Seoul is a hub of the national economy. The majority of head and branch offices of banks, stock and insurance companies are all concentrated in Seoul, with the stock market in Yeouido often referred to as the Manhattan of Seoul. Seoul is a very expensive city to live in when compared to many other international cities. Foreigners have been the targets of inflated rental prices and scams. Be sure to watch out for these scams by Korean landlords, and if you can, get a trusted Korean friend to help you search for a place to live.
For the average person, Seoul, South Korea can be an expensive city on a daily basis. Rental payments are high. Housing costs are very high considering the quality and size of housing that is available, and for many, those properties are well out of reach.
If you already have a job, you are lucky. Many Koreans can't find a job in their own country. However, if you try to come to South Korea on your own and get your own housing, you may have difficulty. Apartments continue to be built based on speculation and many that have been completed remain empty. There are good reasons for this. First, the key money, or deposit, is substantial. Koreans can pay at least US$21,000 for a medium-sized apartment. In Gangnam or Ilsan, they can pay even more. Some proptery owners want the whole year's rent in advance. In March 2004, Korean laws are changing for foreigners, in that they only have to pay three months in advance. However, this is still quite expensive.
In Seoul, you pay for trash collection by purchasing trash bags. They come in white colour bags for residential use in sizes of 5, 10, 20 and 50 liters. Orange colour bags for business in 20, 50 and 100 liters, and light blue colour bags for public use that come in 50, 70, and 100 liters. These trash bags can be purchased at most local grocery stores. You must recycle everything here.
There are several different types of housing that are available in and around the Seoul-metro area. These include individual houses, villas a.k.a town homes, apartments and studios. Be prepared to shell out some hefty cash. Usually anywhere from at least US$2,500 per month for a studio on up to about US$14,000 per month for a house or large apartment. Additional housing options in and around Seoul include what is called an "OfficeTel" which is part office and part cramped studio, boarding houses, or hotels.
Seoul and Busan is major Expat location within Korea. In Seoul, Itaewon, Hannam-dong and Sungbuk-dong are the main area for expatriate’s living.
There are many western style properties available for rent from individual house, condominium to high rise apartment. The standard of accommodation is high but expensive. Most have walled gardens and are quite private featuring spacious living room, ample parking and attractive views.
Cost of housing
Housing in Seoul is generally among the highest priced in the world. What may seem like a generous housing allowance may be quite low for a foreigner living in Korea. It is varies based on type of residence, location, interior and views. Monthly rent can be from US$700.00 for a studio to over US$10,000.00 for 4-5 bedrooms individual house in the city and more expensive ones available for a quality of houses. The local currency is Korean Won.