This afternoon as I was looking up possible housing options online for next year, I started thinking about all the differences between Korean housing (houses, townhouses, apartments) and those back home in the states. Quite frankly, some of these differences are also unlike other places I’ve lived (China, Albania, Thailand, and Indonesia).
First off, the rental pricing structure and high costs would put most Americans off. The prices are quoted in yearly rental prices, and must be paid in one-year increments before you move in. My budget, allocated by my school, is 18 million Korean won per year (~14,600 USD). Many places I found online today were in the 24 – 60 million range (19,400 – 48,500 USD). I wonder if there are other, more affordable options to be found. Navigating the site in Korean was really tricky, so hopefully I can get a Korean friend to help me. In addition to paying a year’s rent up front, you also have to pay a hefty deposit in advance. The deposit is at least the yearly rent, but many of the rentals I saw online had larger deposits. For example, a place I liked was 30 million won a year plus a 48 million won deposit. That means you’d be paying 63,000 USD up front!
All Korean houses are unlocked by a keypad on the front door rather than a key. My door also talks to me in a British accent, which cracks up everyone who comes over. I love not having to carry keys, but it’s a pain when I come home and the batteries on my door have run out. It’s only happened twice, but it’s weird that there’s no warning that the battery is low before it runs out. The only way to get back in is to “jump” the battery with a 9-volt. I’ve taken to carrying one around in my car just in case.
One of the nicest things about Korean houses is the under floor heating in the winter. Under floor heating is a radiant kind of heat, much different than the heating systems that blow out hot air. The only thing that’s tough is trying to find the right temperature at night, as your bed can get too hot from the floor heating.
As you may know, it’s customary to remove your shoes in Asian homes, a tradition I fully embrace now. The entryway is lower than the rest of the floor in the house and tiled in a different material. There are also cupboards in the entryway to store our shoes away, which is really convenient.
The windows are versatile. They are double-glazed and open two different ways. You can open them completely (inward like a door opens) or just a crack them a little at an angle (from the top) to let the breeze in and keep the rain mostly out. There are screens on each window that can be pulled up or down. With the spring and fall weather being so perfect, I utilize the angled windows often.
Lastly, due to the smaller size of the houses/apartments, there are a few appliances that do double-duty and save space. We have washer/dryer combos, which you can find in some smaller places in other countries too. The microwave and oven are one machine, which always confuses me since I can put metal in the microwave; it feels so wrong to do that. I sure wish we had dishwashers, because I despise doing dishes, but the large, deep sink with a removable drying rack is a compromise (I guess!).
Is there anything unique about homes where you live?