Moving house is one of those things that Korea does extremely well. Housing contracts are usually between two to three years and residents generally lease homes rather than buy them, as buying a house is very expensive and mortgages are not commonly obtained. It is common for a Korean person to relocate multiple times during his/her lifetime, so companies have the whole process down to a science. Most moving companies will offer a variety of moving services to suit your needs.
In Korea, it is important to have good luck on the day of your move. For this reason, there are special days where there is no son-nim /선님 or evil guest. These are the ideal days for moving. The ‘son-nim’ is a spirit that causes harm and disruption. It flies up to heaven on the 9th, 10th, 20th, 29th and 30th of every month. These dates are based on the lunar calendar. These days are the busiest moving days and also the most expensive. It is important to call ahead and make a reservation especially if you need to move on a specific date.
Furthermore, it is recommended that you make a reservation for a consultation. Have the movers come to your house to give you a proper estimate. Get the quote in writing and if you’re satisfied, book your move date at that point. Prices vary from cheap (around 50,000KRW for a few items) to much more if you require them to pack, move and unpack a large full furnished apartment (easily upwards of 1 million won).
Each company is different and some offer multiple moving services, while smaller companies generally focus on simple jobs. You’ll need to call up and ask to get accurate information, but the following are your overall options for changing houses in Korea.
Standard Moving Services
The standard moving service is straightforward. Someone comes to your house with a big van, loads up your stuff-which is already packed and ready to go, drives it to your new house and unloads it-leaving everything piled in the middle of the living room. You aren’t required to load it up on the truck, but you are responsible for packing and unpacking.
Small companies (often just one guy) offer this service with bongo trucks. Bongo trucks are little trucks with a flatbed in the back. The mover piles as much as he can onto the back, ties it all on with some rope and lurches off to your new place. Bongo truck movers are the cheapest service and they can often be hired within a day or two of your planned moving date. You may even be able to ask a guy in your neighborhood who has a truck to help you out for a small fee. Search Naver - the Korean search engine - to find a bongo truck company in your neighborhood and keep in mind these companies can only speak Korean. You may need a Korean person to help you make moving arrangements.
Packing Moving Services
This service is the reason why Korean moving companies are so awesome. When I heard about it, I slowly repeated back to my Korean friend, “You mean someone comes to your house and packs EVERYTHING for you. You just stand around and watch them DO EVERYTHING?” The answer is “Yes”. In fact, you don’t even need to be there as long as the price and details of the move are negotiated in advance. They do everything for you including unpack it all on your new destination. This service is incredible but much more costly and requires a reservation sometimes far in advance.
à Fact: In Korean, the word eesa /이사 means ‘house moving’. It also breaks down into two numbers in Korean: number 2 ee /이 and number 4 sa /사. Phone numbers for moving companies will often contain 2 and 4, as in +82-2-1234-2424, which is clever and easy to remember!
Royal Relocation Services
The royal relocation services are slightly better than the packing services. They do everything for you: packing, moving, unpacking and CLEANING. They will clean your entire apartment from top to bottom as well. When you move into your new place it will be like a little museum; sparkling and shining with all of your things on display. It is even more expensive than the packing service, so consider the price before you get your heart set on using it.
It might be economical for you to store some things in Korea, especially if you’ve finished your work contract and would like to start a new contract a few months later. It’s a hassle to cart your stuff around the world, or sell it and then re-buy it when you return.
This is a type of moving service which will move your stuff into a storage facility and then relocate it to your new home for you when you come back. As long as your make arrangements in advance your new house can be ready for you the day you arrive back in Korea.
There are storage facilities available. They are a small space rented by size and month. Storage facilities are a bit pricey in Korea because space is hard to come by in a country with such a small land mass.
Gosiwon (a small room rented by businessmen and students as a means of temporary accommodations) are often used as storage spaces. They are usually between 300,000KRW and 500,000KRW per month. Gosiwon are comparable in price to storage spaces and can be used for living too. As well, gosiwon are easy to come by. It’s possible to find one and move your stuff in the same day.
à Check this out! Korean moving companies use a long lift that unfolds to reach the apartment window from the ground outside to move big, heavy items. The lift has a large platform to hold objects. It is then operated with controls that move the platform from the ground to the open window. The furniture is dragged into the house through the front window rather than carrying it into the building and up the small elevator. Watch this video to see it all in action!
The following companies offer moving services in English:
à Tips for Moving House!
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.