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 off-base (or on-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.
Beth has given us a glimpse into her lovely home in Seoul, near Yongsan. Thank you, Beth!
CONTRIBUTED BY BETH PASCHOS
1. What’s the name of the city/village where you reside?
2. What is the nearest military installation and accompanying entrance (a.k.a. Gate) to your home and what is the approximate driving time to that installation/gate?
We are closest to Yongsan Army Garrison. There are many gates that we are pretty close to but the closet would be the PX gate. It is about a 5 minute drive from our apartment building.
3. What DoDDS school district is your home zoned for? Is there a school bus system available?
Elementary: Seoul American Elementary School/Yongsan
Middle: Seoul American Middle School/Yongsan
High: Seoul American High School/Yongsan
I am not sure about the school bus system because my child is not school age. However, our apartment is very close to post so I am sure that getting transportation to the schools is very easy. If someone is interested in living here, I would encourage them to check with housing first to see what options are available.
4. What is the nearest highway or main road to your home?
We are convenient to many highways, Highways 70 and 88 are the closest.
5. Please describe the “feel” of your neighborhood (i.e. pet-friendly, child-friendly, safety, spaciousness, predominantly “Korean” or “American”, urban, rural, etc.).
Our neighborhood is very family-friendly. Our apartment building backs up to a Korean middle school and high school, so there are always children around. We are also walking distance to a couple of local city parks, including Hyochang Park. If you have a pet you would have to check with the realtor as some landlords do not allow pets, but there are plenty of parks and areas to walk dogs or take pets out. We are also very close to Sookmyung Women’s University, which has a museum and a lot of nice buildings. The atmosphere is very family-friendly and lively!
6. Are there places of service in your neighborhood within walking distance such as restaurants, convenience stores, laundromats, bakeries, coffee shops, parks, etc.?
Yes, a lot! There are some American favorites within walking distance, such as Baskin Robbins, Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, and Starbucks, as well as a lot of different types of cuisine available, not just Korean. There are a lot of cute coffee shops, convenience stores, boutique shops, flower shops, bakeries, etc. There is a laudromat that is just down the street (had to use it the other day when our dryer was broken!). There are also some markets with fresh fruits and vegetables and Paris Baguette is right down the street. I also feel very safe because we are located behind the Yongsan-gu Police Station, we have a guard at our building and the garage is closed after 11pm.
click photo to enlarge
7. Please describe the style of your home (i.e. Westernized, traditional Korean, detached family home, townhome, etc.) What voltage is available in the outlets (110/220)?
The style is a little more Westernized than some of the older apartments I’ve seen. It is not quite a high rise, there are only eight floors, and we live on the 7th floor. Some of the appliances are Korean, such as the door lock and bathroom bidets. But our dishwasher is a German brand. The oven and stove are in Celsius and use gas. The outlets are Korean style, 220 voltage. So we had to buy a few transformers (you can usually get cheap from people who are PCSing!) but we are getting by fine with those.
8. Please provide general information about your home such as the rent, square footage, number of bedrooms and baths, special amenities, etc.).
We pay approximately $3100/month, or 3,250,000 Korean won per month. Our utilities are in three different bills: water, gas and electric. They haven’t been more than 500,000 won but it is not summer yet. We have four bedrooms and two full bathrooms. We have a master suite with our bedroom and bathroom connected. The only thing I do not like is that the guest bathroom does not have bath tub, only a shower, so we give our daughter baths in our bathroom. We also have a cute little balcony that connects to one of the guest bedrooms and a nice spacious laundry area.
9. Are there any special accommodations or tasks that you’ve had to complete to make your home useful such as purchasing transformers, appliances, etc.?
Yes we did have to purchase transformers and a microwave, and then all of the little things you generally need when you move. There wasn’t really much we had to buy that wasn’t either provided by the Army or came with the apartment.
10. What costs are there associated with living off a military installation and how do you pay for those costs?
We get housing allowance that covers our rent and utilities. Other than that, I would say no other costs except maybe we use more gas because we have to drive a little bit farther to get the commissary, but that is a very minor difference as the drive to the commissary is about 10 minutes.
11. How is parking provided for your home?
We have a garage with two spots that are provided for us as well as visitor spots. I have never had an issue with parking, and I drive a huge van!
12. Are there any outdoor spaces or yards provided for your home?
Unfortunately, no. That is the one thing that I miss the most, having a yard! But there are two great playgrounds and parks within a 5-10 minute walk away.
13. How did you find your home (i.e. AHRN, agency, classifieds, word of mouth, etc)?
We found our real estate agent through word of mouth, and she showed us this apartment. We knew as soon as we saw it that it was the one! She is awesome and I would refer her in a heartbeat!
14. Are you satisfied with the maintenance services that are provided for your home?
Very satisfied! Housing is very good about coming out to fix things quickly, and my real estate agent has always been able to get things fixed and taken care of in a timely manner. Also, her office is within walking distance to the apartment, so paying rent and utilities is a breeze!
15. Finally, what advantages and disadvantages do you feel has been your experience living off-post here in Korea?
Advantages: Being able to walk to different places and really get the full experience of living here. Walking down to the markets at night to buy good fruit for very inexpensive prices! Being able to flag a taxi in a minute to get somewhere, or walk to one of the four very close subway stations. Having a very nice, spacious and modern apartment with heated floors and nice views of the city is a plus as well!
Disadvantages: The only disadvantage is that we are not as conveniently located to things on post, and I miss that neighborly feeling of having Americans living next door. But other than that, I love where I live!
Please feel free to add any additional COMMENTS that you feel would be helpful to others about living off-post.
Make sure that you love where you live if you are going to live off-post. Visit the area at night to see if it gets loud because that’s when Koreans like to be out and about for shopping and such (it doesn’t get very loud here by the way). Make sure that the area, as well as the apartment, are convenient to the things most important to you. For me, I wanted to be able to walk to a playground with my daughter and have a convenient drive to Yongsan. We also wanted a newer place with at least four bedrooms and two bathrooms. If you are patient you will find it!