Housing Guide in Korea

Lenuel Morales
3/17/2022 7:32:47 AM

Do not worry even if you do not have a place to stay when you arrive in Korea. You can even move in on the same day the contract is signed! However, if you are worried, we recommend that you start looking for a room 2-3 weeks before arriving.


When renting a room in Korea, there are two typical ways of paying your rent: monthly rent and Jeonse. Jeonse is a real estate jargon unique to South Korea that refers to the way apartments are leased.

• Monthly Rent (Monthly Payment + Deposit)

Pay a deposit to the landlord before moving in.

Pay monthly rent on a specified date each month.

The deposit can be decreased by increasing the monthly payment.

• Jeonse (Deposit Only)

Pay a large sum of deposit instead of monthly rent.

The deposit is returned to the tenant at the end of the contract.

Only pay the maintenance fee and utility expenses

Usually unfurnished.

For foreigners who prefer short-term contracts or have a low budget, monthly rent is the best option.

What if you found a room you really like, but your budget cannot cover the rent for the room? Usually, monthly payments and deposits are negotiable.

As mentioned, a deposit can be decreased if the monthly rent is increased. How is this possible? Simply, raising the deposit by 1,000,000KRW is equivalent to reducing monthly rent by 10,000KRW. This is possible because a landlord can collect interest from the money deposited in the bank instead. In this way, you are able to negotiate the rent for the room.


It is possible to find a room by yourself. However, the easiest and most convenient way is using a real estate agency.

• Real Estate Brokerage

Most real estate agents take out guaranty insurance and have expert knowledge in Korean real estate. As such, they can guarantee the safety of the real estate transaction for their customers. However, customers are required to pay a service fee to brokers.

• Direct Deal

Dealing directly with landlords/ladies or tenants who want to move out before their lease contract ends. By doing so, you can save the real estate service fee. However, the safety of the transaction is not guaranteed. If you want to make a direct deal, you should be careful because there are real estate fraud cases especially involving foreigners. Therefore, you should check the ownership of the building (the name of the owner and the name of the person who makes contact with you should be the same) and the state of legal rights to the building thoroughly.

• Where to live

The location of the room is also an important aspect when you go looking for a room. You have to consider the distance to your school/work, atmosphere, public transportation, and safety.

• Setting your budget

There are a bunch of properties available at a wide range of prices. To save time, setting a budget for your room is important to narrow down the listings to peruse. Prior to setting your budget, you have to check the market price of the area you are interested in.


If you use a real estate agency, there is nothing you need to take care of. However, if you are trying to find a room by yourself, there are some important points you have to keep in mind.

• Transferring down payment

When you make a contract, a down payment is needed to reserve the room. Before sending the down payment to a landlord, you must check that the name of the account holder matches up with the name of the landlord. You can verify this through the certified copy of the register.

• Checking certified copy of the register

A certified copy of the register shows the information on a house/building. You can find out information on the owner of the house and whether there is any outstanding mortgage on the house stated in the document.

• Term of contract

For monthly rent, a 24-month contract is a norm in Korea. However, in university districts or studio apartment-heavy areas where most students desire contracts on a yearly basis, a 12-month contract is possible (Mostly in Kwanak, Gangnam, Mapo, Suyu)

Usually, landlords prefer long-term contracts as they do not want to pay real estate service fees too often. Furthermore, they lose money by having empty rooms from short contract periods. Therefore, it is not easy to find a room that can be rented for only a few months. That is why rooms available for the short-term are more expensive than rooms for year-long rentals.


There is one more step left. After you sign a contract, there are two scenarios:

• You already have an ARC (Alien Registration Card)

You should notify the community service located near your new address within 14 days (unless you notify your moving-in within 14 days, you will be fined), following which you can get a stamp stating the definite date on your contract paper. Just visit a community service center with your contract paper and ARC to fill out the form.

• You do not have an ARC yet

You do not need to bring a completed contract (this is done when you move in) when you go through the airport immigration. Just tell them the address of your place in Korea. You can complete the address registration for foreigners with the finished contract in hand after moving in. Bring your contract and passport to the Korean immigration office and they will do all the paperwork for you.

Once you are done with this process, your deposit is protected by the ‘HOUSING LEASE PROTECTION ACT’. This might not be familiar to you. If a building is put up for auction, you have the right to preferential payment that can be repaid, up to a maximum of 3,7000,000 won for buildings located in Seoul (the amount varies for different provinces and cities).


• Waste Disposal

Korea has strict regulations regarding waste disposal and recycling. All garbage must be disposed of properly. If you get caught not doing so, you will be fined.

• General Waste

- Bags can be purchased at convenience stores and supermarkets (comes in 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100L).

- Dispose of trash bags in designated locations.

- Bags are district-specific, buy bags for your district.

- Some shops provide general waste bags like grocery bags. It costs around 250 KRW. Not all bags you receive from shops can be used as trash bags.

• Food Waste

Food waste bags can be purchased at convenience stores and supermarkets.

- Dispose of food waste bags in designated locations or in food waste bins.

- Some areas use large containers for food waste collection. Simply empty your food waste into this container.

- Do not include the waste that cannot be consumed by livestock such as fruit seeds, nutshells, eggshells, bones, etc.

• Large Item Disposal

- Visit your community center or its website to purchase a label. The fee can range from 2,000 KRW to 15,000 KRW depending on the size and type of the item to be disposed of.

- Attach the appropriate label on the item to be disposed of.

- Place the item street side on the appropriate pickup date.

• Recycling

- Wash containers before disposal.

- Place your recyclable trash in designated locations contained in any plastic bag on the same day as general trash pickup.

- Some areas have separate containers labeled accordingly for plastic, metal, glass, vinyl, paper, etc.

• Utility Expense

Gas, Electricity, Water differs depending on the contract.

- bills will be delivered to your house every month.

- Check the due date and charged amount

- Visit a bank to proceed with the payment within the due date for your bills. (Bank tellers will help you make the payment)