How does housing system work in Korea?

For people who want to move to major cities in South Korea, looking for a place to live is not so easy. Based on the size of the country, it definitely could use more space. Unfortunately, the population is growing, but the land doesn’t grow proportionally. As expected, there are limited choices of places to live when you are just starting out in Korea, especially in Seoul.

For those of you who are curious about housing market in Korea, hopefully this could help you understand what your options are. There are mainly three options for renting when you look for housing in big cities in Korea: Gosiwon/Gositel(고시원/고시텔), Wolse(월세), and Jeonse(전세).



For Gosiwon and Wolse, you would need to pay monthly rent. The difference between Gosiwon and Wolse is key money and the contract period. For Gosiwon, you won’t need long contracts like Wolse nor a large sum of key money.

As convenient as it is to live in Gosiwon, Gosiwon is normally a place for students to focus on studying. The rooms are extremely small. Some are clean and even furnished. But, you have to make sure to go in person. Even though the size may seem a little suffocating, it might be the best option if you are staying for a short term.


Shared kitchen area in Gosiwon/Gositel

As for Wolse, you would need a large sum of key money. The range of key money varies depending on the area and how far away you live from subway stations. Based on my research, it normally ranges from 30,000 to 50,000 USD unless you plan on living in a major area such as Gangnam.

How does housing system work in Korea?

Wolse – One Room (원룸)

At last, the way Jeonse works is little different. You would need to put down a large chunk of money in the beginning of the contract and you will get the money back at the end of the contract. In a way, you could look at it as your savings. The amount varies depending on the area of course. But, in Seoul, the average Jeonse would be about 300,000 USD. Now that you have a little understanding of how housing system works in Korea, it is probably the best to figure out how long you plan on living in Korea first and make your choice wisely.

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