Although I am confident in my Korean language abilities, I was unable to find an apartment in Seoul without the help of an English realtor who specializes in finding housing for foreigners. Here is a list of some amazing realtors in Seoul who are tackling housing discrimination.
The Need for English Realtors: Personal Experience
I speak Korea every day at work and in my daily life. I didn’t think that finding a realtor would be too difficult because I don’t have to worry about a language barrier. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The Decision to Find Housing on My Own
This was my fourth time moving within Korea. During previous moves, I always had a Korean friend accompanying me. However, during my last move a few years prior, my landlord decided to exclusively communicate with my friend instead of me.
Every time there was a noise complaint or trash that wasn’t sorted correctly, even if I wasn’t home at the time, the landlord placed the blame on me. She would contact my friend and complain to her. My landlord and my friend got in a huge fight, which put me in an awkward situation. In the end, my landlord began communicating with me. By the time I moved we were on good terms. Regardless, I wanted to avoid anything similar from happening again. And so, I set off on my own to find a realtor.
Using Korean Realtors
I did what most people in Korea would do and downloaded jjikbang and dabang. There I found a lot of homes I was interested in and contacted realtors to go view them. The first place I went to called the owner to come let us in once we were in front of the building. When the owner arrived and saw me, he told the realtor that he had a negative past experience with a foreign tenant and wasn’t willing to rent to a foreigner. I had similar experiences six times. Then, I went to a realtor directly.
When I went to normal Korean realtors I was actually shown homes. However, it was obvious that I wasn’t being shown homes that were at the same price and quality as Korean customers. Every single home I was shown was either above a club or in a basement. I spent every weekend looking for three months.
Finally, I gave up on Korean realtors and decided to give a foreign realtor a try. In the same neighborhood where I had been shown expensive basement and club apartments for months, she showed me three amazing places on the first day. All three were on quiet streets, were about double the size, and were cheaper than even the best apartment a Korean realtor had shown me.
This was my experience as a North American white woman who speaks Korean. It can undeniably get much worse. And so, even if you are completely comfortable searching for a home in Korean, I would highly recommend going to an English realtor who specializes in finding housing for foreigners.
English Realtors in Hongdae: Mapo and Seodaemun
This is the real estate office that I used to find my current apartment. At the time of writing this article, they are redoing their website is down for rebranding, however, they are still open. From what I remember, they offer services in Korean, English, Chinese, Russian, and Japanese.
Although my native language is English, I have never had to find housing in my home country. And so, I felt more comfortable communicating in Korean on this particular topic and they did accommodate that. I didn’t get charged any extra for language services, however, I didn’t use them, so I am unsure if there would be an extra charge. However, I did find the price of the homes they showed me and the real-estate office fees to be extremely fair.
In the end, they found me my dream studio apartment! It’s less than a 5-minute walk from my work in an extremely quiet neighborhood. I have a veranda!! And, it was all well within my budget which honestly shocked me. In total, I worked with three of their agents. They were really nice and explained everything thoroughly.
Sichon Nalgae Real Estate (신촌 날개 공인중개사사무소) Address: Seoul, Mapo-gu, sinchonro20Gil 34, Korean Address: 서울 마포구 신촌로20길 34 1층 Operating Hours: 10:00 AM - 07:00 PM Phone Number:0507-1307-2246 Website: http://www.naltong.com/
English Realtors in Itaewon: Yongsan-Gu
A few of my friends have found housing near Noksapyeong and Itaewon through this realtor. The majority of their listings are in older buildings. However, they are much larger than the average Seoul apartments found at the same price point.
Eden Realty (에덴공인중개사사무소소) Address: 5-84 Yongsan 2(i)ga-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul Korean Address: 서울 용산구 신흥로 9-1 1층 Operating Hours: 09:00 AM - 06:00 PM Phone Number: 02-793-4774 Website: http://www.edenrealty.co.kr/
English Realtors in Gangnam
This real estate agency has English-speaking realtors. The main area they focus on is Gangnam. However, they also have properties listed around several universities including; Kyunghee, Korea, and Hanyang.
Their business is mostly online and they will meet you in the neighborhood where you are looking for an apartment at a time that is convenient for you. Most of their listings are a bit higher than average but, it looks like moth of them are in newer buildings and the rooms are in good condition.
Ivy House Website: http://www.ivyhouse.kr/room.html Phone Number: 010-5953-1313 Kakao: dream2255 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
English Realtors in Gyeonggi and Seoul
This realty office offers services in English, Japanese, and Chinese. They have homes available all over Seoul and throughout Gyeonggi province. Out of all the foreign realty offices, they have the best platform for listings. It is comparable to Jjikbang and Dabang, but they only show their company’s listings. From looking at their site, the prices seem very standard.
JK Global Realty Housing Search Website: http://realtorkorea.com/map Company Website:https://jk-realty.com/ Phone Number: +82-2-393-8487 Email: email@example.com
Appartments in Seoul with No Deposit
In Korea, it is standard to pay at least a 5,000,000 Won deposit and sign a one to a two-year contract when renting even a small studio apartment. The exception is Goshiwons. Goshiwons normally have no deposit and rent for as low as 200,000 won per month. Plus, you can rent them by the month or even by the day.
If you are traveling to Korea solo and are on a budget, or are a student looking for somewhere to stay during your break, this is a fantastic option. Additionally, most places have free ramen, kimchi, and rice, which further reduces your costs. Normally they are extremely small and have shared facilities, but if you are spending your days exploring and just need a place to sleep, it’s not too bad.
Although it is a bit of a shame that foreigners sometimes have trouble accessing the same services as Koreans even when language is no longer an issue, I was happy to find so many services being offered to foreigners while researching this article. In this article, I focused on some of the areas in Seoul with a large number of foreign residents.
If you are facing difficulty finding housing don’t give up! There are a lot of realtors out there who know how serious the housing discrimination issue is. And, there are more and more Koreans with generous hearts entering realty to solve the issue. Fighting!