Long-term Accommodations in Seoul

[UPDATE: As of 2016, there more sites using English, and you do get more hits while googling for long term accommodations]

I love Korea, don’t get me wrong. But the truth is, Korea is still not that english-friendly. Though most popular tourist attractions have a lot of english signboards around and Seoul especially, is very foreigner-friendly, the rest of Korea is not that easy to navigate around. And if you happen to have zero knowledge of Korean, you can kiss goodbye to finding proper accommodations online.

I am serious. I just tried googling ‘ Cheap accommodations in Korea for students’ and all that came up was hotels and service apartments. Not exactly the cheap accommodations I was thinking of. Thank goodness for Lonely Planet which at least provide a forum for people seeking for accommodation ideas.

Of course, getting to stay in the university dormitories, would be the best, most comfortable and convenient choice. But what if something happens and you miss out on the dorms?
So here’s a small guide to introducing the types of accommodations in Seoul.
Note that the types listed here are for LONG-TERM stay. There are plenty of information online for short-term stays like a week or so (i.e. Guesthouses, Youth Hostels, Backpack Hostels)

P.S: Photos shown are only for illustration. Accommodations differ by pricing and hence, the photo are no accurate description. You should always view your accommodation before deciding to stay in it long-term 

1.  Catered for the professionals – Officetel

Basically like a combination of an office and a hotel. If you can looking for comfort more than anything and don’t mind stretching the dollar a lot more, Officetel might be the right place you are looking for. Is big, comfy and information about it can be found easily online as many expats choose this form of accommodation. It can also be easily found in affluent areas like Gang-nam or even near the airports.
Of course, the price differs widely depending on if you are residing in the country-side or the city.
However, be prepared to pay more than W700,000 per month.

 

Useful website for officetel: Rate My Hagwon

2. The comfy choice for students – One Room (원롬)

Just like how the name suggests, it basically is ‘one room’. Largely similar to the officetel and in fact, a search on google, will indicate that both refer to the same thing. However, one-rooms around universities are a popular choice for not only international but also local students. Therefore, monthly rent tends to be much cheaper than an officetel which is especially catered for professionals or a.k.a people with monthly income and spending ability.

Like the officetel, though less spacious, one room also packs in all the facilities (bathroom, kitchen…) into the room itself

3. The common choice for students – Hasukjip (하숙집)
If you are a poor student, looking to scrimp a little for accommodation and save the rest of your money for traveling, a Hasukjip (as featured in the drama Reply 1994), might be exactly what you are looking for.
Unlike the above two, a Hasukjip is basically just a tiny room where you have just enough space for a bed, a tiny television and a desk. Bathrooms and kitchen is shared amongst the people who live in the Hasukjip. The good thing is even though is cheap, it comes along with free meals, two per day, provided by the ajummas who own the Hasukjip. Sometimes, they would even do your laundry for free. And I have heard that Hasukjip is actually the best place to meet lots of Koreans for there are a lot of opportunities for you to interact and try and talk to them.
Unfortunately, it is hard to book a Hasukjip online because most of them do not advertise over the Internet. Your best bet would to be walking around neighbourhoods looking for the 하숙 sign. They are usually very common near the universities e.g. Sinchon, Hyehwa
4. Cheap and basic – Goshiwon (고시원)
The cheapest on the list, and another widely popular choice amongst students is Goshiwon. Literally translated to “test centre’, the Goshiwon is famous for providing a place to sleep for students preparing for examinations. For a very basic room, prices can go as low as W250,000 per month.
A Goshiwon is very similar to a Hasukjip, a tiny room (or a rathole as some might say) with basic facilities like a bed, desk, Internet connections and a television (pay a higher rent for a room with windows or a room with bathroom). Bathrooms and kitchens are shared and unlike the Hasukjip, only rice and kimchi is provided.
Most Goshiwons are situated on the 4th or 5th floors with the 1st floors managing other businesses (e.g. Karaokes, BBQ shops), so it might be loud at times.
Unless you are prepared to cast comfort aside, Goshiwon is NOT the choice for you. And if you happen to be claustrophobic, forget about a Goshiwon.
I myself stayed in a Goshiwon after moving out of the dorms for two days, and boy was I depressed during the period. It was such a tiny area, that I can’t move around after putting down my bag.
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 I certainly hope this post is of some use and provide some light about the different types of accommodations you can choose if you are heading over to Korea for either exchange or work.
My only advice is to make a Korean friend who can help you if you are looking for accommodation. If not, it might be a really high hurdle to cross if you don’t know Korean at all.
Other useful links:
General:
Officetel:
Goshiwon:
http://blog.daum.net/319kms/385 (not advertising for them but site has some english which might be useful)
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