Walking into a budongsan /부동산 (real estate agency) in Korea can be an intimidating experience. I remember my first time house hunting near Sadang and then in Itaewon, and it wasn’t pretty. I was a nervous wreck, paranoid that I would be lied to or tricked or manipulated into signing a lease I wasn’t comfortable with. Furthermore, I was worried about the language barrier and having a major miscommunication problem. Images of horrendous houses—sweltering in summer, icy in winter, no washing machine, cockroaches infesting my bed, no bed!—flashed through my brain the entire time. Thankfully, my nightmares did not become a reality and although house hunting isn’t my favorite thing to do, it certainly wasn’t as nerve-racking as I thought it would be. With that said, you do need your wits about you when you’re browsing neighborhoods for houses. Picking a home is no time to be a push-over, although you may want to make compromises in the end.
To make house shopping easier, the Korean government has designated certain realtors as reputable. The designation means that the realtors don’t work with landlords who have bad credit. It also means they are a registered budongsan with the municipal government, and in the past they haven’t treated customers badly. Most importantly, you don’t want to be working with people you can’t trust and you want to get a suitable lodging. Check this list of Designated Budongsans in Korea.
Contracts can be tricky to follow, even in your own language. If you work with an English realtor, the contract should be prepared in both English and Korean. Check out this wolse sample contract and this sale sample contract (note the important parts highlighted). You want to make sure you understand how much you are paying and what is expected of you as a tenant.
à See the article on Types of Housing Contracts in Korea.
Finally, there is so much to remember and as I mentioned, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Regard these tips before heading out and for the most part, it should go smoothly.
PHOTO CREDIT: Gaekjiya
Lindsey lived and worked in Seoul, South Korea for over 5 years. While there, she dabbled in different areas of work and explored the culture. She spent time teaching elementary students, business English to adults and high school students about college preparation. She also studied Korean, wrote blogs and tasted as many foods as she possibly could including fermented skate fish. Over the years, Lindsey developed a love for Korea and the culture. She is keen to share her knowledge of Korea with others and she will always consider Korea a second home.