How to Rent an Apartment in South Korea: Detailed Instructions for Foreigners

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Typical prices for rental realty and popular areas among foreigners. Types of contracts and amounts of deposits. Risks and advice on how to avoid them. Here is a detailed guide for finding an apartment. It is useful for anyone who plans to study or work in South Korea.

We have talked to Yulia Yezhova, a translator of the Korean real estate agency Asti that helps to find apartments to expats in Busan Сity, about features of renting housing in South Korea you should learn about beforehand.

Expats in South Korea

South Korea in one of the most developed with very rich and unique culture. Each year more and more foreigners visit the land of the morning calm and stay there for work opportunities and new life experience.

But what professions are in need at the moment? Specialists of marine professions and experienced mechanics are in demand. With the development of high-tech corporations Samsung and LG, programmers, engineers and designers come to Korea. Specialists in the oil and gas industry and shipbuilding also work under the contract.

And in the last decade, a flood of foreign students poured in. Young people who are passionate about modern Korean culture, which is actively promoted through TV series and pop music. They are dreaming of learning Korean and getting to know the country better.

Also read: What to Check Before Moving Abroad as an Expat

Typical Prices for Rental Properties

The expat population of South Korea is very diverse in terms of income, lifestyle and future plans. Demand for housing also varies greatly.

Those who came to work and plan to return or move somewhere else in the future usually settle in low-cost places, such as studio apartment located within transport accessibility from work. The deposit for such a property is about $5,000, and the monthly fee is about $400. Many of such offers can be found in Texas or Chinatown districts.

Those who have a long-term contract in Korea are mainly interested in high-quality housing. They know the city well and choose to live in a house in the area they prefer the most. In this case, the popular districts are city beaches Haeundae and Songdo.

A big apartment for long-term rent in Busan will cost about $1,000-1,500 a month with an average deposit of $25,000. It is the system of collateral when renting a home and the impact of the deposit amount on the rental price that is the main difficulty for those who first came to South Korea.

Haeundae Beach, South Korea
Haeundae Beach, South Korea

Types of Contracts

Free Accommodation with a Large Deposit

The most mysterious type of rental for a foreign understanding is renting a house without a monthly fee under a large deposit. This type of lease is typical only for South Korea.

On average, the amount of collateral is 50-70% of the cost. Let's say a large apartment is estimated at $200,000, then when renting out the owner will ask for $120,000-140,000.

Such an agreement is usually concluded for two years. At the end of the contract, the deposit amount is fully refunded to the tenant.

If you need to move out earlier, you need to be prepared to wait for the next tenants who agree to come in on a large deposit. The owner usually cannot return the entire amount in advance, because they usually put this money into circulation, for example, pay the developer or the bank.

"At the same time, there are guarantees that you will get the money back. The owner is obliged to pay the deposit at the end of the contract, but it is necessary to warn them that you will move out. The silence of residents is perceived here as an agreement to automatically extend the lease for another two years, – advises Yulia Yezhova. – It is important to register an apartment rental agreement with the district administration and put a special seal. In this case, the owner of the property will not be able to suddenly sell it and ask you to move out. That is, you are guaranteed to keep the place of living for the entire term of the contract.

Rent with a large deposit is a great option for those who intend to buy an apartment in South Korea, but do not fully understand the market, want to take a closer look, try to live in a certain area or save up for their own place. The absence of a monthly rental fee allows you to save money and earn more quickly on the purchase of real estate."

Apartments with Monthly Payment

More often expats in South Korea choose to rent with a monthly payment. Such a contract is also concluded for two years, although a one-year contract is possible in some cases.

This form of rent also has its own "Korean" features. Apartments are rented only upon the security. Monthly payments can be approximately from 1 million to 5 million won (from $1,000 to $5,000, respectively) for long- term rentals of a one-room apartment or studio. Apartments without deposits are rare: it is either your friends' apartments, when the owner fully trusts the tenants, or poor-quality housing.

The deposit is taken for the owner of the property to have a guarantee of payment. It may not be returned in full, if the terms of the contract are not met (for example, residents abruptly move out). If the tenant is a defaulter, then they do not receive their deposit back.

Learn more about looking for a job internationally

Search for Real Estate and Realtor Services

If you know the language and local rental rules, you can move into the apartment in just one or two days. To do so, you need to come to a real estate Agency located in the desired area, where you will be offered options. Korean realtors are attached to one residential block or even one apartment building and rarely work throughout the city. Therefore, those who are looking for housing, but do not know exactly where they want to settle, you need to save time to visit real estate agencies in different areas.

Future tenants usually only need a deposit and a passport to enter into a contract. Sometimes the owner may ask what activities the tenant is engaged in, if they have pets and how many people are planning to live there.

According to South Korean law, the real estate agency commission depends on the amount of the contract and is calculated at a special rate.

"As a rule, the realtor is paid at the conclusion of the contract, usually two parties contribute an equal amount from 0.5% to 0.9% of the contract value. In our case, since we work with a foreign audience, the payment for an interpreter and, if necessary, an advisor is added, – Yulia Yezhova notes. – In case of a sudden move, early termination of the contract and its renewal to other tenants, the commission is paid to the realtor by the tenant. The owner of the apartment has already signed a contract with them and does not have to pay for its renewal."

Utilities and Internet are paid for by tenants. At the same time, each new resident connects the Internet themselves (enters into a contract with a telecommunications company in their own name).

Utilities are paid by meters (water, light, gas). Plus, there is a fee for building maintenance (elevator, cleaning, lighting, security, garbage collection). Depending on the apartment, its size and type of house, the monthly fee is $100-250.

"When leaving the apartment, utility and other payments are calculated on the day of departure. Many people are surprised: I have already paid the last receipt and do not owe anything. But if the last payment was on the fifth day, and you lived until the fifteenth, then, of course, another ten days must be paid," explains Yulia Ezhova.

The cost of parking in rented apartments depends on the type of complex. If this is a low building, then there are always free parking spaces nearby, however, there are not enough of them and there are not enough for all residents. In apartment buildings, the rental price usually includes one parking space per apartment, but if the apartment is considered large, it is allowed to park two cars per family for free.

Repairs in a rented apartment are usually made by the owners before the arrival of new residents. Two weeks after check-in, according to the law, is given to check the equipment. The owner is obliged to repair what was in a non-working condition immediately. In the future, if something breaks, the issue is resolved based on the cause of the failure. For example, an air conditioner that stopped working due to old age must be replaced by the owner. Residents can pay for repairs themselves, and next month it will be deducted from the rental cost.

"Any repair and replacement of equipment must be agreed with the owner. For example, you are not satisfied with the refrigerator because it is old. You can change it yourself, but after leaving it must stay, – says Yulia Yezhova. – It is important for Koreans that the apartment is returned to them in the same condition as it was handed over. It is accepted that even drilling walls and driving in nails is not allowed without approval."

Busan Metropolitan City, South Korea
Busan Metropolitan City, South Korea

Safely Moving In and Out in South Korea

It is necessary to warn the landlord about moving out a month before the end of the contract.

Foreigners think that you can call the apartment owner on the day of departure and immediately get the deposit money, but they are wrong. According to the rules of the Korean real estate market, if you do not warn the owner that you will move out a month prior, this is regarded as an extension of the contract and your desire to stay in the apartment longer.

An important caveat when leaving the apartment: you need to be very careful about returning the deposit. If you have already vacated the premises, gave the owner the code from the apartment, expect a trick with the return of the deposit, because the departure has officially taken place.

"In South Korea, there is a law prohibiting the expulsion of a tenant as long as their belongings are in the house. Therefore, if there are suspicions of dishonesty of the owner, it is better to be safe and do not take out some of the things before you get your money. Usually the owner and tenants pay on the spot, right in the apartment, after which the former tenant immediately takes the suitcase and leaves, – advises Yulia Ezhova. – The owner of the apartment is also at risk, if they start let in new tenants before the conclusion of the contract and payment. If you have already put your things in the apartment, according to the law, they cannot be moved out. And the owner has every reason to fear that they will not receive payment and have to evict you with the police.

This is why we often encounter a lack of understanding of clients when they ask us to leave things in the apartment after viewing it. "Can we keep our stuff here, it's empty?" – this is not the case in South Korea. Check-in – check-out is a delicate point, everyone is nervous, and the help of an advisor in this case will save you from many embarrassments."

Leave a request to recieve information about real estate offers in South Korea

Relationship With the Owner

A real estate agency in South Korea is not required to solve such everyday issues, and Korean realtors usually are not concerned about the future of apartments.

"In the market, it is accepted that all issues residents and owners decide between themselves," the expert explains, - " But, for example, our agency specializes in working with foreigners, and we know that for an expat communication with the property owner can cause difficulties. That's why we lead our clients to the end."

By the way, Koreans respect the personal territory of residents and never come to their apartments without a warning. Even if there is an urgent need, such as a planned repair or urgent replacement of the air conditioner, they always agree on the date and time of the visit.

"Thanks to this quality of our clients, we are able to negotiate with apartment owners for a lower deposit and thereby improve the quality of life of expats in Busan," Yulia concludes.

Photos: pixabay.com


Quoting conditions of Prian materials

Tags: Republic of Korea, Life abroad, Real Estate, The cost of living, Property Maintenance

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