"Oh ya.... that's what I packed!" It's day twenty four in Korea and I finally have the key to my apartment! There will be no more rummaging around in my suitcase to find outfits for work. And there will be no more crazy love motels in my future.
Finding and apartment in Korea can make you want to give up and go home all together. Koreans require a large deposit which is known as "key money." This amount is usually around two thirds of the total monthly rent. Most schools will pay up to a 10 million won or $10,000 key money deposit for their employee's. It's nice that the schools will front the key money, but they are very picky about who they give the deposit too. This severely narrows down your apartment search. Usually English companies will be familiar with a few buildings in your area, and a Korean employee will take native teachers to look at them.
In addition to key money, most schools will give free housing,(usually accompanied by a lower salary) or a $200 housing allowance per month. Teachers that allow the company to take their rent and utilities each month from their paycheck are not taxed on the $200 allowance.
Most area's in Seoul have affordable apartments ranging between $450-$600 a month. Keep in mind that these are studios, anything with an actual bedroom will start running at about $800 and will be farther from the cities heart. The studios are well organized and are kind of like high tech dorm rooms. The kitchen area will usually have a washing machine which takes the place of our Western expectations of an oven.
One of the weirdest things about moving into an apartment through your company is that you will probably never sign one piece of paper. The companies usually have everything taken care of for you and simply hand you over the key. This thought is really scary at first but in all reality renting through your company saves a lot of time and worry in the long run.
Important apartment qualities in Korea:
1. Walking distance from work.- The subway can get quite annoying and those $1 rides all add up throughout the week.
2. Door man- If your apartment has a door man you are in for a treat. Most of these guys are really nice and will help you do almost anything apartment related.
3. A good maintenance man- Make friends with your maintenance man. They will help you fix leaking showers or help you hang curtains.
4. A good view- Living downtown can leave you with some terrible views. Make sure that you look out the window when viewing apartments. You might be able to stick your hand out of the window and tough another building!
5. A high room- The higher up you are in the building the quieter your apartment will be. You won't be able to hear the noisy street below, and you might have a better shot with not hearing the people above you walk around all day and night.
6. A gym- There are almost no affordable apartment buildings with full gyms. Therefore a gym is a major purchasing factor! Memberships at private gyms can run you up to $1200 a year. My building has a gym with a $10 montly fee.
7. A door video display- This is a great security feature that many apartments in Korea have. The system allows you to see a live video of outside your door. You can also talk directly with the person outside through a built in speaker system. In addition you can call the door man downstairs, and unlock the front door downstairs. This system will also come in handy when the Jehova's witnesses come knocking on your door! I'll post a separate blog about that later!
8. Office Tel apartments- These buildings are great because alot of the owners use the studios as an office. This guarantees that the building is much quieter and clean. I live in an office Tel and I have seen about 4 people on my floor so far.
Don't be discouraged when looking for an apartment. Korea is very high tech, and you will be surprised about how much you can get for your money.
Monday, September 6, 2010
Posted by Marie W on 8:19 AM
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