Everything we heard about Korean apartments before arriving here is that they are small… like really, really small.
When imagining what our apartment would be like, we pictured a tiny crawl space with a stove, a toilet and a bed all nestled together in the same room. Makes multi-tasking easy, I guess?
We weren’t too worried though. Earlier this year, we spent three months living out of backpacks and sleeping in hostel dorms, after all.
But when we finally opened the door to the place we would be calling “home” for the next year, we were shocked.
It is huge!
Like, much bigger than what either of us had imagined. A “Korean surprise” I could get on board with.
Though it is larger than the apartment we rented back in Minneapolis, it’s not quite as cozy. Little by little though, we have filled it with the necessities, tacked pictures to the walls, and made it our home.
Below is a video tour of our humble abode… Welcome!
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Comments (13) on “Korean Apartment Tour”
Hello! My husband and I are in the process of applying to teach in South Korea, and I was wondering about what clothes I should leave behind. I’ve heard that women should avoid wearing strappy tops, bare backs, and anything that reveals cleavage. Is it really that conservative in South Korea?
Hi! I know I’m late but I want to apply but i have a husband and two small kids, how will housing work? Can I put I’m married with kids
However, I haven’t heard of anybody joining EPIK with children. Maybe it happens, but we have not personally seen it. This would be a question for the EPIK team, they would know more about that. Sorry I can’t be more helpful.
I’ve only seen studio apartments but yours has your own bedroom! Is this normal, or because you are a married couple? We are wanting to come this summer and we have a baby who will be 1 1/2 years old. We were concerned that we would be stuck in a studio, but this makes me hopeful! Advice, comments?? My email is firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to hear more! Thank you!
Hey Debby, our schools thought since we were married that we needed a two bedroom apartment, haha. We would have been just fine with a studio or a one bedroom, but we had no choice in the matter. There is an option with EPIK to not have your school set you up with an apartment and for you to find one yourself. That way you get a housing allowance every month, but this is typically not done by first year teachers.
If you want to have more control over where you live and what kind of apartment you have, maybe choosing a hagwon (private school) would be a better option. With EPIK, you really have no say in where you live or what your apartment is like. I hope this helps. Let us know if you have more questions.
Would you say that your apartment was a typical size? Also, do you happen to know if teachers are generally placed in their own apartment or with roommates?
Hey Alicia, Our apartment was a little bit bigger than most because we’re a married couple and our schools thought we need a bigger apartment for some reason. Typical Korean apartments will have a kitchen with a small living space (couch and table) and a seperate bedroom and bathroom. And teachers usually get their own apartment with the contract (no roommates). Let us know if you have any other questions!
This isn´t necessarily about housing, but I´m bringing my bf with me who will not be teaching English. Do you recommend I mention I´m bringing a dependent on my application, or is it best in terms of my candidacy to leave the information off? I´m worried I might offend with having an un-mentioned dependent, but I´m also worried it will effect the job opportunities also. Any insight is appreciated. Thank you!
Also, great blog. It´s so well-organized and informative. Very well done. Keep up the good work!
Hey Teresa, great question. To be honest, as with many things in Korea it will probably just depend on the school you get placed at. There are many administrators who wouldn’t care at all, but probably some that would.
I knew of a few people who had significant others living with them without telling their school, so I don’t think you’d necessarily have to. I’ll tell you my recommendation, but I think at the end of your day you should go with your gut and whatever is going to make you most comfortable.
Will you be applying to EPIK or going through a Hagwon? My recommendation would be if you are going through a Hagwon to tell them since you will be interviewing with the actual school. I wouldn’t think it won’t be too big of an issue with most schools. (In general, Koreans love couples and it means that you will be happier and maybe even more likely to stay if you have a partner with you.) If you’re applying to EPIK though, I don’t think I would mention it. Or maybe you could tell your recruiter AFTER accepting the offer. They do not place you at the actual school until you’re in Korea, so I think letting them know would be more info than they need right away.
I know it’s not a clear cut answer, but I hope this helps a little. Best of luck!
I’m looking into the EPIK program and I was wondering how the housing work. Do they find you a place or it is okay to find your own apartment from the money they provide for the housing.
Hey Euna, that’s a great question. It is very uncommon for first-year EPIK teachers to get the stipend and arrange their own housing. I honestly haven’t heard of any first-year teachers who have done this. There are several reasons for this:
1) You will get your school assignment until the DAY BEFORE orientation ends. Most schools have already sorted out the apartment before they get the name of the teacher who was assigned to their school, so there would be no way for you to communicate to them that you’d prefer to find your own housing.
2) Since you won’t even know the name of the city/neighborhood you’ll be placed in until the day before you leave orientation, there’d be no way for you to arrange housing near your school. Even if you are placed in Seoul – it is a huge (very spread out) city, and knowing the exact neighborhood is essential to getting housing. You just wouldn’t have enough time or info to get housing figured out since you start work the very next day.
3) If you’ve read some of our other articles on life in Korea, you’ll know that often times things seem like they’d be easy to do, but getting approval for them seems nearly impossible (like finding your own housing). And so many factors just depend on your actual principal. Our principals were both very strict and by-the-books, for example.
3) All this said, it is not unheard of for 2nd year teachers to take the stipend and find their own housing. You’ll already know the neighborhoods and give your school some time to get the proper approval to get you the stipend instead of the apartment. Your school, however, may want to keep that apartment for future teachers and won’t be as flexible about giving you a stipend instead. So much just depends on your actual school placement.
I hope this information is helpful to you, Euna. Good luck and let us know if you have any other questions!
How did you guys get a place together? My girlfriend and I are looking to work for spring intake and I am reading mixed versions of couples housing?
Hey Steve, great question! We were married when we applied, so we were placed in the same city and our schools worked together to get us an apartment. It is not the same situation for dating couples unfortunately.
We had several friends who taught in Korea along with a gf/bf, but since it is a conservative society (by appearance) they all got separate apartments. If you are applying with a girlfriend/boyfriend, you aren’t guaranteed to be in the same city, or even the same province. To have the best chances of being in the same area, we’d suggest applying for a province other than Seoul (since it’s pretty competitive and perhaps only one of you would get placed there and the other could be in a totally different region). Talking to a recruiter might be helpful so you can figure out which provinces give you the best chances of being placed near each other.
It just totally depends. One dating couple in our province was placed in the same town with apartments down the block from each other, so they pretty much just chose one to stay in. While another couple in our province was placed at opposite ends of the region, making transportation to see each other 3 hours.
You could get lucky, but you won’t know your situation until you’re already in Korea. It could be an adventure if you’re willing to make the most out of the situation, but if you want to be guaranteed to be in the same place, your best chance as a dating couple would be to apply with a hagwan. (There are definitely cons to working in the private schools as opposed to public/EPIK, but you’d at least know that you’ll be in the same place if that’s important to you.) I’m not 100% sure how hagwans work (since we went through EPIK), but depending on the owner, you may be able to convince them to give you one apartment. If they do that, be sure you get a stipend for the remainder of money they save by only renting one apt as opposed to two.
I hope this information is helpful. I’m not trying to make it sound bad – just want to give you the honest truth so you know what the chances are of living near each other. It will be such a wonderful experience for the two of you, and I wouldn’t let the housing situation deter you at all!
Let us know if you have more questions with the process or life in Korea.
Best of luck!