What are the top factors to keep in mind when searching for a place to live in your city?
Seoul is a big city and traffic can be heavy during rush hour, so location is very important. During the home search, consider the distance to workplace or school, neighborhood and surroundings, and also the access to public transportation, shops and restaurants.
What are the most popular neighborhoods in your city for expats? NORTH OF THE RIVER:
Although expats live all over the city these days, some areas are still more popular than others. Many choose the Itaewon, Hannam or Ichon-dong areas because they are closer to many of the social activities of the expat community, which can be very important to the non-working spouse.
Pyeongchang-dong and Seongbuk-dong are also very popular with families, although they are a little further away and less accessible by public transit. The two areas are hilly but contain more large homes than some other areas. Because of its proximity to schools, Seodaemun-gu (includes
Yeonhee-dong) is also a choice location for some families, although it is the most isolated from the expat social area of Itaewon.
Yongsan-gu (district) is home to a high percentage of foreign residents. The Itaewon and Hannam areas are located in Yongsan. Corporate expats and their families live here as do some military families and individuals. Many English teachers live here as well as in Haebangchon (part of Itaewon).
Housing is somewhat less expensive in Haebangchon and so it attracts many people from all over the world, including those who pay their own rent (as opposed to an employer covering the cost).
- Itaewon-dong: A very popular expat area located just north of the Han River. It is hilly and crowded with many houses and villas, and is centrally located for access to the main business districts both north and south of the river. English is widely spoken in this area and there is an international school (YISS) and many shops, restaurants, pubs and clubs. It is a popular night spot for foreigners and Koreans. School bus service is also available for most international schools.
- Hannam-dong/UN Village: Also located just north of the river and close to Itaewon. It is centrally located and access to Gangnam and the Central Business District is good. Sooncheonhyang Hospital is situated here, as well as Haddon House, a local grocery store that caters to expats. UN Village is a guarded community within Hannam-dong and is quite safe, quiet and clean with many homes and villas. There are some excellent views of the river, which is ideal. However, public transportation is less convenient from this area; many people rely on cars or taxis. There are a number of schools very close to the entrance of UN Village: ECLC, British Kindergarten School and the German School. School buses for most other international schools are available as well.
- Dongbinggo-dong: This name means "the area east of the icehouse." It was used prior to the advent of electricity to store blocks of mountain ice during the summers of the Joseon Dynasty. Its nickname is Embassy Avenue, as many foreign embassies and ambassadors' residences are located here, making it a secure and safe area to live. There are a number of villas and a few houses in the area. It has easy access to City Hall and downtown via the Namsan Tunnel and to Gangnam by way of Banpo Bridge. Most schools have buses servicing this area.
- Seongbuk-dong: An upscale neighborhood north of downtown, near the Blue House (the residence of the Korean president). It is favored by ambassadors and executives of foreign companies, as there are many nice homes with relatively large gardens. It is surrounded by Bukak Mountain so residents can enjoy nature at its best. The only issue here is the scarcity of public transportation when compared to other areas and the commute time to Gangnam. School buses are available.
- Yeonhee-dong: Many expatriates with school children live in this area located in northwest Seoul. Houses and villas are available here. The main attraction is the close proximity to the Seoul Foreign School (SFS), which is one of the more popular international schools among the expat community. The Severance Hospital, Yonsei University, the Grand Hilton Hotel and the Chinese School are also very close to this area.
- Pyeongchang-dong: A quiet and comfortable residential area located in the o northern part of Seoul. It is mostly composed of single-family houses with private gardens. One of the advantages of this area is that it is within walking distance to Bukhansan National Park. This area also offers natural beauty and great views. One drawback is limited access to public transportation, although school bus service is available for most foreign schools.
SOUTH OF THE RIVER:
Included in the south of the river choices, Gangnam and Sochu-gu are becoming increasingly popular with foreign residents. Bangbae-dong has long attracted members of the French community. Many single professionals and English teachers live in this area, which is also home to young well-to-do Korean families.
- Bangbae-dong: This area is located just south of the river coming from the Banpo Bridge and is within Seocho-gu. Bangbae-dong is a popular residential area with regards to expatriate housing. Many French expatriates prefer to live in this area since there is a French school located here. Another international school has just opened in this area, Dulwich College, which offers a British curriculum. There are many villas and a few houses in this area, public transportation is convenient and several shopping centers - such as Shinsegae Department store and the COEX Center - are not far away.
Do expats tend to buy or rent their homes?
Expats almost always rent their homes unless they are married to a Korean or planning to stay in Korea for an extended period. Purchasing a property in Seoul is quite expensive and loans from local banks are between 40% - 50% of the purchase price.
Typically, will I be required to pay additional money up front (such as a deposit) before moving into leased housing? If so, how much is common?
Housing is quite expensive in Seoul.Rent is usually paid up-front for the entire lease period (10 percent on day of signing, 90 percent on move-in day). Security deposits for expat housing in Seoul is not typical. For a house, contracts are normally two to three years; villas or apartments are one to two years.
Are utilities generally included in the price of rent, or are they extra?
Utilities are typically paid by the tenant or occupant, but can sometimes be negotiated into the contract. Utilities in Seoul (electricity & gas) tend to be quite high, especially in the summer and winter months. For a house, the average monthly utility bill will range from KRW600,000 to 1,000,000. (Keep in mind there will be spikes in summer and winter months.) Villas' and apartments' monthly average usually ranges between KRW300,000 to 600,000.
Please note: These figures are dependent upon the size of the house or apartment and upon the amount used per family.
Are there special security concerns I should be aware of in regards to my home or choice of neighborhood?
Seoul in general is a very safe city for its size. Most expat residential neighborhoods have guards on duty and most villas and apartments have a security guard. However, you are encouraged to get a security system installed if living in an unguarded house. Robberies, although not often, do occur. The two most common security systems are SECOM and CAPS.
I’m not sure if I should bring my appliances. What is the electric current, Hz and plug shape in your city?
Voltage in Korea is 220v/60Hz. Some houses in Seoul have dual voltage facility with 110v and 220v available. Please note that the frequency in Korea (60Hz) is different from most overseas countries, therefore electrical appliances with motors or sensitive systems may not work in Korea or could be damaged by the higher frequency. The TV system in Korea is NTSC. This system is incompatible with PAL or SECAM systems. Please check that all TV and VCR equipment are either NTSC or multi-system prior to shipment. DVD system is Region 3 (same as Taiwan, Hong Kong and parts of SE Asia).
Do you have any other accommodation information that might help me?
- Individual Houses: These stand on private housing lots, and typically have gardens o or yards. The heating system uses petroleum or city gas. Security is the responsibility of the occupant. These are found especially in Itaewon, Hannam-dong and Seongbuk-dong areas.
- Villas (Town Houses): These are constructed on large lots and are more spacious than apartment complexes. They usually are low-rise buildings with three or four stories. A watchman and a manager takes care of security and maintenance. This type of residence is popular with expats and found mainly in Itaewon, Hannam-dong, Dongbinggo-dong, Bangbae-dong, etc.
- Apartments (Flats): These are your typical housing for most Korean families, situated in large buildings with many stories. Several apartments congregate together, making huge complexes in some districts. Such complexes, guarded by security persons for each apartment building, come with an exclusive parking lot and a shared common area.
- Serviced Apartments: There are a number of serviced apartments located both north and south of the river and are ideal for people working in Seoul on a short-term basis. Serviced apartments are usually studio up to 3-bedroom apartments with a small kitchen and include maid service and breakfast.
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.