ESL South Korea

Housing in Korea

One of the Primary reasons why many expats in Korea are able to pay off student loans, travel the world and still save some money is because of the fact that they don’t have to pay for housing.  Korea has one of the highest population densities in the world which means it’s a small country with a lot of people in it.  If you know anything about real estate you’ll know that this means housing is expensive.

But lucky for us, Korean employers will always pay your rent for you for every month that you work at his/her school (see contract specifications).  This means that a huge cut in your salary which would have gone to some rich landlord is now available for Ice Cream, travelling to Thailand, and debt payments.  Yippee!  That was my reaction when I first heard of this great perk, and it should be yours too.

The Bulk of housing for the population in Korea is made up out of apartments.  Since land space is limited, cities do not expand horizontally, but vertically – since there’s no space to build to the left and right, people build up!  This is why you’ll always see high rise apartment buildings in Korea, they’re everywhere, usually built in clusters or sections.  These are the places where most Koreans spend their lives.

Apartment?  A bit small for a family right?  No, Koreans family apartments are not like their Western counterparts and are usually quite large with up to seven rooms for a family of three or four.

The housing provided for you by your employer will thus be an apartment – one bedroom if you’re single and two bedrooms if you’re married.  Housing is usually close to your school, especially if you work at a hagwon.  Public school employee’s are told that they need to be willing to travel up to 60 minutes to their school, but its usually much less than that – maybe a 10 minute walk or a 20 minute bus ride.

Your apartment will be furnished which means the basic living necessities are provided for you.  These include:

– A western style bed, queen or king size.
– A table and chairs
– A TV and sometimes DVD player.  No Plasma’s for English Teachers, you’ll have to be satisfied with an old school telly.
Refrigerator.  Includes a small freezing space.
Washing Machine.  Instruction labels are in Korean only so make sure your boss explains the functions to you before start using it.
Western style toilet.  The only place you’ll still find traditional or squat-style toilets are in certain public restrooms and more rural areas outside the cities.
A Stove, but to the dismay of many cooking fanatics like myself, no oven.  Stoves operate with gas.
Air conditioner.  Due to the humid and hot summers an air conditioner is a must.  Most apartments have one, but be sure to check your contract or ask your future employer about this.