Apartment Living Korean Style

Well we did it! We found a new apartment closer to work and surprisingly it’s not the size of a shoebox!  Through finding a new apartment, I realized that I had never shown any pictures of our old place on this little blog of mine. Finding an apartment as a foreigner can be a little tricky. Most of the time, apartments are provided by the school for the foreign teacher. But since we knew we wanted to stay in Korea for a few more years and weren’t sure if we would be staying with the same school, we wanted to find a place of our own so if we did by chance change workplaces, we wouldn’t have to change apartments.

To find the place that we are currently in, we narrowed down the area that we wanted to be in and drove around for days, looking for new buildings or buildings that would be soon be done. We then gave the telephone number of that apartment to a rockstar Korean friend of ours who would then call the building and get all of the details for us. Not too difficult, just time consuming. We felt extremely blessed with the building that we found. It was a great location for us at the time, the landlady was beyond nice and went out of her way to work with us and make us feel at home, and it was the perfect size for the both of us. Which surprises me since back in the states we felt cramped in a 700 square foot apartment and our old place was roughly 600 square foot apartment (or about 18 pyeong-the Korean measurement) and felt spacious.

Paying rent in Korea is a little different also. You have rent but then you also have what is called ‘key money’. Think of it as a really big deposit before you move in. Most apartments start with key money of $5,000-$10,000. But here’s the cool part. Say you found an apartment for $600 and they required $5,000 key money. Well say that you had more money saved up (lucky you) and wanted to put it towards the apartment. Well, typically for every $10,000 extra that you are willing to put down, the rent will go down by $100 a month (this is not a rule but what we have found to be true). Every apartment has a limit of how much key money they will accept and how low they will let the apartment rent go down to. But it’s such a great way for those savers out there to save some money on rent. You may be asking ‘do you get that money back?’ And the answer is, yup. Every penny of the key money that you put down, you get back the day that you move out of the apartment. Win win.

Without further ado, our humble Korean abode.

Most of the apartments in Korea don’t have key holes. Instead they have keypads where you type in the code and it opens the door. Great for people like me who are prone to lock my keys inside. 

Before and after of our bathroom. Traditional Korean bathrooms have no separation of the shower from the rest of the bathroom which leaves the whole place soaked whenever you shower. To prevent this, hubs took a ridge of plastic and used caulk to secure it on the floor, stopping any water from flowing out of the shower area and also added a shower curtain.

There is no central heat and air in Korea. This is both our air con and our heating along with having floor heat.

The view from our back window.
Wood cabinets are extremely expensive and therefore extremely rare in Korea. Majority of places have plastic cabinets and prefabricated kitchen units. 
  • Hockey Wife

    I love seeing other expat apartments, and how they make them home. Your place looks quite nice. 😉

    • http://lostintravelsblog.com/ Chelsea @ Lost in Travels

      Thanks! We really liked this place, we have been really blessed on the apartments we’ve found here!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11757580011765426688 Mary Ruthrina Ofalla

    The apartment is simple but very practical so it is great. I would love to visit Korea and get to experience their culture. The lock is truly better compared to ordinary doors that use keys. I would love to have this kind of flooring for luxury apartments York. I think wood is really a great material and it gives a warm ambiance to the apartment.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02030362917881238951 Lauren

    Oh.my.gosh….I’m so excited I found your blog again. Somehow it got deleted and then you moved it over to a new address…but anyway yay I’m back to following. My sister lives in China currently and has the same shower situation. I will definitely be sharing this idea with her.

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03340277403271465452 lost in travels

      i remember you! i’m so glad that you found the new address!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12090735810562146009 M and L

    It’s cute! good idea with the shower curtain. showering in the open would be so uncomfortable. can’t wait to see the new place :)


    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03340277403271465452 lost in travels

      i loved it! plus a shower curtain can automatically make a place feel more like home!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00004901751638812872 Jess

    I love that he created a separate shower space in the bathroom for you guys! That was the worst apart about traveling in Asia for me!

    My travel tuesday post: Some Snapshots Blog

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03340277403271465452 lost in travels

      I agree! I hate accidentally walking into big puddles in the middle of the bathroom!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05503631220292137361 Andrea @ Mostly Happenstance

    I can’t believe the shower isn’t separated that has to be dangerous when the drain gets clogged. That’s great your husband was able to rig up the separator. I love that blue and gray back splash in the kitchen. You’ve done a great job decorating!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03340277403271465452 lost in travels

      yea, the bathrooms here are quite…interesting. after we put in the shower curtain it felt a lot better!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13231851785936619112 Megan Vining

    My husband and I just moved to Italy, and it seems like the housing is a lot alike! Especially with the kitchens. We were lucky enough to find a villa that was as close to a typical “American” house as we could possibly find here in Italy.
    I can’t wait to read more about your time living abroad!


    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03340277403271465452 lost in travels

      that’s so awesome! we would love to live in europe at some point! congrats on finding a somewhat ‘american’ place while you’re there! it always makes it seems so much more like home : )

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10634200732478589013 Brittany Kyte

    How cute! You apartment is such a great size for Korea!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03340277403271465452 lost in travels

      thanks! we thought so too! we loved the size and it was perfect for us!so much better than the ONE room studio our company was going to provide!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/07238434752028472905 Jenna

    Your apartment was so cute! I love the zen style couch and the compact kitchen. Can’t wait to see the new place :)


    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03340277403271465452 lost in travels

      thanks! we actually found that couch on the street haha, i’ll explain more later. hopefully i’ll have pics of the new place up next week!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08190048508109863004 Corinne

    I think it’s so cute! I didn’t know that about the bathrooms – that definitely would throw me for a loop!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03340277403271465452 lost in travels

      thanks! it’s one of hubs biggest pet peeves over here! when you take a shower, everything gets soaked!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17635319552787315251 ms.composure

    o wow! very cute!!! i def would need way more space!! LoL


    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03340277403271465452 lost in travels

      thankfully our new place is just a little bit bigger but we were surprisingly comfortable in this space!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08289687166129524502 Jess

    I remember first getting to Korea and thinking that there’s NO way I’d ever feel like I had enough space in the tiny apartments, but it quickly became home and was EXACTLY what I needed/wanted!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03340277403271465452 lost in travels

      we were the same way! now we watch house hunters from back home and are thinking ‘what will they do with ALL that space!!’ it’s so crazy how perceptions can change from living overseas!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16481697260547021010 Lisa

    its cute but soo small!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03340277403271465452 lost in travels

      it’s quite small compared to the states and what we’re sued too but you’d be amazed at how quickly you can adapt to living in a smaller area!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12050447967374041694 Rachel

    The new apartment is really nice! You guys need to get on international house hunters at some point – I’d totally watch.

    And your hubby is a smart one re: the shower curtain. Our hotel bathroom in Amsterdam was like that and I remember getting water all over my makeup bag, towels etc. :)

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03340277403271465452 lost in travels

      thanks! this is actually our old one but hopefully i’ll have pics up of the new one soon! we’ve talked about it so many times because we LOVE that show! thank goodness for resourceful husbands! it’s a pain when the entire room gets soaked!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08909202849532507950 Dan and Vanessa

    This is so cute! Congrats on getting your own apartment here in Korea!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03340277403271465452 lost in travels

      thank you thank you! we love having our own place and not having to worry about dealing with our bosses with things. feels a little more like home!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04585816729964741872 Jay

    Are all of the windows frosted?

    I love seeing homes around the world! Looking forward to seeing the new place!

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03340277403271465452 lost in travels

      why yes, yes they are. there’s still a lot of sunlight that gets in and there’s also another window behind that one so there’s the option of opening one side up. hopefully i’ll have pictures up next week!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06720694596549999667 Caroline

    This reminds me of living in China! It’s amazing how Eastern and Western styles of living are so different, but people are comfortable in both! Can’t wait to see your new place :)

    • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03340277403271465452 lost in travels

      what amazed me is how quickly our perceptions changed of what a ‘large’ living space is! that’s so awesome that you lived in china, what city were you in?