House Hunting – Seoul Searching

Today, Day 1 of Apartment searching began.  From our housing orientation we have learned that realtors generally manage the units that they show you.  There is no MLS system like in the US where one realtor researches and shows you all available listings.  We were advised that you should work with 4-5 realtors to make sure that you are getting a lot of good units to see.  Additionally, they advised that we must make sure that we negotiate with the landlord to include items such as cable, internet, water jug delivery, and power transformers; utilities and parking are already usually included.

We started off by contacting Andy, a realtor that one of Scott’s co-workers in the US and Korea recommended. It was pretty clear that Andy has helped a lot of families, as he was able to come pick us up at the front of the Dragon Hill Lodge (not everyone is allowed on base).  He was friendly and said that he had a quite a few options lined up for us.

So here are what is important to Scott and I and I will rate these on a scale of 1 (worst) – 10 (best):

  • Open Floor Plan
  • Spacious Rooms
  • Closet Space
  • Appliances
  • Amenities
  • Proximity to Restaurants and Shopping

1. The first stop was City Park Apartments which is located in Hangang-ro.  Many of Scott’s coworkers live here.  There are two towers in this complex and the buildings are approximately 7 years old.

City Park Apt

The unit we saw was in Tower 1 and it was a 2 bedroom/2 bath.

  • Open Floor Plan (5): The space was open, but for the size of the unit it did not feel like the square footage was well used.
  • Spacious Rooms (5): Master bath was smaller and the kitchen countertop space was very limited (small L shape kitchen)
  • Closet Space (7): There was a nice large walk in closet in the master bedroom and decent closet space in the other rooms.
  • Appliances (3): The unit came with a very small washer and no dryer (and there was very limited space if we wanted to bring a dryer in)
  • Amenities (7): The building features a sauna, gym, and indoor golfing. There are also heated floors.
  • Proximity to Restaurants and Shopping (6): It is only a 5 minute walk to Yongsan station, but there is not much going on immediately near the building.
  • Price: $450/month under budget

2. We then went to the Richensia building which is located in Wonhyoro (Munbae-dong) and approximately 5 years old.

Richensia Apt

The unit we saw was 3 bedrooms/2 baths and located on the penthouse floor, so the views were quite nice.

  • Open Floor Plan (7): The unit was also open and there were lots of windows and light.
  • Spacious Rooms (7): The master bedroom was pretty spacious and the other bedrooms were okay.
  • Closet Space (7): There was a nice large walk in closet in the master bedroom and decent closet space in the other rooms.
  • Appliances (6): The unit has a washer and dryer combo.
  • Amenities (6): The building features a gym, and indoor golfing. There are also heated floors.
  • Proximity to Restaurants and Shopping (9): It is only a 5 minute walk to Samgakji station. There is a supermarket and restaurants in the basement of the building.
  • Price: $100/month under budget

3. Next up was the Trapalace building which is located in Namdaemun-ro and approximately 5 years old.

Trapalace Apt

The unit we saw was 4 bedrooms/2 baths.

  • Open Floor Plan (7): The unit had a fairly open floor plan.
  • Spacious Rooms (6): There was a larger bathroom with both a tub and shower.
  • Closet Space (8): There was a very large size walk in closet.
  • Appliances (6): The unit has a washer and dryer combo.
  • Amenities (7): The building features a gym, indoor golfing, and a rooftop garden.
  • Proximity to Restaurants and Shopping (7): It is only a 3 minute walk to Seoul Station (which is the central hub of the transit lines)
  • Price: $215/month over budget

4.  And the last building we visited was the Asterium which is located in Dongja-dong and the building is about 3 years old.

Asterium - 1 Apt

The unit we saw was in tower B and a 3 bedrooms/2 baths + den.  It is located on the 29th floor, so there were some nice views.

  • Open Floor Plan (7): The unit was also open and there were lots of windows and light. The building is fairly new, so everything looks in good condition.
  • Spacious Rooms (4): The bedrooms, including the master, were very long and narrow.  The master bedroom was also quite small. We really did not like the bedroom layouts.
  • Closet Space (5): Closet space is limited, no walk ins, and very few areas to hang clothes (mostly space for folded clothes and shoes)
  • Appliances (6): The unit has a washer and dryer combo.
  • Amenities (9): The building features a gym, sauna, indoor golfing, and all units come with a small basement storage unit. There is a keypad lock on each unit which we really like (we have this at home).  Finally, there is a trash chute and food waste disposal directly in the unit (sorting trash is taken very seriously in Korea and improper disposal will result in large fines)
  • Proximity to Restaurants and Shopping (7): The building is connected to Seoul station, but it is not open yet.
  • Price: $100/month over budget

Our favorite so far was the Richensia because of the spaciousness and open floor plan.  We still think that we can do better in terms of apartments, so we will keep looking tomorrow with our 2nd realtor.  Stay posted for what we find tomorrow!

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