Living in Seoul: My One Room Apartment Experience

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Episode 2 of Korea Study Abroad Guide is Up! I couldn't find a suitable featured picture because I realized I didn't take many photos of my apartment. I also promised to film a room tour but never ended up doing it because #1 I was busy having fun and #2 my room was always really messy. The photo above is from an outfit of the day post I put on tumblr and as you can see there are a wide variety of items on top of my shoe cupboard including: clarisonic, fabric freshener, umbrella, boots from dongdaemun, acne medicine, essential oil burner, vaseline spray on lotion and a mini cactus.

One of the reasons I decided not to apply for dorms at all was because I was only staying for a semester and I wanted my own room. Most of the dorms were two people rooms so getting a single was quite difficult. Also, I had stayed in a dorm for my freshman year of college and I didn't like it at all. I wanted to be on my own for once.

seoul one room
seoul one room

The Search:
This is the front door of my place. How I ended up living here was pure destiny. The story is actually pretty funny.

Prior to my arrival in Korea, I had looked up a list of goshiwons and was determined to stay in one because it was cheaper and one of my favorite Youtubers, Izumi, had stayed in one and it looked like a lot of fun. However, being an only child, my protective mother, after seeing how small goshiwons were, said I absolutely could not live there. So we went on a search for a normal apartment. Most of the places we went to, they didn't speak English and we almost got scammed by a Chinese lady. I guess she was scamming Chinese international students in Korea because she charged a high price for a crappy room and as we were leaving a Chinese student was saying his friend wanted to switch rooms because it was leaking water. I started to feel more and more fustrated and regretted that I didn't apply for dorms. Then we went to a real estate agency and through sign language and the bit of "kdrama" Korean I had learned, I tried to communicate with the lady. The rooms she showed us though were not to my liking and the landlady wanted me to rent it for 6 months. We then took off to look at some of the other goshiwons on my list but because there are so many places with the name "Ace" I thought this building was the goshiwon. We called the number on the door and was greeted by an angry ahjusshi that didn't speak English and kept on saying "AISHHH" when he got fustrated. My dad was scared that this was not a great place but we later found out that he was just the janitor. The real landlady had studied abroad in Texas and spoke English so the rest is history. I later found out that the goshiwon I was looking for was two doors down and some of my classmates lived there. How convenient that I happened to miss it. My parents probably wouldn't have let me live there anyways.

seoul one room
seoul one room
seoul one room
seoul one room

Layout:
The room is called a "one room" in Korea or what we call a studio apartment. It is fairly small but bigger than a goshiwon. It's about the same size as the single rooms in SK Global at Yonsei. There is a kitchen, fridge, TV, bed, desk, wardrobe, and an adjacent bathroom. At first I didn't know how to turn on the hot water and I couldn't read Korean so I had to google it. I forgot to ask the landlady while she was here. The room was very dusty when I moved in and there was a spider living in the corner. I tried not to throw up as I dusted out the back of the bed...oh the horror.

Rent/Deposit:
The landlady had originally asked for a deposit of $10,000 which I later learned was typical for any Korean apartment. But I suppose because I had a trustworthy face *sarcasm* she said she was willing to take $5,000 and yes that's USD! In Korean won it would be 5,000,000. The monthly rent was $550 (550,000 won) the 50,000 was for maintenance fees. We had to rent out the room for an extra month to be able to save it for August.

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Other Costs:
Other costs include having to buy trash bags because apparently Korean people don't pay a trash fee, rather you have to buy special bags to put your trash in. The yellow one is for food and the white one is for normal trash. The convenience store girl was mean to me and it was hard communicating with her because she didn't speak English, so I ended up buying too many trash bags that were way too large. I also had to pay several utility bills and my landlady forgot to tell me that the previous months was not paid for even though I wasn't here, so I had to pay a penalty on my next bill. I had 3 utility bills I think one was for TV and other items, one was for gas and electricity and one was for water but I'm not sure...I just paid them. During the winter one of them went up quite a lot because I forgot to turn off my floor heater sometimes. I paid these by going to the CU (convenience store) next door every month.

mikes cabin sinchon korea
mikes cabin sinchon korea

Pros:

  1. Closer to restaurants and places to hang out.
  2. Convenience store right beside my door.
  3. Close to subway (could leave later than friends who lived in the dorm)
  4. After shopping and carrying heavy items my house was closer and my friends envied me for that.
  5. I felt more independent
  6. Your own fridge, kitchen and TV

Cons:

  1. Harder to communicate with landlady
  2. Hassle to pay rent every month and utility bills
  3. More expensive than dorms
  4. A lot of things you have to take care of yourself
  5. Farther away from classes. I got a lot of exercise trying to make it to classes in 10 minutes.
seoul one room
seoul one room

Overall I quite enjoyed my little room though it was a hassle to rent. I think I learned a lot on how to be independent. I also learned that I didn't need to live in a big house. I liked how easy and quick it was to clean up the room. I liked the noises from drunk people downstairs and learned a few Korean swear phrases that way. I liked how I felt I was a part of this city. I miss that little room even though when it rained so hard on the night of the Ladies' Code tragedy that my roof started leaking and I missed home. Even though it wasn't the cleanest of places, it was home to me for a short time.

Bonus Instagram Photos: @funkymonkynancy

sinchon korea
sinchon korea
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3a991a7169043c891793a5321be35ba4

If you can find the place where I lived take a picture of the door or a landmark close to it and tag me on Instagram! It'll be fun to see :) like a scavenger hunt