Housing For Teachers in South Korea: My Korean Apartment

One of the main benefits of teaching in Korea is the free apartment that comes along with the job.

This accommodation for English teachers varies with each school and area within the country. Your Korean apartment is chosen by your employer and so it’s the luck of the draw in terms of what type of housing you will receive.

Our Korean apartment
Our living area, dining room and bedroom all in one!

How you know you’re living in a Korean apartment

It’s quite an adjustment moving into an apartment in Korea. There were some things I love, and some I don’t!

1) There are no apartment keys to your South Korea apartment

This definitely tops my list of reasons why I love Korean apartments. I never have to worry about where my keys are because the entry system into my apartment is a keypad with a 4 pin code.

Housing in Korea for English teachers
Entry system into my Korean apartment

2) No oven

Gone are the days of roasted chicken and veggies. No more home-made pizza or delicious cakes. Some modern apartments have ovens but unfortunately, as an English teacher, you’ll most likely get a Korea apartment that doesn’t include this luxury.

On the bright side, this is a great excuse to eat out – and a Korean barbecue is always a great choice!

3) Korean apartment bathrooms (wetroom)

Korean bathrooms are generally small with no partition between the shower and toilet. Most things get wet when you shower but I guess that one of the perks of this is that your bathroom is always clean!

My “not-so-spacious” bathroom in Korea
My “not-so-spacious” bathroom in Korea

4) Sink and shower control

Both the sink and shower pipes are attached. You need to turn a knob on the sink if you want either the shower or sink spout to work. After a shower, we often forget to turn it off the shower setting.

This has led to many occasions where we go to wash our hands, but shoot ourselves in the face instead! Not ideal getting covered in water when you’re running late for work.


5) Ondol heating system

One central system heats the water and flooring. This has to be switched on before every shower and turned back of again when you’re done.

Surprisingly, it only takes the water a few seconds to heat up but you have to be careful not to leave it on all day, or else expect a hefty gas bill at the end of the month.

Water and floor heating system in Korean apartments
Water and floor heating system in Korean apartments

6) The mattress

Koreans love hard mattresses and so we weren’t surprised when our brand new mattress arrived and it was as hard as a rock.

If you’re moving to Korea, this is something you’re going to have to get used to. Gary and I tossed and turned every night. We woke up sore every morning as we just couldn’t get used to sleeping on such a hard surface. We eventually bought a memory foam topper which has been an absolute lifesaver.

Traditionally, Koreans slept on the floor and they preferred this hard surface. This has slowly been phased out but it is still common for Korean households to have no beds, and if they do, the mattresses are extremely hard.

7) No shoes allowed in your apartment in Korea!

All Korean apartments have a dedicated space where shoes are removed and stored before you enter the apartment. It took some getting used to but now we’ve adopted the strict Korean rule: “no shoes in the house!”.

Korean apartments for English teachers: What to expect?

Korea has limited land space and as a result, buildings are built higher, and not wider. Cities are cramped with sky-high apartment buildings, with no individual houses in sight. This is quite a contrast to the big houses with luscious lawns I am used to back home in South Africa.

Most housing is located 5-15 minute walking distance from your school, yet another convenience. It is standard to receive an apartment furnished with a bed, washing machine, gas-stove top, fridge, aircon, and TV. Internet, cable, and utilities, including gas, water, electricity are to be paid by the tenant.

As a single occupant, it is common to receive a studio apartment in South Korea which is one smallish room that serves as a bedroom, living area, and kitchen, with a separate bathroom. This is actually called a 1-room in Korea so don’t think you hit the jackpot when this appears on your contract!

As a couple, you usually receive a slightly bigger apartment, with the living space being separate to the bedroom and bathroom. Otherwise known as a 2-room in Korea, this is what we were expecting to receive when we were on the hunt for jobs. Little did we know…

Our apartment in South Korea
Our apartment in on the top left of the building. You see that small window – yep, that’s us!

My apartment in Korea

Having done a vast amount of research on the various types of housing in Korea, we had an idea of what we would or would not accept. This is the place we would call home for the next 12 months. If we weren’t happy with what was provided, we would continue our search for a job that offered better housing. Teachers are in high demand in Korea and so we could afford to be picky.

Our job interview was conducted by the couple who were leaving and so we were lucky enough to chat with them about the housing. This played a big part in our decision to accept the offer.

Being a couple, we were expecting a 2-room apartment. However, the accommodation on offer was a studio apartment (1-room) with a small indoor balcony that served as a laundry room. I was immediately opposed to it as I knew we could get a bigger place elsewhere.

After receiving images from the current occupants, I slowly warmed up to the apartment. It was a fully furnished apartment, which is not common. The view from the balcony overlooks a small river and not other buildings as most apartments in Korea do.

After days of deliberation, and weighing up the pros and cons, we decided to accept the offer.

Korean apartments for English teachers
At least we have a better view than most apartments

Inside our Korea apartment

Our apartment is on the third floor and is above a local Korean restaurant and other offices. We have a nice view of the park, which has a river running through it and an 800m tartan walking track surrounding it.

Being only a seven-minute walk to work, and close to many restaurants, convenience stores, and bus stops, the location couldn’t be better.

If you’re planning on moving to Korea, check out my post on all the things I absolutely love about the country!

  • Our kitchen is, well, “compact!”. This makes it easy when cooking as the fridge, sink, stove, and cupboards are only an arm’s length away.
Our Kitchen in our Korean apartment
The kitchen! As you can see there’s no oven and no microwave!
  • Thanks to our great balcony and big windows, the apartment get a lot of sun. When I first arrived I wondered why all Korean apartments had enclosed balconies. I soon realized that with the extreme weather in both Summer and Winter, these balconies would not be used if they were open.
Our balcony and laundry room in our Korea apartment
Our balcony and laundry room
  • The living area is big enough for 2 people, but when you’re both living in your lounge, it’s important to keep things tidy as any mess is just taking up that much-needed space.
Couple housing in Korea
Couple housing in Korea

The nitty-gritty: How much does a Korean apartment cost

Our monthly utilities for our Korea apartment range from:

  • Electricity: 40 000-65 000 won / $40-$65 (combined)
  • Gas: 10 000-30 000 won / $10-$30 (combined)
  • Internet: 16 000 won / $16 (combined)
  • Maintenance: 30 000 won / $30 (combined) – This varies from contract to contract. We have an older apartment and there have been numerous times that we’ve had to get the landlords in to repair or replace things, which they happily do.

All of the above costs are split between Gary and I. If you live alone, your costs will most likely be similar to the above as internet and maintenance are generally fixed costs but your utilities could be slightly lower.

READ MORE: Where To Stay In Jeju (Insiders Guide)

Would I change anything?

I’ve heard many stories of people living in tiny apartments that have no light and no space. But on the flip side, I know of people who have 3-bedroom apartments all to themselves.

In the end, you need to weigh up the pros and cons of your possible new home. For us, the city and school were a big attraction. Considering we would not have to spend time and money furnishing our apartment, a smaller apartment was a sacrifice we were willing to make.

Looking for more Korea travel information? Check out my other posts!

Pin This!
South Korea Apartment for teachers
About Carryn

Hi, I'm Carryn. I’m an adventure travel blogger trying to figure out my way through life by traveling and exploring. Join me as I share my travel guides and tips for life abroad. Find out more about me here.

7 thoughts on “Housing For Teachers in South Korea: My Korean Apartment”

  1. Depending on where the drain in, when I lived in Korea with wet bathroom, I got shower curtain from Daiso to separate the shower from toilet which kept the floor dry and no water splatters everywhere. But this must be a foreign idea since I’ve done same thing for my aunt’s apartment and my mother in law’s place only to find that they have removed the rod and curtain. But they do sell rod and curtains at Daiso, E Mart and other home good stores.

  2. Thanks, this is most interesting. I lived in Wando back in 09. You may be interested to read my blog.

    All the best, Paul

  3. What were your requirements for housing? I’m curious to know what would be unacceptable to you. I’m looking into possibly teaching in South Korea and would like to know what I should ask for. Thank you!

    • Hi Karee, the first thing you should do is ask for pictures of the apartment and try to get the details of the teachers currently living there so that you can reach out to them. The location should be within close walking distance to your school (or a quick bus/train trip if you live in a bigger city). It should also come with underfloor heating and air conditioning – this is standard in Korea. Also, it should be fully furnished. Hope that helps! Good luck with your potential move to Korea.

  4. Thank you for your detailed review. Just a few questions, are there any pharmacy or grocery store nearby your housing?


Leave a Comment