How do I get housing in South Korea outside of the military and teaching English? I would prefer to rent a house, as I am not fond of apartments, but would be willing to consider an apartment as long as I can have some privacy as I plan on making noise-Good Noise... Music!

  • I'm confused by the "outside of military and teaching english" statement. I understand that the military would provide housing, so do English teaching jobs also provide housing?
    – mkennedy
    Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 22:01
  • Yes but it would require you to be apart of either by enlisting or applying for those jobs. I really want to know if you can get housing outside of those two entities and or can it be a house for rent.
    – calia
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 1:44

1 Answer 1


Forget about a house, at least in the big cities. They're very rare and for the very, very wealthy. Koreans have developed a taste for high-rises, which come in all kinds of price ranges.

Most jobs in Korea do not come with housing. Jobs that do are (1) senior managers and (2) expats, ie people sent from overseas to Korea by the company. If you can find such a job back home and get sent to Korea, you might get housing. If not, forget it.

As for privacy and no noise, that's an even rarer commodity in Korea. It's a hectic place. People live on top of each other.


Further to the OP's comment/question: is there a better way of having this done or where would I go to get the most privacy? I also have no intention of living in the city.

That poses a few more problems...

  • Not living in the city.

Eh? Where would you be planning to work and live? If you stand in the geographical center of Seoul, say Yongsan-gu, everything, and I mean everything, 50 km around that spot is urbanized. And by urbanized I mean concreted over in high-rises. Living at the outer edge of that circle (which happens to be the outer edge of the public transportation network), you'd be stuck with 4/5 hours stuck in transportation a day. Assuming your employer would be in Seoul proper. And maybe on the other side of the circle. Hell on toast.

Only people without a choice and their opposite, immensely rich people, live outside the conurbation. You're not in Kansas anymore. It's not "Oh living in the city is bad, I'll move to the 'burbs" there. The burbs are an exact mirror image of the city, just worse. More concrete, more people. And where the suburbs end, the countryside starts, and there is nothing there for you.

  • Privacy. Noise and disturbances.

Considering their lifestyle, Koreans do have, generally, a high tolerance for noise. You'll be disturbed by your neighbours more than they'll disturb you. But if you have neighbours who object to your music -- on general principle or because you're a foreigner -- you'll be in for a world of trouble.

A possibility is to live in one of the foreign ghettos, one in line with your budget anyway. From haebangchon near the big Itaewon US base to Seorae maeul there are a few places where foreigners tend to be a majority, and noise disturbances are less of an issue. Many places are also smaller buildings, called, unfortunately, villas (they're nothing but). Five to six floors tops.

  • Budget.

Let me come back on the budget issue. Housing in Seoul is EXPENSIVE. And most employers won't pay for it. By the way, usually English teachers share a flat -- most schools tend to rent flats that will house two or more people. So noise could be an issue again, as your flatmate(s) may object.

But if you're paying for it yourself (the most probable outcome), you'll need serious money to start with. Renting in Korea requires a very healthy [refundable] deposit (usually 10 million KRW, ~8,000 USD and up), and a monthly rent. Note the deposit is not a multiple of the monthly rent. There was a time, all you needed was the key-money. You'd basically lend the owner a sum of money that's a very large percentage of the total value of the flat, and the owner lived on the interest they got from that. My last flat, 2001 to 2004, the key money was about 50,000 USD. These days, with interest rates being so low, landlords compromise: they lower the key-money, and complement the "loss" of income with a monthly rent. But that key money is still a healthy chunk of cash.

Note that in many cases, the key-money system is borderline a Ponzi scheme. People who buy a flat to rent it out pay the agreed price minus the current key money. Which means that in many cases, people actually buy a flat they can hardly afford. They just hope that when the tenant files notice to move out, a new tenant will be found in time, so that the new tenant's cheque can be passed over directly to the former tenant, as the landlord doesn't have enough money to cover it. If no new tenant comes in time, good luck. Happened to me twice, and it was a battle to get the money back...

  • yes i am aware they live on top of each other and space is a luxury but I don't want to cause a disturbance when I practice singing. Is there a better way of having this done or where would I go to get the most privacy. I also have no intention of living in the city
    – calia
    Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 17:33
  • Updated my answer.
    – dda
    Commented Oct 31, 2017 at 10:05
  • dda-Thanks for all of that information. However, I have no intention of living in Seoul at all. What are the other cities like and can I live in between a major city and a smaller city. For instance, can I live around Jeonju. What is cost of living like there? And if noise is not a problem but a problem where do I go to get privacy. Can I rent rooms that would have privacy?
    – calia
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 11:14
  • I also see apartment rooms at the very top of apartment buildings that are kind of open and seem dilapidated. Are those cheaper than the lower level apartments? And Can I rent those?
    – calia
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 12:07
  • Other cities are smaller concrete jungles. Like Jeonju. Inside Jeonju, concrete, outside, mountains. Nature. Very little housing. And the smaller the cities get, the less public transportation, and the more difficult it gets for foreigners who don't speak Korean.
    – dda
    Commented Nov 2, 2017 at 12:19

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