2021 Guide to Housing in Korea



Type of rent

Finding a room

Contract Signing

After Contract

Useful tips for living


What if you could not get a place in a dorm? Or what if you would like to live alone, even though you got into a dorm? It’s time to go find a room. So, when is the best time to find a room in Korea?

The real estate market moves at hectic speeds in Korea so there is no need to secure a room before arrival. Do not worry even if you do not have a place to stay when you arrive in Korea. You can even move in on the same day the contract is signed! However, if you are worried, we recommend that you start looking for a room 2-3 weeks before arriving.

Korea might be totally new to you, but with this guide, you can have a head start. This guide will cover the important points in moving to and living in Korea from top to bottom.

Type of rent

When renting a room in Korea, there are two typical ways of paying your rent: monthly rent and Jeonse. You may be unfamiliar with the term Jeonse. Jeonse is a real estate jargon unique to South Korea that refers to the way apartments are leased.

Monthly Rent
(Monthly payment + Deposit)

(Deposit only)

-Pay deposit to the landlord before moving in
-Pay monthly rent on a specified date each month.
-The deposit can be decreased by increasing the monthly payment.

-Pay a large sum of deposit instead of paying monthly rent
-The deposit is returned to the tenant at the end of the contract
-Only pay maintenance fee and utility expenses
-Usually unfurnished

For foreigners who prefer short-term contracts or have a low budget, monthly rent is the best option.

What if you found a room you really like, but your budget cannot cover the rent for the room? Usually, monthly payments and deposits are negotiable.
As mentioned in the table above, a deposit can be decreased if monthly rent is increased. How is this possible? Simply, raising the deposit by 1,000,000KRW is equivalent to reducing monthly rent by 10,000KRW. This is possible because a landlord can collect interest from the money deposited in the bank instead. In this way, you are able to negotiate the rent for the room.

Deposit 5,000,000KRW, monthly rent 400,000KRW
→ Deposit 10,000,000KRW, monthly rent 350,000KRW
When deposit is increased to 10,000,000KRW, monthly payment is reduced.
However, landlords tend not to prefer raising the deposit as the bank interest rates are very low these days. It all depends on landlords’ preferences.

Finding a Room

It is possible to find a room by yourself. However, the easiest and most convenient way is using a real estate agency. It is absolutely the best way to find your room in Korea.
However, if you go to realtors who cannot speak English, you might be frustrated from the beginning. However, Ziptoss is always ready to provide services in English to satisfy its clients.

1) Real Estate Brokerage and Dealing Directly

The first method, real estate brokerage, happens by making contract with a real estate agent. Most real estate agents take out guaranty insurance and have expert knowledge in Korean real estate. As such, they can guarantee the safety of the real estate transaction for their customers. However, customers are required to pay a service fee to brokers.
The second method involves dealing directly with landlords/ladies or tenants who want to move out before their lease contract ends. By doing so, you can save the real estate service fee. However, the safety of the transaction is not guaranteed. If you want to make a direct deal, you should be very careful because there are many real estate fraud cases especially involving foreigners. Therefore, you should check the ownership of the building (the name of the owner and the name of the person who makes contract with you should be the same) and state of legal rights to the building thoroughly.
Unless you have enough time to go around browsing homes, an agent might be able to identify and match you with a perfect property much faster.

2) Where to live

The location of the room is also an important aspect when you go looking for a room. You have to consider the distance to your school/work, atmosphere, public transportation and safety.

3) Setting Your Budget

There are a bunch of properties available in a wide range of prices. To save time, setting a budget for your room is important to narrow down the listings to peruse. Prior to setting your budget, you have to check the market price of the area you are interested in.
It differs from area to area. ‘Ziptoss’ provides details on properties, so you can conveniently find the information you need on our website or app. Once you set the budget, you are ready to find the perfect room for you.
Now that you have a general idea of where you want to live, how much you can afford and how you will find a room, it is time to go room shopping!

Contract signing

So, how do we make a contract?
If you use a real estate agency, there is nothing you need to take care of. However, if you are trying to find a room by yourself, there are some important points you have to keep in mind.

1) Transferring down payment

When you make a contract, down payment is needed to reserve the room. Before sending the down payment to a landlord, you must check that the name of the account holder matches up with the name of the landlord. You can verify this through the certified copy of the register (등기부등본).

2) Checking certified copy of the register

A certified copy of the register shows information on a house/building. You can find out information on the owner of the house and whether there is any outstanding mortgage on the house stated in the document.
Let’s look at how to check a certified copy of the register. It consists of 3 main sections: Pyojebu, Gapgu, and Eulgu.
Let’s look at Pyojebu first.

[Building] 6-1, Majo-ro 14-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea (네이버 영문주소 변환기)

표제부 (건물의 표시): Section for describing the property(building)



Location and address of the building


Cause of registration and ETC



[Road name address]

6-1, Majo-ro 14-gil, Seongdong-gu, Seoul, Republic of Korea

Brick walls with slab roof, 2 story residential building.

1st floor 85.95㎡

2nd floor 60.66㎡

Basement 7.17㎡

Road name address


Registered in 2012/07/11

As you can see, it shows the basic information on a building such as its location, address, size, and structure. In this section, you have to check whether the address of the room you visited and the address on the certified copy of the register are the same.
Next, ‘Gapgu’ tells you who owns the building.

[Gap Section] (Matters regarding Ownership)


Purpose of registration

Registration date

Cause of registration

Right holder(Owner) and ETC


Transfer of Ownership




Owner: 이경성

550402-******** (Social security number)

Sales listing: 제 2016-1417호

The owner of the building and the person you are making the contract with have to match, so just make sure to check the ID card of the landlord before signing a contract.
Now, here is the most important part. This part contains any mortgage information on the building, so you have to check it thoroughly. If a loan does not exist, this section is left blank.

[Eul Section] (Matters regarding mortgage on the property)


Purpose of registration

Registration date

Cause of registration

Right holder(Owner) and ETC


Establishment of the right to collateral security



Contract to establish the right to collateral security

Maximum debt: 462,000,000

Debtor: 이경성

Mortgage Holder(근저당권자) : ~

Joint security(공동담보): ~

3)Term of Contract

For monthly rent, a 24-month contract is the norm in Korea. However, in university districts or studio apartment-heavy areas where most students desire contracts on a yearly basis, a 12-month contract is possible (Mostly in Kwanak, Gangnam, Mapo, Suyu)
Usually, landlords prefer long-term contracts as they do not want to pay real estate service fees too often. Furthermore, they lose money by having empty rooms from short contract periods. Therefore, it is not easy to find a room that can be rented for only a few months. That is why rooms available for short-term are more expensive than rooms for year-long rentals.

After contract

What is next? There is one more step left. After you sign a contract, there are two scenarios.
   1) Already have an ARC(Alien Registration Card)
You should notify the community service located near your new address within 14 days (unless you notify your moving-in within 14 days, you will be fined), following which you can get a stamp stating the definite date on your contract paper. Just visit a community service center with your contract paper and ARC to fill out the form.
   2) Do not have an ARC yet
You do not need to bring a completed contract (this is done when you move in) when you go through the airport immigration. Just tell them the address of your place in Korea. You can complete the address registration for foreigners with the finished contract in hand after moving in. Bring your contract and passport to the Korean immigration office and they will do all the paperwork for you.
Once you are done with this process, your deposit is protected by the ‘HOUSING LEASE PROTECTION ACT’. This might not be familiar to you. If a building is put up for auction, you have the right to preferential payment that can be repaid, up to a maximum of 3,7000,000 won for buildings located in Seoul (the amount varies for different provinces and cities).

Useful Tips for Living

Waste Disposal

Korea has strict regulations regarding waste disposal and recycling. All garbage must be disposed of properly. If you get caught not doing so, you will be fined. The fine is 100,000KRW!
The following is information on proper ways to dispose of waste and recyclable materials.

General waste- General Trash Bags (일반 쓰레기 봉투)

•Bags can be purchased at convenience stores and supermarkets (comes in 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100L)
•Dispose of trash bags in designated locations
•Bags are district specific - buy bags for your district
•Some shops provide general waste bags as grocery bags. It costs around 250 won. Not all bags you receive from shops can be used as trash bags.

▶General Waste Bag

Food Waste -Food Waste Bags (음식물 쓰레기 봉투)

•Food waste bags can be purchased at convenience stores and supermarkets (Sizes 2 and 3 are suitable for 1 - 2 persons)
•Dispose of food waste bags in designated locations or in food waste bins.
•Some areas use large containers for food waste collection. Simply empty your food waste into this container.
•Do not include waste that cannot be consumed by livestock such as fruit seeds, nutshells, eggshells, bones, etc.

▶Food Waste Bag ▶Food Waste Bin Tips for purchasing waste bags! Ask the staff directly to purchase waste bags


•Wash containers before disposal
•Place your recyclable trash in designated locations contained in any plastic bag on the same day as general trash pickup
•Some areas have separate containers labeled accordingly for plastic, metal, glass, vinyl, paper, etc.

▶Recycling Container

Large item disposal

•Visit your community center or its website to purchase a label. The fee can range from KRW 2,000 to KRW 15,000 depending on the size and type of the item to be disposed of
•Attach the appropriate label on the item to be disposed of
•Place the item street side on the appropriate pickup date

▶Recycling Container

2) Utility Expense payment

(Gas, Electricity, Water - differs depending on a contract)

•The bills will be delivered to your house every month.
•Check the due date and charged amount e.g.) 2020.12.25 (25th December 2020)
•Visit a bank to proceed with the payment within the due date for your bills. (Bank tellers will help you make the payment)

▶Gas bill ▶Electricity bill

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