Destinations

Life in a Goshiwon: Korea’s Cheapest Housing Option

If you are planning to come to Korea on a budget, the cheapest housing option you can find is a Goshiwon. With rooms available by the day or by the month with no deposit fee, they are one of the best options for single travelers or students. But, what is living in these tiny rooms really like? Is it worth the money you’ll save?

Introduction

After 2 years of the pandemic,  Korea has already lifted nearly all its restrictions. No more curfews, QR codes, or masks outdoors. Slowly, Korea is opening its borders not only to long-term residents but also to tourists from various countries. As a result, many are making plans to come here in order to further their education, travel, or work.

When relocating to another country, maybe the most important thing is finding the right accommodation. Some people prefer to rent spacious hotel rooms when they come here, others prefer to save money on accommodation so that they can spend more on experiences. In this article, l am going to talk about Goshiwons, Korea’s most budget-friendly accommodation.

What is a Goshiwon?

You may have come across discussions of Korea’s infamously tiny apartments, the tiniest of Korea’s small apartments is a Goshiwon. But exactly is what is a Goshiwon? And, why would anyone want to stay in one?

Goshiwons are around 3.5 square meters (37 square feet) on average. This is about the size of an average American bathroom. They are normally equipt with a small bed, a wardrobe, a desk, and a chair. Typically, the wardrobe is quite small and storage space is limited. Sometimes they have a narrow window and a TV. More often than not, kitchens and bathrooms are shared. However, for a little extra you can get one with a private bathroom.

Location: many goshiwons are located close to universities. Areas with a lot of Goshiwons include neighborhoods surrounding Korea University, Hanyang University, Seoul National University, etc. 

Standard Facilities: wifi, internet cable, shared kitchen(microwave, stove, water purifier, fridge, rice cooker), shared bathroom and showers, laundry room, and free food (rice, kimchi, and ramen).

Price: 250,000~500,000 won per month depending on the facilities. No deposit. No utility fees.

Source: CHAESIA

I also asked some of my friends about their daily life living in a goshiwon in Seoul and l want to share their experiences with you.

Is it worth living in a goshiwon?

Mary (27)

I’ve been living in a goshiwon close to Hanyang University in Seoul for about 6 months now. I need to pay 300,000 won monthly, but l am glad l have my own bathroom. The room is not that big, but as a very introverted person l am super happy that l have my own space. No one bothers me when I’m trying to sleep or work on my projects. I have my own space, and I love it. As long as it’s clean and quiet, I cannot ask for more.

John (29)

I moved to a goshiwon about one year ago, after l had lived in my university dormitory for one semester. Almost everything l need is in my room, but sometimes it gets lonely. I even miss my roommate from university. Why did l move? Because of work. I had to find something closer to the company I’ve been working for. I have enough space, but l don’t have time to clean my room all the time or cook in the shared kitchen. Sometimes it gets messy. Sometimes it gets boring. But, that’s it I guess.

Kizzy (25)

I first moved to Seoul when I was 18 years old and I lived in a Goshiwon for a little over a year. When I first moved in, I opted for a room with a private bathroom but there was no window. I don’t recommend that option! Your own bathroom, but no window means that the smell has nowhere to go. And, with no window at all, I couldn’t tell if it was day or night and it began affecting me mentally. I moved to a room with a shared bathroom and a window, and my mood improved a lot. Overall, living in a Goshiwon as a student and someone who was new to Korea wasn’t so bad. It was just a place to sleep, which was all I needed.

Pros and cons 

Pros

  1. You get your own private room(and possibly a bathroom) for a very low price, without needing to pay a deposit or utility fees. You can choose to pay by the day, or the month depending on your budget.
  1. Most of the goshiwons are located close to universities and subway stations. 
  1. You will get free wifi, access to facilities, and basic food.
  1. No need to stress about curfew hours. You can leave and come back whenever you want to, unlike most dorms.

Cons

  1. The room is usually quite small compared to 1 room apartments 
  1. Your room may not have a window or private shower/bathroom. 
  1. You cannot bring your friends or other people to your goshiwon. 

4. Sometimes, it can get a bit noisy, especially if you choose to live in areas like Hongdae or Sinchon.

So, what do you think? Is it worth living in a goshiwon in Korea? Have you ever had the chance to live in a goshiwon? Personally, I think it’s maybe the best budget-friendly solution when comes to accommodation. Let us know about your experience. We are looking forward to hearing your story.

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If you are looking for housing in Seoul, Click Here to read about foreigner-friendly realtors in Seoul.

🇷🇴 Emilia Bucsan

Teacher. Writer. Explorer. A.R.M.Y. Enchanted by the beauty of Korea.