Living overseas has its challenges, and a commonly agreed upon one is finding that perfect place to live. To help those of us who are curious about the different options for living in Korea, readers have answered some of the most frequently asked questions about on-base housing. Do you live in an on-base (or off-base) house that you’d like to share with the rest of us? If so, please contact our Submissions Manager to fill out a template.
Kassia has given us a glimpse into her lovely home on Osan Air Base. Thank you, Kassia!
CONTRIBUTED BY KASSIA REEDY
Hello Korea Ye readers! I’m Kassia… here with my family living on Osan AB about 40 miles south of Seoul. We are still new here (only about 3 months), and I’ve been promising to write for the blog for months… Here I am, finally!
There are so many things about the Osan AB area I could write about (I promise more posts as I learn more and adventure more!), but information about housing is always what people search for first. So here we go…
Are you ready?!
First, I have to say a few things.
- I am the world’s worst interior decorator…
- I attempted to clean up before I took these pictures, but then I got distracted by cookies…
- If something is dirty and unkempt, we’ll blame it on these little mini-humans I have living with me, called children… they are akin to wild animals and refuse to keep anything clean. Clearly, it’s all their fault…
Okay, now that we have those things out of the way.
Welcome to my home.
What military base is your home located on?
Osan Air Base.
What area of the country is your home located in?
Area 5? Gosh I should know this …
What is the name of your neighborhood in which your home is located?
Osan doesn’t have neighborhoods so much as tower complexes. There are only a handful of townhouses for GOs, the Wing Commander, etc. The rest of the military family housing is tower-based. There are three family housing towers: Jirisan (jeer-ee-san), Hallasan (hall-a-san) and Seoraksan (sa-rock-san). The tour I’m going to give you today is a Jirisan 3-bedroom apartment.
Generally speaking, most on-base homes are approved for occupancy based on military or government rank. If you would like, please provide the range of ranks that your home is approved for?
The towers themselves aren’t necessarily divided by rank… each tower has a mix of enlisted and officer, but the size apartment you get will likely depend on both your sponsor’s rank AND how many dependents you have along with their age difference and gender. For example, a married O3 with no kids may rate a 3 bedroom apartment; while a married E5 with two little girls ages 2 and 3 may rate a 2 bedroom apartment… and a married E6 with a boy and a girl may rate a 3 bedroom. As well, a lot will depend on availability in the towers. People come and go all months of the year… we have only been here 3 months and I’ve had 2 neighbors move out already. They turn these houses quickly… one family moved out and within 4 days, the new family was in.
For specifics regarding housing, please contact Osan’s Housing Management Office. http://www.housing.af.mil/osan/
What DoDDS school district is your home attached to? Is there a schoolbus system available?
All on base school-aged kids go to either Osan American Elementary school, Osan Middle School ,or Osan American High School. All students that live on-base walk. The three towers are all relatively close to the schools. Only off-base students are bussed in.
There is also a large population of home school families. The DoDDs schools here on Osan do a really impressive job of supplementing the home school programs. For more specifics there’s an Osan Homeschoolers FB page
Please provide general information about your home such as square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, number of stories/levels, special amenities, etc.
I’m not sure of the exact square footage of the house – I know, fat-lotta good I am right? But, one of the floor plan pictures on the AF housing website lists a Hallasan 3 bedroom as about 1741 sq feet and a 4 bedroom with approximately 2302 sq feet. I would assume that these are roughly the same tower to tower. The housing website (linked above) has pictures with floor plans, which is really helpful. I will say, though, that their pictures are deceiving and make the apartments look small, thin and strange. I’ve attached some pictures throughout that will hopefully help a little…
So, in my unit I have 3 bedrooms and 2 full baths. Here’s my floor plan.
Let’s take a little tour shall we?
Welcome. Here’s our front door. Meet my dog, Didi. After we adopted her from the rescue organization we thought “oh cute name. Didi! Like Didi-doodle” We later discovered it was DD, for Devil Dog. Well crap. But we love her (most days) and she’s a good dog (most days).
This is a view of the foyer/entry hall, etc. Yay for the hall closet that actually fits all our puffy winter coats (you’ll need these folks! It gets cooold here) & boots & snow pants. Also junk. Our Wii Rockband set up is in here…because, well, because it made sense at the time and I don’t feel like moving it now.
Boo for the fact that here is no electric outlet in the entry hall. So no plug for your Scentsy warmer or a cute little lamp or anything…but maybe that’s just a me-thing.
When you come into the foyer and walk in the house, you can turn left (living rooms – yes my layout is the opposite of the floor plan pic… they flip-flop the layouts so no one’s bedroom backs up to another person’s living area – or maybe it’s for shared plumbing or wiring or something else logistically important, but I’m saying they did it for privacy-sake. Yep, going with that).
This is the living area. The living area and bedrooms are “carpeted”… it’s really more like an indoor/outdoor carpet. It’s the opposite of plush, but I’m sure it holds up quite well. A lot of people bring (or buy) large Oriental rugs to add some color and comfort. Also please keep in mind that I’m using a wide-angle lens here. I wanted to get the WHOLE room in one picture. Because I’m shooting wide (about 16mm), it distorts the edges just a tad and makes the room look slightly larger than it really is. According to the layout, this room is roughly 16×20.
My take… it’s bigger than we expected (I’m reserving that comment for this room only). You can comfortably fit almost any living room set up here. Both walls (the one where my TV is set up) and the one opposite (where Didi’s head is facing) are set up for TV/Cable, so you can choose whichever suits you best.
Now for the kitchen (lots of pics here for you). It’s relatively small and there are NO garbage disposals. However, we do have all American-style appliances and I like the open floor plan. So while messing around in kitchen I can still keep an eye on the boys in the living room.
This kitchen is made for people averaging, oh 6’4 in height…I can maybe reach the bottom two shelves in these top cupboards. So bring a step stool if you’re short-ish like me.
Here’s another view. Notice, I have a whopping TWO drawers. Yes, two. One, two… that’s it. This was a bit of a challenge.
Cool thing? I really like the under-cabinet lighting…and there are plenty of electrical outlets along the walls for your stuff. Space? Maybe not-so-much, but outlets, yes!
Here’s a shot of the two lower cabinets on either side of the stove. Two lazy-susans. That’s pretty handy…
Here’s the view of the pantry-ish thing next to the fridge. Beware, these shelves are very DEEP. So be prepared to dig for your canned goods and/or bring/buy some kind of organization device. I am the opposite of organized when it comes to the kitchen so clearly I have not figured this out. Notice our trash can IN the pantry. If you look at the layout, there’s really not a GOOD place to put a larger kitchen trash can. Some people put it under the sink or in the little walk way between the kitchen and dining room, but this just worked for us.
Speaking of dining room. Here it is. That’s my oldest. I think he was attempting homework, but really he was peppering me with questions, “Why are you taking all these pictures of the house? What are you doing?”
That there is a small IKEA Bjursta table and 5 Henriksdal chairs. The table is pretty thin, width-wise. If you have a very large dining room set, it may be a tighter fit.
Oh! Also, if you’re not going to put a rug down in the dining area, those felt things that go on the bottom of the chairs will be helpful. Otherwise it’s a loud scraping noise as chairs move around. When it’s quiet in my house (which is almost NEVER) I can hear chairs moving in the apartment above me.
This is a view of the whole living/kitchen/dining complex from my deck door. That’s my youngest. Not quite sure what he’s doing there. Notice the crown-molding… I thought this was a nice touch – one that you don’t find in most government housing. Also the ceiling fan… there are ceiling fans in the dining room, living room, and each bedroom. They are controlled (power and speed) by in independent switch on the wall, so no reaching up to yank on the cord. Helpful! Also the recessed lighting in both the living and dining room is on a fader switch.
Each unit has a balcony. It’s small, so a small table/chair set is about all that will fit (the door opens OUT which is why it’s hard to fit everything). On the plus side, each unit has a pull-down screen, so when it’s nice outside you can open your door, secure it with the latch outside, pull down your screen and you have a breeze with no bugs.
You are authorized to have a grill. Housing regulations stipulate that it’s a propane grill only – no charcoal. No you can’t ship your propane, but they have tanks for sale at the exchange.
Okay, now we’re headed down the hallway. First door on my right is the laundry/storage room.
Once again this is bigger than I expected. There is a decent amount of room for your extra stuff here. Granted, if you’re coming from a huge house with a basement and shed and 6 extra bedrooms… this is miniscule. But, overall, this was unexpected (for me at least).
A counter and more cabinet space. And, OH LOOK!, drawers! There they are…and ignore the dirty laundry tower…
Moving on down the hall…first door on the left. This is one of the three bedrooms. We put our kiddos together and used this one as a “guest” bedroom, but really who am I kidding, it’s a junk room. Notice the turkey fryer from Thanksgiving. This is also where we put our dog crate, my husband’s crocs, blah blah – okay junk room you get it.
And here we’ve got the kiddos room. Don’t make fun of the arsenal of Nerf weapons… they annoy the ever-living snot out of me, but my boys (to include the husband) love them fiercely. So, they made the trip. Yay! We are using that square shelving unit with the red and blue baskets as a dresser to save a little space, but you get the idea.
If you are planning on doubling-up your kiddos in one room, consider bringing a long closet tension rod (or some other type of shelving/organization to create space for more clothes). We bought this one at the exchange and it BARELY fit (we ended up having to rig it a little). All closets have just the ONE bar up high.
Moving to the hall bathroom. (Hi! That’s me with camera in front of my face.) It’s pretty standard. The toilet and shower are in a separate room. The toilet/shower room is pretty dark, but there’s not much you can do about that I gather… something about ballasts.
Here’s the master. I do believe this is where my interior decorating skills really SHINE.
That was sarcasm by the way…
This is the one room where I really feel the space pinch. We left our armoire in permanent storage anticipating this, but it’s tough to find the space for larger bedroom sets.
This is what annoys me most. My dresser doesn’t fit exactly along the wall. My OCD tendencies kick in full force with this… it drives me nuts. But there is really no other place to put this. So, it is what it is. Anyway, keep this in mind when deciding how much furniture to bring. I believe the 4 bedroom units have slightly larger master bedrooms…
And last, but not least… the storage cage. Every apartment has a corresponding storage cage. Here in Jirisan it’s on the same floor out by the elevators. Each unit comes with a padlock that’s pre-keyed to match your house key. Handy! Ours is there in the middle… (I took this several days after the previous pictures… notice the turkey fryer finally made it into the cage! Huzzah!). Not all cages are created equal, so keep that in mind. The one to the right of ours is considerably smaller as it’s at the end and is a strange triangle shape. You will be able to store some of our extra stuff in these, but it’s far from spacious. Also, consider bringing shelving (not huge stuff) & bungy cords… they will help when looking for creative places to put your things.
What places or services are available near your home such as restaurants, shops, commissary, playgrounds, parks, etc.?
Osan is what they call a ‘walking base’, meaning just about everything is in walking distance. If you’re a command sponsored family, you are authorized one car. (Second cars can be authorized with a waiver, but your sponsor will need to go through their chain of command for this.)
I LOVE this part of living here. I love that everything is close. I love that my husband drives our car to and from work everyday and we fill up the tank MAYBE once a month (more if we’re out adventuring of course).
How is parking provided for your home?
Hallasan and Jirisan share a parking garage. It’s actually a four level garage with the 2nd and 3rd levels reserved specifically for tower residents. Each apartment has one designated parking spot in the garage. The 1st level and the top level of the garage are public parking.
I believe Seoraksan has a large parking lot for resident vehicles.
Is there any yard space or outdoor spaces provided for your home?
There is a large playground in front of the Seoraksan tower, I believe it’s known as Mustang Valley. Also, there’s a new fenced-in dog park in the same area.
Jirisan tower has two very, very small playgrounds next to the building that are suitable for small children. The more popular play area for older kids is behind Hallasan tower. It’s much larger and there are about six swings for the kiddos.
Other than these areas, there isn’t a whole lot of green space for kids to run and play. However, my kids have taken their bikes onto the top of the parking garage to ride around (supervised of course) … and when it snowed they were able to run around and have a snowball fight with daddy up there… It’s not ideal, but it works. You make do.
What housing expenses are included with on-base housing (i.e. utilities, rent, appliances, etc.)
Since its government housing, you aren’t billed for electric or water. If you plug your coaxial cable into the wall, you’ll automatically get about 10 channels of AFN – for additional channels you pay through the contractor at the exchange (in the concessionaire mall). They are the same people that can set up your internet and VOIP phone. A basic phone line is free (it’s an off-base number and it’s free to call locally) – they have other plans you can choose from that will add long-distance calling, a US number, etc.
As well, the government will provide you with loaner furniture for up to 90 days as you PCS in and as you PCS out. It’s basic, but it’s better than sleeping on the floor. The Airman & Family Readiness Center has a loan locker where you can check out dish packs, iron, coffee pots, toasters, etc. It may take several weeks for your household goods to arrive, so these conveniences help to ease the transition.
Are there any expenses or fees associated with on-base housing? Are you satisfied with the maintenance services provided by your on-base housing organization?
No additional expenses/fees. Maintenance response is typically very quick, though the language barrier can sometimes be a challenge. Be prepared to be patient.
Finally, what advantages and disadvantages do you feel have been your experience living on a military base here on Korea?
I haven’t lived in an apartment since I was in my college dorms… and that was a long, long, LONG time ago. Needless to say, I was very skeptical when I found out it was ALL apartment living here at Osan, especially because we have two very rambunctious lunatics kids and a smelly wild four-legged-beast dog. However, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how happy I am in this little abode. In a nutshell:
- Taking the dog out – there was no way around this one. Gone are the days when I wake up, hair askew, fumble blindly for the coffee pot and stumble to the back door to let the dog out back. Now, I wake up, fumble blindly for something to put on my feet (my husbands boots, crocs, slippers, whatever) grab a plastic bag and head out the door…often cursing her as I go. Taking the dog out is my absolute least favorite part of this living situation.
- I’m terrified of setting off the smoke alarm. So, on top of having zero interior decoration skills, I’m also quite the non-chef. I can make a few things, but I’m still prone to burning the bacon. The fear that comes the instant I smell something burning and think ohmigod-the-entire-10-floors-of-the-building-will-have-to-evac-because-of-me… yeah. That’s a real fear.
- Base-regulated AC/Heat. I miss being able to adjust my own thermostat. For us, it’s more of an issue in the summer when I really want to crank up the AC – or when they turn the AC off at the end of September, but there’s a hot spell in October. Sweating at night is just no fun.
- All housing is close enough to the flight line that… uhm… WHAT DID YOU SAY?! Oh the planes are flying… WHAT?! I can’t hear you! If you’ve lived on a base with a very active flight line, you will be used to this… if not… it can get a little loud (more so with the windows open).
- I love the trash chute. Is that weird? No more waking up at 5am thinking, “OH MY GOD I MISSED TRASH DAY!” Nope. And it’s close to our door, so it’s an EXCELLENT chore for the kids.
- If it’s raining or frigid-cold outside, my kiddos can run next door or upstairs to play with friends.
- Each of the towers has a facebook page, which is actually pretty handy… people helping each other out. Need an egg? Want to offload some boxes? It’s a nice little community.
- Covered parking. Hello! Both the Jirisan and Hallasan towers share a covered parking garage (keep reading for a little more on that). No, it’s not underground or heated or anything fancy, but in the winter not having to spend 10 minutes scraping your car windows is something to be thankful for.
- More storage than I expected. Okay, so this doesn’t mean that there’s a TON of storage here, but our laundry room is larger than I expected and lined with shelves. It’s great. I love it!
- Safe. While any base is just like a cut of any other community… complete with people who intend to do no-good, I would say I feel this is a safe environment for my children. Lots of parents with smaller children… but a small enough and intimate enough community that my kids (even after only 3 months here) would have trusted adults they could go to in the event of an emergency.
- Your kids will feel like rockstars. Again, similar to the comment above… it’s a small enough community that you will see people you know everywhere… post office, commissary, exchange, Chili’s, etc. Your kids will love seeing their friends from school everywhere… on the other hand, that means I’ve had days where I’ve looked down and I was wearing beat-up yoga pants, crocs (I KNOWWWW… I knowwww), a t-shirt with holes, and maybe SOME of my hair made it into the hair binder. Yeah. That day. That day you see everyone you know. Okay, maybe this belongs in the CONS column…dang it.
- Great sense of community. There aren’t a whole lot of families at this base. 90% of our force are unaccompanied service members. There’s a great sense that we’re all in it together. Our spouses all work A LOT… so everyone helps each other out.
That’s the end of my little tour, please feel free to leave specific questions in the comments, I’ll help out as much as I can.
If you’d like to take a look at another unit on Osan, this blogger has given me permission to link to her site. Her home (Hallasan 3 bedroom) is amazing – the decorating is on par with professionals. Beware, her awesomeness knows no bounds and I’m hoping you will feel wildly inspired and not shockingly under-accomplished. I… am waivering right in the middle. Enjoy!!
PCSing to Osan with young children? Check out Kassia’s childcare post!