A Detailed Guide In Finding An Apartment In Seoul


December, January, and February are eventful in South Korea. The end of the Korean college entrance examinations, the issuance of new admission notices, end of autumn recruitments, etc. It’s also the peak season for the rental market in South Korea. Old tenants move out, and new tenants will be looking for Seoul apartments to live in.

In this post, we’ll be diving deeper into looking for an apartment in Seoul.

There is a large demand for renting, housing, and an active market. The chances of finding apartments in Seoul for students have been increasing over time, but the probability of missing a promising place to live in is also high. So how do we find an apartment quickly and accurately? It’s not easy to find a suitable house. Price range, room type, location, furniture, environment, and even the landlord’s attitude can be a factor in finding a new place to live in.

Knowledge of rental process and procedures, as well as having the proper communication is important in the South Korean rental market. We’ve gathered recent rental questions, answers, and related examples to help everyone understand the Korean rental market and process on how to find apartments in Seoul, South Korea efficiently and safely.

  1. What kind of house are you looking for?

The most important thing in finding a house is to have a basis on what type of apartment you are looking for:

 -Affordable security deposit, monthly rent, if separate amenities(bathroom, kitchen, etc.) are needed; 

-Layout of the space: studio-type room, two-room, three-room, officetel, or for overnight stay.

-Geographical location: traffic around the area, the distance between the unit and facilities(shopping mall, gym, workplace, etc.), hillside/flat ground.

Among them, the criteria for judging the room price are size, facilities (floor heating, washing machine, gas stove, refrigerator, etc.), “new and old” distinction, underground/semi-underground/tower room, floor, etc.

Geographical location is also an important factor. Areas such as Hongdae and Gangnam are slightly higher than other areas, but some neighborhoods in some popular areas will also have some cheap housing.

Note from Ziptoss: No matter when and where, finding a house is a time-consuming and laborious task, finding a house that is 100% suitable for you will be very difficult. Therefore, compromising is needed in some aspects. It’s better to make a list of the most important factors and factors that can be compromised to make it easier for you to find the most suitable house for your lifestyle.

  1. When can I start looking for a house?

In South Korea, house hunting is generally started 1 month in advance, preferably around 2-3 weeks. If it’s too early, the landlord might be unwilling to bear the loss of vacancy and unwilling to sign; It might be too late, and the apartment you like could be given to someone else. Also, even if it is a unit where the existing person lives but the lease term ends after 2-3 months, the rental housing information can only be released one month before the end of the contract.

If you need any help in this situation, you can contact the Ziptoss real estate agent one month in advance, and it would be more appropriate to sign a contract 1-2 weeks in advance.

  1. Can I sign in advance? I see a house I like, but I can only move into Korea after one or two months. What should I do?

If you particularly like an apartment, you can sign a contract right away, but during this period of vacancy, the rent will be paid as you sign the contract. 

For example, if Xiao Wang arrived in South Korea on January 15, 2020, but signed a rental contract that began on December 1, 2019, although Xiao Wang did not live in the apartment, he would still have to pay for the housing from December 1, 2019, since he already signed the contract.

  1. Can I find a shared rent?

Unlike domestic platforms like WeLive and Zillow, Korean real estate does not directly introduce shared housing to tenants. You can find friends and share a room with them, and consult with Ziptoss.

However, in Seoul, there is a variety of studio-type apartment listings. The availability of a one bedroom with two living rooms, and one bedroom with three living rooms varies according to which region you’re in. It is recommended to consult with Ziptoss real estate agents directly to know which area is suited for you.

  1. Residences next to the school/company.

Korean urban planning prefers to separate residential areas, schools, commercial areas, office areas, etc. according to their functions.

For example, Jiangnan is dominated by office and business districts, Hongdae is dominated by cultural and commercial spaces, and Ewha University is a school district and cultural and commercial district.

Although these spaces are not completely isolated, the supporting facilities will be related to the area’s main function/s. Due to the terrain of South Korea, there may be a distance between each functional area. Residential areas are generally scattered or around these functional areas, housing and housing prices might not be the same, and housing near schools/companies/subway stations will cost more.

A 30-minute walk from the facilities is more appropriate. Therefore, compare the distance and price by yourself. The nearer, the more it would cost, the farther your place is, the cheaper.

  1. Want to see the house or photos/videos immediately.

If you see an apartment that is suitable for you, you can look at the photos immediately. As for the immediate viewing of a house or video, it is not always necessary. because, After receiving the contact, customer service will generate a service order and assign a broker. The broker may have other tasks to do. After receiving your service order, they will coordinate the matter as soon as possible, and list the apartment according to the rental conditions you provide.

Finding a room is not a simple matter, rent, security deposit, price range, location, room size, facilities, whether pets can be kept, if it’s vacant, if the rent or security deposit can be adjusted, etc., must be confirmed one by one. This will take some time. To help you find a good house, Ziptoss will help you get answers to these questions.

  1. House without margin.

Generally, there is no deposit for examination institutes, shared houses, etc. But one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and other houses require a certain security deposit.

On average, the ONE ROOM in Seoul is about 510,000 won (about 460 USD), and the deposit is 5 million won (about 4500 USD); The TWO/THREE ROOM is about 640,000 won (about 570 USD), and the security deposit is 10 million won (about 8950 USD). It is normal for the price to slightly increase. If it is too low, the house may have certain problems.

Margin: when signing the contract, the homeowner might ask to deposit a large amount. At the end of the contract, the money will be returned to the tenant. If you want to lower the security deposit, you need to increase the rent.

  1. Water grid gas fee/parking/pets.

 For some rooms, factors such as utility bills are already included, some are partial, and some are all at their own expense. The situation is different for each apartment. Specific consultation is also required for parking and whether they’re pet friendly apartments in South Korea. Some pets are not allowed, some can only keep cats, some can have dogs but have requirements on the size of the dog, and there are also concerns about pets scratching the wallpaper and the homeowner might ask for a wallpaper fee. These terms are what you have to consider if it’s important, whether you can accept or adjust them.

  1. Complete set of furniture

Generally, one-bedroom, two-bedroom, and other apartment types will have big appliances like washing machines, refrigerators, induction cookers/gas stoves, range hoods, and other electronic furniture. As for the beds, wardrobes, chairs, etc., the furniture of each room is different, so it needs to be analyzed in detail. If it isn’t provided, you’ll need to buy it yourself, or ask the landlord if there is one left by the previous tenant that you can borrow from them (but the probability is quite small).

Finding a house with suitable geography, structure, and price is a high priority. The interior furniture and decorative lights can be solved after this. Depending on your own needs, it has to be necessary and make sure it would fit well in your apartment.

  1. When should I pay which fee?

When signing a contract, you have to pay the contract deposit and service fee. Before moving in (before the effective day of the contract), you’ll have to pay the security deposit and the first month’s rent, and the contract deposit can offset the corresponding amount. For example, the deposit is 5 million won and the rent is 600,000 won, for a total of 5.6 million won. 500,000 won has been paid to the landlord when signing the contract, so now you only need to pay 5.1 million won to the landlord.

Note: If you break the contract, the contract deposit and down payment will not be refunded; If the landlord breaks the contract, the landlord will compensate you twice the contract deposit.

  1. What happened to many cases of margin fraud?

Here are some common cases:

  1. The tenant directly signed the contract with the landlord without confirming the real identity of the landlord. The actual contractor is the second landlord or a caretaker. Such a contract is invalid, resulting in no house to live in and money being taken away. The contract must be handled by the landlord or homeowner themselves.
  1. When signing a contract, and if the additional matters (such as interior issues, whether the utility bills are all-inclusive, etc.) are not clearly stated, then the landlord will have to deduct the security deposit to compromise with the tenant.
  1. In the case of a fully paid rent, if the debt of the house is not confirmed or the house is auctioned during the period of a tenant’s stay, only part of the compensation can be obtained according to the “Housing Lease Protection Act“.
  1. One month before the end of the lease term, if the landlord is not notified that the contract will not be renewed according to the implied update, the rental contract will be renewed automatically with the same conditions. The landlord can refuse to return the security deposit since he doesn’t know that you were moving out and is not prepared to find someone to rent at the time. The only resolution for this is to negotiate with the landlord on how to check out. It’s better to find formal and reliable real estate with good systems and rules that you can follow.

When looking for a house and signing a contract, it is very important that the agent can fairly and inform the contracting parties (the landlord and the tenant) of the terms and additional instructions. Coupled with your rational thinking and judgment, try to avoid situations where you might experience these and clarify all your concerns as much as possible.

  1. How to identify a real estate agency?

Regular real estate agencies will have a certification issued by the Korea Real Estate Association. The agency needs to have a certificate from the Korea Brokers Association. The sign of “100 million won” or “200 million won” is posted on the facade, which shows that the agency has mortgaged funds with the Korea Real Estate Association since the establishment of a legal real estate intermediary must have a deposit in the association to ensure the safety of Party A and Party B’s property, according to the law in South Korea.

  1. What is special about Ziptoss?

Anyone who has searched for a house in South Korea should have heard of apps like X방(Dabang). When you see a nice apartment and try to call them,  they might just say that the apartment is sold to another tenant and might suggest other rooms for you.

When finding a house online, try to set an appointment to check it right away especially if you’re leaning into choosing one that you think meets your criteria.

ZIPTOSS is South Korea’s first directly-operated real estate company, with 13 directly operated stores under its wing, covering over 50,000 listings. Some branches of ZIPTOSS introduce the listings on the official website and the mobile app corresponds to the real listings. From its address, price, area, facilities, floors, etc., each housing information is confirmed with the owner before publishing, the photos are also taken in kind, and some also have 360-degree panoramic photos, which are taken by Ziptoss photographers.

Besides, Ziptoss has a housing “discovery” department. They go around Seoul to find potential listings, record information, submit it to the housing information center, and publish each one on the Ziptoss official website. The scope of understanding of the community is limited, and it is more inclined to familiar properties so that tenants also need to visit a few more by themselves. However, Ziptoss has the housing information of the entire community, which saves time by comparing it one by one.