SHIFTED TO SEOUL!

FINALLY found some time late at night to type this blog post in my new room! I shifted to Seoul from Gwangju 2 weeks ago the day after we finished our last finals for summer semester in language year and man, I have been so busy for the past 2 weeks just by cleaning and buying new stuff for my new room! Oh, and not to mention all the paper work to be done within 14 days after I shift because we need to declare our new address and change our D-4 visa to D-2 visa, which I would write a separate post to explain in more detail.

Anyway, in this blog post I will be covering some tips and my shifting experience. After signing the room contract in Seoul in July, I went back to Gwangju to wrap up the final month of language classes but although the homework and study load is significantly lower because towards the end almost all of us has at least TOPIK 3 already, we still had to attend classes everyday from 9am – 1pm. So basically in August, my weekends are mostly spend either saying goodbye with friends, going to my favourite hang out places (for the last time before I leave LOL), house shifting planning or PACKING! I’ll only be focusing on the latter two in the post though so hopefully my experience can be informative!


House shifting planning:

I think a month before the actual shifting date is a good time frame to start planning AND packing. Although I’ll admit some people may think it is too long of a time but I like planning my journey and process slowly without a hurry just in case something unexpected happens. Plus, I like to enjoy the process of planning and packing because it just adds to the excitement!

So, what did I planned?

1. Bus ticket time – It takes 3.5hours from Gwangju to Seoul so I left Seoul at 9.20am because by the time I reach Seoul I can have lunch and start cleaning my house instead of coming late and sleep in a dusty house.

2, Delivering stuff through parcel delivery – There are many companies offering to send our parcels. For my case, I could go to the post office but I decided to go with CJ Express because I found a 4000 won/box (20kg) deal online. Normally a 20kg big box will cost around 8000 won – 9000 won depending on the area. Plus, roughly a month before I left CJ Express came to our dorm to sell boxes used for the delivery (size 6 btw) so I bought 7 of them. The boxes itself is 2000 won each and I ended up sending 6 boxes up to Seoul.

Point to consider: Due to box size and parcel weight limit, it is good to take some time to consider how many boxes you may actually need. And it is always good to have some spare room because if I did not buy enough boxes, I would have to make an extra trip to get more boxes under the hot summer sun. (You really won’t want to do that, really)

3. Getting help – I was fortunate enough to get a Korean guy friend to help me shift. I live on 4th floor without an elevator and even after sending 6 boxes up, I still had 3 luggages + 1 hand carry luggage with me on my moving day #dontjudgeme. It is not easy to pull these heavy luggages up the stairs so make sure you get all the help you can! If you have friends in Seoul who can help, call them. If not, you can also request help from your agent. Mine was kind enough to handle all my parcel delivery boxes that was sent 1-2 weeks prior to my moving date.

4. Budgeting and shopping list – Actually this is the most important aspect of the ENTIRE PLANNING and I should have put this at first place but forgive me as I am typing this at 11pm and I am typing this post wherever my mind leads me as I recall on my experience :p Glad you have made it this far though haha. Anyway, the tip is it is best to start saving some allowance 6 months before language year ends because if you don’t have some savings to fall back on, chances are you will be running short of money because moving costs A LOT. Even if you are planning to move to the dorm and you will be paying cheap rent (unlike me), considering the money needed to pay to travel and sending your stuff up is also quite a lot of money. If you are planning to stay out in a one room like me, even with a full option one room, you still have to buy lots of daily necessities and electrical appliances too so it’s best to fatten up your account beforehand.

Things to consider:

  1. Parcel delivery
  2. Bus tickets to Seoul
  3. Necessities to buy (WiFi router (if not provided), toilet paper, clothes hanger, detergent, drinkable water if needed, room cleaning tools like brushes, detergents, cloths etc)
  4. Any extra furniture and electrical items to buy for the room (not applicable for dorm I guess) – These are the heavy weight items in terms of weight (literally) and cost
  5. Taxi fare to travel from dorm to bus station to new place or T-money reload cost

Pro tip: Due to lack of budget as we are not allowed to do any part time work to earn some extra cash, consider setting a priority list and wait till the next allowance to come in before buying stuff that you don’t need urgently.

Pro tip 2: While shopping it is best to check out a few online sites first to check on the price of a certain item. You may be able to find a really good deal randomly! It helps with budgeting and it will also save you a lot of time when it is time to order them at your new place!

Not-so-pro experience of mine: I needed to buy a water filter to filter tap water into drinkable water. I asked around and my friends suggested to buy a Brita jug since it is the most convenient way to filter and it is not too big or expensive. I searched online on a website that I always go to because I thought I could get a good deal there and not any other place. Turns out another platform was selling the same model at a cheaper price and they were offering a faster delivery time too! So lesson learned, always go to several websites!

Another not-so-pro experience of mine: I had a clothes hanger in the Chosun University dorm but since I shared it with my roomie, I left it in Gwangju since she still needs to use it. We bought the hanger at E-mart and it was quite a good deal because it costs like 18,000 won and it has a really nice structure. I searched other platforms for a cheaper option but I couldn’t find any so I ended up buying the same one in Seoul. Turns out, I found cheaper options in Ikea last week… (different model and structure though but I would have bought that if I found out earlier……..) So the lesson is, never assume that everything that is under a more premium brand to be ALWAYS more expensive than lesser known brands.

5. Dorm check in date and check out date – Not my own experience but I am just relaying what I observed among my friends who signed up to stay in their university dorm. So our Chosun University dorm only allow us to stay latest until 17th August. But, the degree university dorm would only allow students in earliest on the last week of August, if not by beginning September. So most of my friends are actually left stranded without a place to stay due to this mismatched check-in and check-out date. Most dorms are pretty strict when it comes to this so it was almost impossible for my friends to ask for an extension in our Chosun dorm or an early check in from their university dorm. So extra cost will also incur because you would have to live outside in a goshiwon or something with all your stuff for 2 weeks.

6. Paper work – OK this is like the second most important thing, if not, actually THE most important thing in the eyes of the law because within 14 days of shifting we need to change our address in the immigration office. For those staying outside of dorm at a place where there is a deposit involved, I would advice to also go to the local court to stamp your contract. More info on this in next posting! Also, we need to change our visa from D-4 to D-2 and there are a lot of documents to prepare even BEFORE you move!


Packing:

After buying the boxes it is time to pack and send my stuff to Seoul! I was fortunate enough to receive help from my agent and I could send my stuff to my new room 2 weeks before moving. But this varies case by case because some dorms will not be able to store any luggage before hand so it is best to check with your agent or person in charge of the dorm!

Since it was really hot in the middle of July, I reckon it won’t be wise to send food stuff or sensitive items like make up, skin care, medicine etc first so I sent other non-perishable items like notebooks, clothes, handbags that I will not need to use for the last 2 weeks up first. Then, few days before moving up I sent the remaining like food, electrical items (I bought a mini fan because dorm doesn’t have AC for certain hours) and more clothing. To reduce cost for delivering the parcel, I actually left quite a lot of clothes, make up/skin care and valuable items to be stuffed into my 3 big luggage bags.

For some reference, here is my priority list for packing from pack first to pack last:

  1. Winter clothing, followed by thick clothing that is not worn in hot summer weather
  2. Unused notes, books, documents, extra stationary, souvenirs, memorabilia
  3. Stuff bought in bulk/extras that I know for sure I won’t be able to finish in the last 2 weeks – mask packs, free make up samples, handbags etc
  4. Shoes that I won’t be wearing till I move, summer clothing that I can do without for 2 weeks
  5. Unused, big electronic items
  6. Food, Make up, Skin care, Medicine (these are perishable items and not advisable to leave them outside in hot weather for too long)
  7. Summer clothing – Because you still need to wear some clothes while running around hahahaha. I would suggest keeping at least 1 week worth of clothes for home wear and outside wear.
  8. Electronic Items – Laptop, camera, chargers, powerbank etc (CARRY THESE WITH YOU!)
  9. Bedding – pillow, pillow covers, mattress covers, smelly bolsters (It’s an Asian thing) (I have the whole complete set so I just fit all of them in a hand carry and took them to Seoul with me!)
  10. Important certificates and documents! (DO NOT SEND THESE VIA PARCEL DELIVERY!)

Pro tip: Head to Daiso and buy some vacuum packs because they are super handy while packing bulky, furry winter clothing! It is not too expensive and you can reuse it again and again so it is worth the investment!

Pro tip 2: Maximize all the space in the box! Just make sure it doesn’t go over 20kg. If you live near a gym like I did, you can weigh the boxes using the weighing scale in the gym!

Pro tip 3: In relation to pro tip 2, you can sometimes fill up small spaces/gaps in the box by stuffing a pair of socks in it HAHAHAH. I have like almost 30 pairs of socks and I actually managed to stuff more than half of it just by filling up the empty gaps~

Pro tip 4: In case of rain/leakage of roof or for whatever reason your box comes in contact with water, always lace your box or wrap your items in plastics bags! My items are literally flood proof hahahaha because I didn’t want to risk losing my items if it somehow gets soaked.

Pro tip 5: Somehow we would end up having a few fragile items like glass cups, porcelain plates and so on that we HAVE to send via parcel so it is nice to keep some bubble wrap that you get when you buy things online because they do come in handy! Also, prior to packing just do a small check on what fragile items you have and just stuff it in between all your clothes after wrapping it in bubble wrap! We are warned by the delivery staff that the boxes are sometimes thrown to the ground rather harshly so any broken items will not be their responsibility. So pack well!

Pro tip 6: Aside from bubble wraps, save up some cardboard boxes along the way too because it is easier to pack smaller items into them and arrange them in the bigger courier boxes.


All in all, it was really hectic to pack everything and plan for the big move to Seoul! But it was also an experience that taught me a lot and definitely will come in handy if I need to move to another place again. I hope this post will provide great help especially for KGSP students who will be moving from their language university to their major university. Even though it was a tough process mainly due to language barrier and also lack of experience on my part, it also fun and exciting because finally after one year of language course, I am going to start my new life in a new place for my long awaited masters degree! At this point of time, everything will feel so real and in a flash, here I am in Seoul!

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Photo of the Month – May 2018

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Been lagging behind my photo of the month postings because it has been a really hectic June and July for me. There is nothing much left to do in Gwangju anymore except for some final packing and farewell dinners with friends. So before I get busy again once I move to Seoul, time to squeeze another posting!

May is still technically spring in Korea and there were loads of flower related festivals all around. Close to home (as in my dorm in Gwangju), they had the famous Rose Festival because we have a really nice rose garden here in our very own campus. But for this posting, I will be sharing more about my trip to a small town called Hampyeong for the Butterfly Festival!

I went with 2 guy friends (one from Korea and one from China). As per popular belief that Koreans like to take photos AND they take good photos, the photo above is taken by my super experienced Korean friend using the Foodie app ahahaha. Aside from butterflies, we were also able to feast our eyes on weird looking cactuses in the greenhouse, colourful flowers all over and also fields of yellow flowers that make perfect Instagram shots!

First lemme show you some shots taken by my Korean friend~

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Next are some photos taken by myself HAHA using my phone~ Photos of me are taken by my friends though~

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My parents would probably freak out if they read this (Hi mum and dad~), but in the festival I tried some dried larva (as shown in photo above). I never thought I would eat any kind of insect or worm but I DID IT HAHAHAHAH. To be honest it doesn’t feel or taste gross. It just tasted like crispy, bland flour so it wasn’t totally bad. #achievementunlocked

It was a pretty tiring day because it was the golden weekend so we actually got stuck in the bus for 2 hours on our way to the festival. Fortunately the traffic cleared up and it only took us 30 minutes to get back to Gwangju. All in all, it was a really nice experience spent with the company of really fun friends!

My house hunting experience in Seoul – Part 2

In continuation of my previous blog post about my room hunting experience in Seoul, in this posting I will highlight on several aspects to look out for while doing the room check prior to signing the contract, the contract signing process and what to look out for! I guess I will leave out the process of shifting from the dormitory to the room for now because I haven’t experienced that yet hahaha.


So after deciding on the room I wanted to rent, I contact the agent again to view the house for the second time. My agent gladly obliged and I purposely chose to view the house again at night after sun set (the first time I viewed it was on a gloomy afternoon). It was raining cats and dogs that evening but it worked in my favour because I can also then check if there is any leaking anywhere.

Here are a check list about important stuff to check:

  1. Boiler – Make sure it is working for both hot water and floor heating (mine has 2 separate buttons for each function). Gas fees can get really expensive in colder seasons. Newer boilers take lesser time to heat up the floor and water, thus more conservative on the amount of gas used. For a point of reference, my room floor heats up almost immediately (i.e. when the floor heating button was turned on, in around 5 seconds I can feel the floor warming up). For water tap, it took around 2-3 minutes for the taps to produce warm water.
  2. All lights (toilet, room, front door automatic light, and even lights outside of your room at staircase area) – Ensure all lights are brightly lit, if not request the agent to change/repair it.
  3. All water taps and shower hose – Ensure water pressure is OK, no leaking.
  4. Toilet bowl flushing system – It may feel a bit weird that this is actually something important. Older toilet systems with older pipes or certain design of toilet bowls may not have a flush that is powerful enough to flush down toilet paper (this is why in Korea they either provide really thin toilet tissues in public toilets or provide a dustbin in the toilet area for us to throw used toilet paper). The toilet flush in my dormitory is pretty strong but still it got blocked for a few times in the past year. #noescape
  5. Windows – any holes on mosquito net, if the windows can slide open smoothly.
  6. Furniture – If the room is fully furnished (full option), check all cupboards and drawers to see if it is clean (depending on individuals but this is important to me).
  7. Kitchen – Most newer onerooms have induction stoves instead of traditional gas stoves. You may want to consider the amount of stoves because my friend who only has 1 stove said she wished she had two stoves so she can multitask while cooking instead of doing her dishes one by one #shehasapoint. Mine has 2 stoves btw.
  8. Wallpaper – Some owners may opt to change the wallpaper every time a new tenant moves in. If the room’s wallpaper is a bit dirty or run down, try check with the agent to see if it is possible to change.

Next, after confirming everything is OK it was time to sign the contract! Contract fee is normally 10% of total deposit and there is also a separate agent fee. All of these details will be listed in the contract. The contract should start on an agreed date (the date when you move in, NOT the date you sign the contract unless you are moving in right after signing lol) and the duration of contract must be stated clearly on the first page of the contract.

The biggest tip I could share is, make sure everything is ALRIGHT AND CORRECT before signing the contract! The agents are normally busy and they tend to rush us into signing the contract even before we manage to read everything. To be honest, I was rushed into signing the contract but I withhold the contract fee until I ensure everything in the contract is OK and the owner of the building has a clean record. I would prefer if I could sign it after letting my Korean friends check the contract. Fortunately everything turned out OK for me but others may not be so lucky!

Basically the signing of contract is done in the agent’s office. For my case, the agent has the name stamp of the building owner so on behalf of the owner himself, the agent acknowledged the contract using the owner’s stamp. The contract itself has three pages, the first page bearing important information like monthly rent, maintenance fees and what it includes (differs by room and negotiation results), amount of deposit, contract fee (normally 10% of contract fee), my ARC number and other personal details like handphone number, full name etc, the owner’s full name, house address and agent details. Make sure to check EACH AND EVERY details listed and request to change if there is ANY mistake no matter how small the mistake might be. The subsequent second and third page are basically information about the room like nearest bus stop, subway station, schools (primary, secondary, high school), size of room, condition of wall paper, water taps, boiler system etc. To me every information in the contract is IMPORTANT, so if there is anything you don’t agree with, for example if the wallpaper is dirty but in the contract it is stated as new/clean, request to either change the wallpapers or request to change the details in the contract. Ensure that all details regarding the room is tally with the contract to avoid discrepancies in the future when you move out!

Before finally signing the contract and paying the fees, there are TWO very important things to do. The first one is to check the 허가 번호 (registration number/authorization number) of the real estate agent.

You can do it here: http://www.kar.or.kr/pinfo/brokersearch.asp

The webpage is all in Korean but basically we just have to select the filters that indicate the area of the agent’s office (address is normally found on their name cards) and viola~ agents that are registered can all be found on this webpage. Once you verify the authenticity of the agent, then you can move on to checking the 등기부동분 of the building. This is a pretty complicated process and it is ALL in Korean. You would need to download an app called 인터넷등기소 on Playstore. It cost 700 won per check and you would also need to key in a phone number (for them to send the results to) and a Korean ID number. This is where you will need a Korean that you can trust to help you. The report will be in 2 pages. I am also not really sure on this part but from what I know, as long as the building doesn’t have multiple owners, the owner is debt-free and the building is not under mortgaged then it is OK. The report for my room shows none of these so it was an all clear.

P/S: The reason why multiple owners can pose a risk is because most likely the deposit you paid will be split across these owners so you will get into potential trouble if one or more of them runs away with your money.

After all these checks, it is time to sign the contract and wire the contract fee to the owner’s bank account as stated on the contract! Technically, we would have to wire the monthly rent to the same stated account too. Also remember to counter check if the person you are wiring the money to is indeed the building owner himself and not somebody else!


After signing the contract, it is time to make plans to shift! I know I would surely miss Gwangju when I leave because I got used to the life here already. But on the other hand, I am excited to start the new chapter in my life in Seoul! Having my own space and being able to experience living alone is also something that is pretty exciting and I am pretty sure it can be life changing too! Till then, I’ll continue enjoying the remaining weeks here I have in my language year~

My house hunting experience in Seoul – Part 1

June has come and gone so quickly and in less than one month’s time we will be finishing our Korean language year! So with one month left, I had to make a trip to Seoul for room searching because I have decided not to stay in Yonsei’s dorm. Before I share my experience and also some tips/important matters about looking for a room outside of campus, let me first share with you the reasons WHY I don’t want to live in a dorm anymore.

I have been living in Chosun University’s Global House Dormitory for over 10 months now. Although the stay has been good so far because I am blessed with a really good room mate, there are also down sides of dormitory life where in my opinion, could be easily resolved if I lived outside by my own. Here are some of the down sides of dorm life that propelled me to make the decision:

  1. Ok so this is not exactly the down side of dorm life in general but for my case, Yonsei’s dorm is really expensive AND we do not get a special discount as KGSP scholars either. Other friends heading to other universities have certain discounts and one of my friend is going to get it for free too! Why would I pay such a high monthly rental to stay in a 2-person room if I can live by my own outside with a similar cost?
  2. Dorm life is very restrictive. Curfews aside (my current dorm has a curfew of 1am – 5am daily), there is not much privacy in the dorm building itself because cameras are EVERYWHERE, at EVERY CORNER. And we are also restricted from using the air conditioning during summer and heater during autumn and winter too! The AC and heater are time controlled for energy saving, but it is really uncomfortable to live under these restrictions especially in hot summer days.
  3. Risk of having people entering your room while you are away. The presence of CCTVs is not a hindrance to these people because the office has a master key to all of room doors. So for whatever reason like room check, pest control etc, they do use the master key to enter the room if no one is in. This itself sparks a problem because me and my roomie had a case few months ago where we realise our toiletries are being used (i.e. amount lessens mysteriously). I started realising it when it happened to my newly bought (never used) shampoo. Initially me and my roommate thought it was just us who sometimes used each other’s stuff but that was not the case. Made a report to the dorm office on this, but till this day there were no follow up.
  4. Lack of private time and movement space. Sometimes after a long and tiring day all I want is just spending time alone somewhere. I have a really nice roommate and we do enjoy living together and doing things together. But private alone time is also very important to me and the lack of time alone actually stresses me out because I gotta be constantly on the watch out so that I do not cause a disturbance to my room mate and also dorm neighbours in the things I do. Also, dorm rooms tend to be quite small and tight (duh, imagine putting 2 beds, 2 tables, 2 cupboards in a room that is smaller than an average hotel room) so there is not much space for me to move around!
  5. No personal kitchen. Our current dorm only has a microwave at every floor. Most dormitories have shared kitchens but I still find it uncomfortable to use because it tend to be really dirty and smelly. #OCD Eating out, especially in Seoul can be really expensive so it would be better for me to cook small meals myself to save on food expenses.

So, here is how I get started on my house hunting. Prior to going to Seoul, I did the following:

  1. Determine which area I wanted to live in (which neighbourhood, nearby subway station/bus station)
  2. Determining my budget. Contract for oneroom is normally 1 year, depending on the location, deposit can range from 2 million to 5 million won (or even 10 million won). The monthly rent I was looking at was 500,000 won (inclusive of maintenance fees and other bills like water, gas and electricity)
  3. Download apps like Jikbang, Dabang etc and have a look on the rooms available. You can also call up the agents listed on the app to make your appointment too!

Step 1 and 2 is really useful as it is very VERYYYY important to know what you want in terms of the room of your dreams. Different people may have different requirements and it is also important to remember that the lower your budget is, the lesser “requirements” i.e. you gotta be less fussy when it comes to picking a room.

To be honest, step 3 stated above is only a reference point BECAUSE once I was in Seoul, I found out that those “nice and affordable”, “new” rooms are actually non-existent. I went to this particular neighbourhood with hopes to find a new and big room at my budget but when I got there, none of the rooms showed to me looked anything like the ones I saw in the app. After asking several agents, they said those rooms are there on the app to attract people to visit the agent and deals that seems too good to be true are indeed, too good to be true.

But fret not, even though those photos/agents in the app could be fake or non trust worthy, at least you have a rough idea on how much rooms would cost in that particular area and what transportation is available near the area you wish to live in! Next comes the trip to Seoul! I planned a 4.5 days trip to Seoul and booked an Airbnb near Sinchon Rotary area. I was initially planning on looking for a room in Sinlim area but at the same time I kept my options open and tried visiting as many agents as possible to see what they have to offer!

It was really difficult for me to speak on the phone and set an appointment with the agents because none of them speak English or Mandarin. So I got my Korean friend to set some appointments for me, but due to last minute changes I actually ended up cancelling prior appointments I made and just do walk-ins to the agent’s office.

Before I continue, here are some of my requirements and budget that I had in mind for my room:

Initial Budget: 2 million – 3 million won for deposit, monthly rent of 500,000 won inclusive of maintenance fees, water, internet, gas and electricity

Revised Budget (after talking to agents and looking at some houses: max 5 million won for deposit, monthly rent of 500,000 won, excluding maintenance fees. Total monthly rent inclusive of maintenance and utilities 560,000 won tops.

Area: Sincheon, walkable distance to Yonsei University OR Sinlim (but with a cheaper budget to take into account transportation fee)

Room criteria (in order of importance): Clean room, spacious, good and safe location for girls to walk about, full option (all furniture inclusive)

Optional stuff that would be of great advantage: Elevator


I am very fortunate to have my Malaysian friend who can speak good Korean to come with me on the first day as we randomly walked into the agent office. She also shared some great tips with me which I think is VERY important. To be honest there are a lot of room hunting tips online but most, if not all that I have seen so far are in Korean.

Here are some tips from my friend and also myself after experiencing this first hand!

  1. Windows are important. Size is important because it is important to let the sunlight in and also to be able to look outside. The Airbnb Goshiwon that I stayed at for 5 days did not have a window and to be honest it nearly drove me crazy because day seems like night and night seems like…night LOL. I read somewhere that sunlight is important for a lot of very important health related reasons. On top of that, it is also important to see which direction your window is facing and if there is any tall building that may be blocking sunlight to your room. If your window is facing a busy street, it would be really noisy and dusty. And if there is a tall building right next to the window, chances are the sunlight will be blocked. Some people may not like the sun to directly shine into the room during sun light or sun set, so depending on your preference, ask the agent which direction is the window facing before making your choice!
  2. In relation to the above, some people may say that it is best to view your room on a sunny day to see how much sunlight goes into the room. But it depends on individuals because I viewed my room on a gloomy day and surprisingly it is still pretty bright. I went to view it the second time at night when it was raining outside. I think it is important for me to view the house again not just to check stuff in a more detailed manner, I specifically chose to go at night after sunset to see the condition of the building itself (if it is bright, is it dangerous to walk alone etc). AND since it was raining, I also took the opportunity to see if there is any leaks or water splattering into the room through the window.
  3. DON’T DECIDE BY IMPULSE. Putting this tip in caps because this is so important! You may find a room that you like a lot at the early stages. But give yourself more options and try looking for more because you may not know what will come up! Agents will always try to push you to sign the contract but make sure you thinking about it over and over. Ask your friends, your Korean teachers, your parents because sometimes they might see things that you don’t! Personally I waited 2 days before signing the contract because I needed time to think rationally!
  4. Negotiate! Every agent I met tells me the same thing, “You will not be able to find a room in this size at this price here in this neighborhood”. WRONG. I have seen big and small rooms at various locations in the same neighbourhood. They are all quoted in similar prices so it is important to try negotiating! Always remember not to be pressured by the language barrier or how pushy the agent is because ultimately they want to do your business and they want to close the deal! After choosing your room, talk to your agent to reduce the rent! I managed to negotiate for 10,000 won from maintenance fee and I am glad I did. It may seem to be a small sum but I actually save 120,000won per year!
  5. Underground rooms can be cheaper and bigger than other rooms located on a higher floor. But there may be underlying problems like bugs, lack of air circulation, high levels of humidity in the room which can lead to discomfort and molds and also the room being super cold in winter and very hot in the summer. I read about these issues online and also asked some of my friend’s opinion. I was intending to sign for an underground/basement oneroom but pulled out in the end.
  6. Tip from agent: Rental for rooms that has elevator tend to be more expensive.
  7. Another tip from agent + online reviews: Newer buildings have newer floor heating system, which means it takes lesser time AND gas to heat up the water and the floor. Super old buildings with old heating/boiler system may lead you to a very expensive gas bill in winter! So check the boiler before signing the contract! (More details in part 2 post)
  8. Go with a friend who can speak good Korean! Even though I can speak rather decent Korean sometimes I freak out when I am nervous and I wouldn’t be able to remember what to ask and HOW to ask!
  9. Do your homework! Aside from all the issues I have highlighted above, before and after signing the contract, there is SO much to do (paperwork, checking information of building owner etc) and every single process is quite tedious and can be pretty complicated. FYI, the contracts, verification of owner etc are all done in Korean so be mentally prepared!
  10. But fret not, before you go for house hunting, make sure you liaise with 2 to 3 Koreans who will be able to read through the contract for you on the day you seal the deal. I got my Korean teacher and 2 Korean friends to read through it for me to check if there is any weird discrepancies or things to be corrected. Once I get an all clear from them, then only I paid the contract fees.

House hunting is a pretty tiring process but it can also be very fun and rewarding! It adds to the excitement and the reality of us being able to move to Seoul soon finally started sinking in! I hope the tips highlighted in this post will be of great help to those who will be going for house hunting in Seoul. I will go into more details on important matters to check before signing the contract and what to do after signing the contract in more detail in my next post!