check craigslist as an alternative to get the best apartment. Most of the listings are in English.


Renting Apartment Guide In South Korea

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2 Responses

  1. kahlan says:

    Thank you! I’ll be uploading more photos. You may also visit my instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/kahlan2019/. I upload more photos there that I haven’t used in my blog posts.

  2. Kristy says:

    Interesting! Love to see more photos of Korea! I’ve never been!

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