Housing in South Korea
The biggest benefit of teaching in South Korea is that the school is required to provide you with housing on top of your salary. This means you only have to cover utilities and maintenance fees. The school is also required to provide a few basic appliances and furniture, at no expense to you. This being said, the type and quality of housing depends on your employer and the luck of the draw.
Types of Accommodation
Due to the fierce competition for space and high property prices, the most popular form of accommodation are apartments within high rising apartment blocks or complexes. These vary according to type, size and number of rooms.
Studio Apartment – This is the most common type of housing for English Teachers and consists of one large area that serves as a bedroom, kitchen and living room. The ensuite bathroom or wet room usually consists of a toilet, basin and shower head.
One Bedroom – A one bedroom apartment is slightly larger than the standard studio apartment, with the bedroom being separate from the living and kitchen area.
Two Bedroom – These types of apartments are rare among English Teachers and simply consist of two bedrooms separate from the living and kitchen area.
House – Although it is highly unlikely that an English teacher would be placed in a house, there have been rare instances. As magical as it sounds, this type of accommodation usually means much higher maintenance and utility costs.
What comes with an apartment?
Most public school contracts stipulate that the employer must provide the following appliances and furniture: a bed, table and chair, a closet, a refrigerator, a washing machine and a TV set. Sometimes, the previous occupant (usually the English teacher before you) may leave other appliances and furniture.
You can expect to pay anything between 50 000 to 80 000 won per month for gas, electricity, water and TV, although this depends largely on your lifestyle. Utility bills are higher in winter due to the increased use of the underfloor heating system (ondol). Sometimes you will be required to pay a monthly maintenance fee which covers the day-to-day maintenance of the apartment building or complex.
Internet costs vary depending on the service provider and can range between 20 000 won to 60 000 won, although you will never be disappointed with the speed of your internet connection.
You might be hoping for a luxury apartment with magical views of the Han River, but the reality is that your apartment is usually very basic and simple. You also won’t know exactly what to expect until you have set foot inside your new home. So, arrive with an open mind and perhaps lower your expectations.
You also will have no idea what’s inside your apartment or even the size of your bed, so aim to get an idea of your apartment before making any big purchases. Use your settlement allowance (300 000 won) for its intended purpose, by purchasing goodies to make your apartment feel homely and comfortable. A comfortable apartment can go a long way in determining how enjoyable your time in Korea is.