Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ask a Waygook - What Does a Provided Apartment Look Like?

The biggest chunk of anxiety for most people who choose to take a job teaching English in South Korea is wondering where they will live and what their apartment will look and feel like.  The range of living conditions a new teacher could potentially be dropped into are quite large.  The place a new teacher is given is what they most undoubtedly will have to make the best of for their entire year.  If they choose to renew their contract and stay a second year, options then become available to find a new or nicer apartment.

I took pictures two years ago of the apartment that I was given when I first arrived in South Korea.  It was not a great place, but I could have done much worse thinking back about it.  I have since left this apartment and moved into a new two-bedroom place that still falls within the housing allowance provided to me in my contract.

Most contracts signed by native English teachers specify what will be provided in the apartment.  It will most likely be a one-room studio apartment.  Schools usually provide in the unit a Western style bed, a television, a gas range, a washing machine, a table with two chairs, a closet or wardrobe, and a refrigerator.  Not usually included (but sometimes provided anyways) is a desk, a microwave, and an air conditioner.  Some utilities might be included in the price of renting the unit, otherwise they are the responsibility of the native teacher.

Your apartment will either have a single key lock or have a digital code on the door.  New apartments have digital code locks, one to get into the building and the other for your unit.  Older buildings will provide you with a key to your unit.  Korean delivery guys love to stick flyers on your door.

When you come in there will be a small entrance way.  Koreans never wear their shoes in their home and there is usually a place to put your stored shoes.  There is also an extra lock for the door when you are inside.

The door on the right that you see in the picture above is to the bathroom.  Most Korean bathrooms are wet rooms and everything in the bathroom is capable of getting wet.  The shower is attached to the sink and you are supposed to shower standing in front of the mirror in your bathroom.  There is a drain for the floor under the sink.  The door frame to my bathroom was actually too narrow for the washing machine to fit through, but normally the washing machine should be in there.  Many units have the washing machine in the bathroom, but they can also be in the kitchen area.

This is looking into my room from the entrance area.  You can see my frig on the right and my washing machine on the left and my bed straight ahead.

Koreans do not have bed sheets.  Good luck finding fitted sheets in Korea.  They have quilts and comforters and they are all bright colors with girly designs.  This is the manliest blanket I could find.  This bed is slightly wider than a twin sized bed but not as big as a double.

This is the standing, movable closet I was provided.  Nothing too exciting.

This is the washing machine.  It has two lint traps inside and does an excellent job washing clothes.  Next to nobody in Korea has a real drying machine.  When you arrive, you will have to buy a drying rack and hang your clothes to dry them.

This is the sink area.  There will not be a garbage disposal.  Korean sinks usually have a catch filter in the drain that can be removed and cleaned whenever necessary if bits of food go down the drain.

This is a standard gas range.  You will not be given a stove.  Two burners is the norm.

The fridge I was provided was tall and included a freezer, but it was narrow.  Enough for one person, but other teachers have been provided smaller refrigerators or even full sized family ones.

Here is the TV provided.  I only used it the first month I was in Korea while I was waiting for my internet to be hooked up.  Korean television will be strange, but there is usually at any given time three or so recent Hollywood films being played on different channels.

Any questions?  Leave a comment.


ellie teacher said...

this is if your lucky! my apartment is much smaller, and my fiance lives in it with me! this is what Iexpected when coming to Korea but was surprised at my tiny box. It is livable obviously, and I appreciate having somewhere to live at all but just wanted to warn everyone, You could get a better apartment, or much, much worse/

Darla Lorice said...

TRuly, many are having a hard time decorating their apartment without limiting the already small space provided. The key to this is to choose appliances and equipment that are dual purpose. It saves money and space.
Kingsland Apartments

Sean Lin said...

I would not know on how to navigate these elevators in South Korea. The apartment has a nice western feel, but the Korean concept design is still present.
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jacquelina said...

Ellie Teacher or to anyone else that could possibly answer my question. Are the apartments they provide strict with who lives in it? I am in process of applying to EPIK. I am an American and my boyfriend is from Spain and planning on moving there with me as well.

Would it be possible for us to both live in it.

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