What It Really Costs To Live In Seoul, Korea (Part 1: Rent)

When I moved to Seoul, Korea over six years ago, I was pretty naive and knew little about the rental market. I found a realtor on Craigslist and was basically like “I’ll take whatever you’ve got.” I literally took the first apartment that was shown to me and therefore extremely overpaid the landlord for one whole year. I paid roughly around $600 a month for a 215 square feet studio.

Fast forward to now, I’m paying about $800 per month ($400 in reality since I have a roommate) for my new two bedroom apartment (462 sqft.) in central Seoul. Most of my expat friends and colleagues roughly pay around $400-$800 for their studio or loft-style apartment.

As for my Korean friends, most don’t pay a monthly rent to their landlord, but they do pay the bank interest on their Jeonse loan. Basically, under the Jeonse system, the tenant pays a huge deposit of money to the landlord. After this immense sum of money is paid to the landlord, no further monthly rent is required. My close friend said that the bank charges him around 3% interest on a $231,000 loan, which means he’s paying about $575 a month for his apartment. My other friend paid his landlord $75,000 directly for his small studio. After they complete their contract, the landlord will return the deposit to them.

Here are some great Youtube videos to give you a better idea of how much the price of an apartment is in Seoul.

1. Studio apartment – $500

2. Studio apartment – $600

3. One-bedroom apartment – $1400

4. Two-bedroom apartment – $0 ($240,000 deposit)


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