The Cheapest Korean Housing for Rent: Goshiwon

The Goshiwon or Goshitel is one of the many types of apartments in Korea, it is also the most budget conservative living spaces as you can rent your very own Korean housing for as low as $200-250 USD a month! This could be a great option for backpackers, students and short term visitors. 

If you’re new to Korea and would like to know more about the cheapest apartments you can find in Seoul, then keep reading and we’ll guide you through how you can rent your very own goshiwon apartment.

What do I need to stay at a Goshiwon?

In order to get a goshiwon apartment, you’ll need a piece of ID such as an ARC (Alien Registration Card) or Passport. If you’re planning to stay at a Goshiwon for a month or two, you may be required to pay a one month deposit that will be completely refunded to you at the end of your stay.

This deposit is to ensure that whatever damages incurred during your stay will be compensated for before you leave. However, there shouldn’t be any problems as long as you follow all the rules.

korean housing documents

What do you get in a Goshiwon?

All Goshiwons have a standard-sized single bed, small desk, drawer, and overhead hanger. You’ll need to buy your own bed sheets which you can find at a large hypermarket or general store such as E-mart or Homeplus.

The cheapest kind of Goshiwon you can find will usually go for around 200,000 – 250,000 won ($200 – $250 USD) a month. From there, you’ll be able to shell out more cash for better quality units.

korean housing goshiwon

Internet and Cable TV

Most, if not all Goshiwons provide high speed broadband internet that is accessible by cable or wifi. Some of the more expensive options will even provide a flat screen TV and a small refrigerator, but you’ll be paying around 150,000 won ($150 USD)  more for these amenities. 

Heating and Air-conditioning

All Goshiwons should provide heating and air-conditioning for visitors. If your goshiwon does not provide either of these, then consider leaving and finding another one that does. Korea’s weather is very extreme during winter and summer.

While all goshiwon apartments should have proper heating and air conditioning, the system is normally operated by management. The heating is usually set to a specific temperature for an entire floor, so you won’t be able to turn it on or off without consulting the manager. However, most rooms are usually equipped with their own air-conditioner.

Private Bathroom vs. Communal Bathroom

You should have the option to choose if you would like to have a private bathroom. This additional amenity could cost you around 100,000 won ($100 USD) more as you’ll be paying for convenience. You can otherwise use a communal bathroom that is shared between everyone on the same floor (same gender).

Window vs. No-window

You’ll have the choice between a room that has a window or one without. Having a window is completely optional, but it could be a lifesaver for those who are especially claustrophobic. You may have to spend an additional 50,000 won ($50) a month for a room with a window.

Thin Walls

One thing you’ll notice about many accommodations in Korea would be their thin walls. This means you’ll be able to hear your neighbor occasionally sneeze, cough, laugh and talk.

Security and Safety

Korea is one of the safest places for living but it’s always good to have extra security. Goshiwons are normally quite secure as you’ll have a manager within the vicinity during most business hours. All buildings are equipped with the standard smoke detector alarms, emergency flashlight, fire extinguisher and fire alarms.

Hallways and other public areas, except bathing facilities are monitored by CCTV. Some of the more modern Goshiwons also include electronic doors both at individual rooms and at the entrance of the building.

Communal Kitchen

Goshiwon also include a communal kitchen where they provide free cooked rice, instant noodles, coffee and sometimes even Kimchi. You’ll be able to cook your own food as well as use the already provided kitchen utensils (spoon, chopsticks, etc.) to eat your meals.

Since everything is shared, you may have to clean up after yourself and make sure that you put everything away in its proper place.

Pricing and Location

The price of your Goshiwon heavily relies on where the place is located. The general idea is that if you’re in a crowded area like Hongdae or Gangnam, then you’ll most likely pay a much higher monthly fee.

If you’re really on a budget, then a good tip would be to get a place that is not in a densely populated area, but somewhere that’s just a bus stop away. This can dramatically decrease the amount you’ll have to pay monthly, up to $50 – $100 USD.

What does ‘Goshiwon’ actually mean?

The word Goshiwon, is actually a combination of two words, Goshi (고시) and won (원). ‘Goshi’ means examination whereas ‘won’ means place or house. The history of Goshiwon revolves around these living quarters being a place for students to live and study.

In order to become a high ranking government official or work as a diplomat, young korean students need to study for extremely competitive exams such as Heng-jeong goshi (행정고시), Sa-beob goshi (사법고시), or Wae-moo goshi (외무고시).

These examinations are for students who want to become a government official for administrative, judicial or foreign affairs. These highly competitive exams take 2 to 3 years to study for, and are very difficult. Therefore, many students who study for these tests would do nothing but just study, eat and sleep just to prepare for these exams.

korean goshi exam

Modern day uses for Goshiwon

However, as the living cost in south korean metropolitan cities like Seoul increases, the demand for cheaper housing has also increased. These days, many young Koreans and expats live alone and need an affordable alternative.

Goshiwons are now being occupied by many young adults who prefer to save money while living alone. At the same time, they’re very popular among young expats who are also passing by Korea.

saving money in korea

Where can I find a Goshiwon?

Goshiwons can be found throughout large cities, mostly around highly populated areas near famous universities such as Hongdae or Sinchon. You can also find them around affluent neighborhoods like Gangnam as they have started to become much more popular over the years.

There are several Goshiwons around Seoul that have an English speaking staff catered to servicing foreign expats.

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