CONTRIBUTED BY CHARISSE WINDEBANK
Next month will mark a year since we arrived here in Korea. Living in a high rise apartment has its advantages and I have learned to love it here.
At first, I wasn’t too keen on living in a concrete jungle. I missed my suburban home in Savannah, GA. I missed the simplicity and convenience of pulling up in my driveway. The daily elevator ride to my apartment unit is awkward enough for anyone who may speak the same language, but even more so when I am surrounded by only Korean speakers. It’s nice to hear someone speak English to me once in a while once they realize I am a foreigner. I tend to blend in since I am Asian.
Luckily, my 9th floor apartment makes it a short ride up and down the elevators. Although the higher the floor the better your view, not to mention the breeze you catch up there; our particular building has 53 floors. I noticed there is a metal cube against the corner where the buttons are located in the elevator. I always wondered what purpose it serves, until I saw a young child step on it to reach the higher buttons.
We have ample space for parking that is housed on the 2- 5 floors. The 1st floor has various restaurants, shops that includes nail salons, dry cleaners, hair salon, music and art academies, bakery and Starbucks. The 6th floor is where the gym, indoor and outdoor playgrounds, sauna, pools, and laundry room are located. I love the fact that I don’t have to drive anywhere to get coffee and do a little bit of shopping. Home Plus is located on B1-B3 floors and they have separate parking lots.
Our building is within walking distance of Suseong Lake. I love being able to get away from the city and walk to the lake. There I can take in the scenery and look up at the mountains. It’s a nice oasis away from the tall buildings and bustling city streets.
SK Leader’s View is the newest and most expensive apartment complex in Daegu, according to our agent. I guess most people are impressed when you tell them you live there. Lucky for us, the US Army pays for our lodging and we are happy to have found this apartment.
Most of the apartments here are high tech and have great amenities. I can only write about our place and maybe compare it to the other apartments we looked at before deciding on SK.
When we first enter the parking garage, the sensor automatically notifies the system that we are building residents and raises the barrier to allow you to enter. A magnetic card that bears the name of the apartment is mounted on both of our cars. The computer then transmits this information to the unit computer panel screen located in the living room. It will notify anyone who is home that our car has just entered the garage. Of course, it will be in Korean, but the graphic on the screen will indicate a car.
Once we arrive, a “key” can be used at the door panel or we can use our code that allows us to enter the building. The e-key, as I like to call it, is a rectangular (measuring about an inch) plastic key that is programmable to open the door. This same key will also open our apartment door or we can use a numeric code to open it. Once we have used the e-key, the elevator is automatically recalled to our floor.
Once we enter our apartment, motion sensors turn on the foyer and hallway lights. The bathrooms are also on a sensor and will automatically turn on lights once we enter. These lights are on a timer and will turn off once we have stopped moving or vacate the area.
The computer panel located in the living room is the central monitoring station. Here we can operate a number of things in relation to the apartment. Unfortunately, we do not utilize its full potential since it is only in Korean. Our agent put stickers on certain buttons to allow us to buzz visitors in the building.
There are other panels located in the kitchen and both bathrooms. The master bath has a TV that doubles as the PC monitor. I can operate the front door camera and let someone in from the comfort of my bathtub. The guest bathroom only has an audio panel, no video, though I can still buzz someone in or press the panic button that calls the guard to our apartment. I’ve made that awful mistake once; I should have known better since that button was in red! The kitchen has a TV and radio as well that allows me to view the front door camera.
In the living room a speaker allows the maintenance office announce any news about the building. Unfortunately, it is always in Korean. It’s quite unsettling for someone to be able to reach us in that manner. I feel as if I no longer have the privacy I once had in own home. Very intrusive and wish it wasn’t available to us. I often wonder what else they have installed in our apartment.
There is a fresh air system that is also installed. The control panel is located in the kitchen near the washer room. It allows for the entire apartment to circulate stale air out and allow fresh air in. Our agent assumed we didn’t need to know how to use it and never placed stickers for us to use it, but I think since we have a new agent, we will ask her to translate the buttons to allow us to get some fresh air in the apartment.
The air conditioning units are separate for each room. You will need to turn on each unit to each rooms you wanted cooled. I believe this is to save on energy costs since electricity here is very expensive. It can cost up to $1000 to keep the house cool in the summers. Winter months are less but can still run up to about $600 monthly.
To keep the apartment warm in the winter, each room has a thermostat that uses a series of plumbing under the floor panel. Hot water is pumped into each room once the unit is turned on to a specific temperature. It’s a modern version of an ondol, which is an underfloor heating used in ancient times.
When leaving the apartment, the foyer has an elevator recall button. It allows you to call for the elevator and will notify you once the elevator is available. This comes in handy for those living in the higher floors. I only used it once we are ready to go because the elevators are readily available given that we only live on the 9th floor.
Another service that is handy is the car wash system. If you lift one of your wipers up, this signals that you would like your car washed for a fee. I’ve never used the system and I’m not sure how they bill the tenants. I believe it would be all done in the maintenance office since all cars need to be registered.
Since our building is fairly new, nothing has needed repairs. The water filter needs to be changed often – it seems like every 3 months – but aside from that our place is extremely nice and beautiful. The views are breathtaking and we wouldn’t be able to afford this place if it wasn’t for our Living Quarters Allowance (LQA). My mortgage in Georgia was less than half of the rent!