I’m back! The new school semester has begun here in Korea and things are getting a bit hectic. Over winter break, I moved from living in the dormitories to living off-campus. The process was stressful to say the least, but I am more adjusted now and enjoy my freedom a bit more (compared to living in a place where you had to record your temperature everyday or risk getting kicked out).
Reflecting on my moving out and moving in process made me want to give others the heads-up about some things that I experienced or heard about that would be helpful to know about if you choose to live off-campus.
The whole reason why I couldn’t stay in the dorms for another semester is …. *rolls eyes* pretty absurd, but that’s a story for another time….
To say the least, I was heading to be homeless in approximately two weeks and I was STRESSED. After a 4-hour Facetime with my parents – starting at 4am their time – in which I was either crying, stressed, or upset, I ended up finding a reasonably sized Airbnb and booked it for the semester period.
This ended up working out well for me and I am really happy that I went with this route 🙂
Tip: If you book an Airbnb, always double check and read the terms and conditions as well as the cancellation policy just in case.
Before all of that chaos, I considered off-campus housing (under the guise and plan that I would be living in the dorms another semester) and went house hunting with a friend to see what options international students had for living off-campus.
Faith’s House Hunting Tips 🏠:
- Most one-rooms (원룸) require a large deposit amount ranging from $3,000-$5,000 and have lower monthly rates from $400-$700 per month depending on the location and place
- One-rooms are exactly what they sound like. A bed, bathroom (toilet/shower head), desk/chair, kitchen, and washer all in one room. Compared to America, I would say that these rooms are often a bit small for my personal liking.
- People use apps like “직방”, “다방”, and “고파스” (KU-specific) to find listings of available housing spaces or go to 부동산 or real estate agencies that help show you around listings
- Renter’s insurance doesn’t typically exist (to my knowledge…I could be wrong)
- If renting a one-room, make sure to check the building owners’ debt. If they have a high amount of it, they are more likely to not return your deposit ;-;
- READ OVER CONTRACTS CAREFULLY! Use Papago to your full advantage and don’t feel pressured to make a decision that day. Sit and think on it with a clear head.
- When touring available rooms, check the running water in all of the sinks to make sure that the water is clear and falls out correctly. Also be on the lookout for mold near windows, on the walls, in the bathroom, etc because black mold is a huge health problem in some Korean rooms.
House Hunting Words to Know:
- 부동산 – real estate agency
- 월세 – monthly payments
- 관리비 – utilities bill
- 보증금 – deposit
- 남향** – windows that face the sun (southward) = good lighting
- 관리비 얼마예요? – how much is the utilities fee?
- 관리비에 가스 요금도 포함인가요? – will gas be included in the utilities fee?
- CCTV 있나요? – is there CCTV? (A VERY important question to ask)
- “500/45/5” – this is the system for listing out the deposit amount, monthly rent, and utilities bill; in translation, it means “5,000,000₩/450,000₩/50,000₩”. For those who don’t know what that sounds like out loud, its “오백에삼십오에오”/oh-baek-eh sam-sip-oh-eh oh”. Trust me, I struggled with this part.
- 창문들 – windows
- 개일 화장실 – personal bathroom
- 냉장고 – fridge
- 가스 – gas
- 주방 – kitchen
Fun Fact: Many Korean apartments and buildings only provide a washer for your clothes. Koreans use drying racks to air their clothes (takes approximately 1 day). The dorms spoil you with washers and dryers, but once you move out, invest in a drying rack at Daiso for $5.This minimizes electricity costs and is better for the environment. We love Green Korea!
To not make this post too long, I was very lucky to have some connections here because I got help from someone with a car and the moving process went very seamlessly. If you don’t have a friend with a car, you can also order a taxi to help move you to your new destination too. (The whole process took under an hour)
Now that I got all settled in, it was time to make things official at my immigration office. As a foreigner with a student visa, you have to report your change of address within 14 days of moving to a new place to still be considered a legal foreigner here.
Tip: Try scheduling this appointment WAY in advanced (1-2 months before) because slots fill up quickly around the months of new students moving in and the new semester starting. I also heard that you can do this process online, but I wanted it to go a lot quicker so I went in-person.
What You Need to Change Your Address: * forms are shown in the order that they are listed*
- Application Form – If you already applied for your ARC, it is the same form as that one. Just put a mark next to “Alteration of Residence”. (By the way, you don’t need to include a photo for this form)
- Confirmation of Residence Form – This needed to be filled out and signed by both yourself and the owner of the building that you are living in (for Airbnbs, the host has to sign)
- Certified Copy of Register and Rental Agreement (부동산임대약정서) – In my case, the Airbnb wasn’t owned by the host, but by a different owner so I had to ask for the contract between them as well as a copy of the host’s ID card. If you have a direct contract with the owner (i.e. your name is on the contract with them), then make a copy of this housing/rental contract and their ID card to include in your application
- Passport – to check your identity
- Alien Registration Card – They will take this to change your residence address on the back. The process takes under 10 minutes.
- *Airbnb Specific* Airbnb Entry/Exit Dates with the new address – Print out the receipts from your Airbnb booking with this information (check in and out dates).
Tip: If you go the Airbnb route, ask your host in advanced (preferably before check-in) if they can help you with filling out housing forms for immigration. My host was super understanding and provided all of the information that I asked for. If they don’t give you the information and forms that you need for this residence-changing process or are acting sketchy, find a different Airbnb quickly because that place is probably running illegally.
Overall, living off-campus for the first time in a foreign country (or in my life) has been very eye-opening. The myth that living alone makes you want to shop more is true! I have gone to Daiso way more times than it is natural. Adding plants or flowers does give the space more life too!
One difference from dorm-living is that, at the dorms, you throw out food waste in the kitchen trash and everything else is dumped outside in a bin. Living alone, things are a bit different in terms of garbage and recycling. Similar to the situation that I faced in quarantine with separating plastic bottles, food waste, and general waste, it is happening again. It isn’t so bad, but it is definitely a minor adjustment on my part. I found out this website about the different types of bags used and thought it would helpful to link. https://hanyangsummer.com/blog/garbage-guide-in-korea/
But Faith, where can we buy these though?
You’re in luck because I went on a hunt for them once I ran out!
- Recycling Bags (재활용 쓰레기 봉투) – Can be found at Daiso for 1,000won for a set of 20 bags (look in the trash can section and they are there); also called Multi Vinyl bags (대형 비닐봉투)
- Food Waste Bags (음식물 쓰레기 봉투) – Found at GS25s mostly; around 2-3,000won for a set of 10 (You just go up to the front counter and ask for them)
- General Waste Bags (일반 쓰레기 봉투) – Found at GS25s or some local food marts for around 2,000won for 10 bags; make sure they are for your specific district!!
Once you figure out which places around you sell which bags, you are set for life.
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