Our apartment rental in Seoul
Renting in a foreign country, in places as exotic as Asia, is easier and not as exotic as one might think. In fact, many places to stay are up to western standards and I have to smile a bit when writing this because in many areas, Asia is a lot more accessible than one might think.,
We use these sites to check on homes. We do take some time to pick an apartment, inspect pictures and clarify specifics. Like checking the apartment’s location on the map, before making a booking. Locations do not have to be right in the centre but easily accessible by public transport to save time and money.
Offers vary greatly not only in price but communication with the host. We always make contact beforehand via mail to check on apartment features that are important to us.
Our apartment in Seoul came with a big table and a portable wifi device (called “wifi egg”, using LTE technology, and providing us with internet access in whole Korea; we had normal wifi in the flat as well), both things we asked for, before making a booking. We paid 47 Euros per night (about 50 with the airbnb fee) and stayed one month.
This is the place. A typical residential building, perfectly located right next to the MRT.
SK Group is the third largest conglomerate in Korea, owning a lot of real estate in Seoul, amongst other businesses. You will see the SK logo a lot in Seoul.
The basement is like a hotel lobby, with a reception and the best invention ever – a convenience store inside the building. Seoul is super safe – you don’t need a key or card to enter the building, the receptionist won’t ask any questions.
Even toilets are in the lobby.
On top of the building – 18th floor – there is some sort of a recreational area. The noise of the generators is kind of loud though.
We are curious to see what’s on top of buildings. Sometimes a stunning view awaits.
Tomek working out on the spin-around. Seoul provides many free and public workout stations for everybody across town, not only on top of buildings but mainly near green areas and in parks.
Deeper down at B2 floor is probably the greatest challenge. Residents are committed to recycle. Which is great. It does pay to sort things before going down to B2 though, as the smell down here is truly malodorous – and Seoulites don’t even eat cheese.
The most dedicated and dreaded part in recycling at B2 is filling wet food waste into this yellow recycling bin. A thing that works really well in our relationship is that Tomek has dominated this daily chore.
We live on floor 14. As well as in the future. Everyone has their cubicle in an environment that provides all comfort in one place. 24h shopping, maintenance services and the best thing is…
… the lock from the future. Keys, even swipe cards are just so outdated. We did not have to look for keys when going out, nor cram through our bags (well, okay that is mainly a female burden) to get into our apartment. Just a pincode and sesame opens up.
The kitchen/living/bed room. The super flat, tiny black portable wifi device that gave us internet wherever we were sightseeing in Seoul, sitting on the bar. Audrey Hepburn was watching us all the time.
There were no knifes, no pot nor drainer, so we asked the host, who was fast to provide. A huge pot and strange flat drainer with no handles, a bit difficult to handle when cooking noodles.
The pot was as big as our sink.
Out host had a thing for cute decorations and pictures, many by Yoshimoto Nara – I like the artist a lot for his creepy-cute kids drawings.
An excellent washing machine with no mould, nor age related afflictions is just such a great deal.
Showers are often a fail in Asia due to low water pressure and simply bad design. This one was very tricky to adjust. The hot water has to be manually mixed with cold water using another knob. Due to fluctuating water pressure this was impossible to do without the water turning either burning hot or cold. The trick was to use the time frame while the water was heating up, then, once the water turned cold, to turn the shower off and start again.
Room temperature and floor heating could be adjusted using this wall panel. Sometimes we would get loud warning messages about possible power cuts. But there was never a power shortage.
The apartment is facing the more serene back with the French embassy and other residential buildings.
Just in front of the building runs an elevated motorway flanked by two other roads (six lanes). We closed the window at night to be able to sleep. In all its greatness, Asia can be incredibly noisy. There is always construction or traffic noise in the area.
The bedroom. The windows could use a cleaning from the outside but cannot be opened for that purpose. One window opens a bit which was sufficient to get fresh air.We didn’t use the aircon at all.
The living room area. Right before we were leaving for Taiwan. Isn’t it amazing, how we manage to fit in all we need in two suitcases!
South Korea has the fastest internet in the world but internet was slow during our first days and various staff came to the apartment trying to fix it - until the problem was fully resolved by our host changing the provider, which was a really nice gesture.
Overall, we enjoyed our stay in Seoul, so we even prolonged for a few days.
The apartment was not only very close to two MRT lines and Seoul Station, just a few meters away was the bus station to Incheon airport.
In our area was the theatre featuring Korea’s most famous spectacle. The NANTA Cooking performance (where I ended up on stage).
A rare sight in Seoul are these tiny streets with traditional old one storey homes, which have to make room for residential blocks.
Psy is also living in our area. In fact you can find Korea’s most famous rapper around every corner.
And this man is demonstrating that street smells (from trash piles, sewers and small restaurants) do surround you in Seoul all the time.
As we were riding the bus to the airport I took a last picture of the typical skyline of Seoul. Most Koreans live in a satellite suburb and commute to work.
Our next home report will be from Taiwan where we rent a lofty two storey apartment!