Recently Andrew approached me and asked if Chris and I wanted to take over the contract for our apartment. As it stands, our contract is in the school’s name and they pay the rent. Should we choose to take over the rent ourselves we would each receive 400,000 KRW (about $365) per month. We would be in charge of our own place.
In actuality, nothing really would change. If anything broke or if problems arose we would still be in the same situation. That situation being us calling a co-teacher for help but paying for any repairs ourselves.
The school only signed a one-year lease on the apartment and that’s obviously up. But they’re offering this change to us because they’re only paying 350,000 KRW per person. If we took the housing stipend we could have the extra 100,000 a month.
This smelled fishy. Why would they want to give us the extra money?? With all the budget cuts, this seemed strange. After asking about six times, I’ve been given the same answer – the budget is not really effected by it either way. I guess the school just really wants to absolve itself of this responsibility. The last foreign teacher at my school had his own apartment. It’s basically time to cut the cord and grow up – says my school. I’ve heard of schools that go the other way – a teacher wants their own apartment but the school will not consent because they don’t believe the teacher could handle themselves in a situation like that. It seems some schools just have strong opinions on what’s best for everyone.
At first I thought who cares -why change a good thing? We’re really really happy with our apartment. 2 bedrooms, ample space, great location. New building. It’s perfect (spoiler: so we thought).
At the same time, though, we could get a little extra money and the possibility we could stay in the same apartment. Plus, we are not the type to stay still. For the past 5 years we haven’t lived in the same house/apartment for longer than a year. (2010: Gunnison, 11: Greeley, 12: Germany, 13: Greeley 14: Gwanpyeong… ahh yeah Gs). Stability feels all wrong. So we looked into getting the contract in our own name. We could change apartments but staying in the same building – it would be a very easy move. Just take our stuff up or down the escalator to a better apartment.
So we decided to go for it. When approached about it, the realtor was more excited to show us another option we didn’t even know about. Both that are cheaper and better than the current apartment we’re in.
A side note: By controlling our own apartment we will have to put quite a bit of money down called “key money” this is for liabilities. Some key money can be in the tens of thousands – ours will be around $5,000. Which we will get back when we move out.
The rule was it had to be under 800,000 a month needed at least a bed and a microwave. Korean apartments come with “features” aka a bed that you pay for in your rent. Air conditioning, vanity tables, TVs, beds, microwaves, chairs, etc are all features.
Option 1: Same Building
Within the same building we could have an apartment of the same exact size but with
- a better view
- better built-in storage
- 2 air conditioning units for up and downstairs
We’ve always drooled over loft style apartments. We were really liking this apartment until we went upstairs. Come to find out, the kitchen is upstairs in a cramped little space right next to the bedroom. That seems so strange to us – although it would be extremely easy to wake up and put coffee on. Too easy, perhaps.
There isn’t enough space in the kitchen (we know because it’s the exact same kitchen in our unit). With the stairs and loft space we would have to have half of our food and cooking supplies upstairs and half downstairs.
Option 2: A block away
Chris and I had pointed this strange, industrial building out before. Wondering if people lived there because it looks a lot like a factory.
Inside, however, are some really nice apartments.
Lets take a moment to appreciate this kitchen – it’s huge compared to our current one.
This was a really quaint apartment. It’s a little smaller than the one we’re in but the kitchen is a lot bigger and it would be easier to keep cool and hot. Most importantly is the balcony. It is crazy huge. It has a private deck space with decent views (it’s on the roof) an included table, and a garden. Holy moly! This place is cheaper than the apartment we’re in right now?
We had it in our mind that we got a sweetheart deal on our apartment. And we really did. Some EPIK teachers get really terrible, moldy, smelly apartments. It seems all the apartments in our area are very nice so while we have a really nice one compared to people around the country – we have a not so good apartment based on the options in our area.
The loft has very steep stairs that go pretty much straight up. Not stairs for small children, elderly, or drunks thats for sure. At the top it’s about 8 cm too short for Chris to stand up in but it’s mostly just a place for sleeping. It’s going to take us about 4 hours to scrape all the glow in the dark stickers off of it. But there is nothing really wrong with the loft. Also we’ll get a smaller shower – but it’s still a separate shower. Not a wet-room like so many Korean apartments have.
Finally, you can see in the above picture that there is a little thin room between us and the balcony – this is a place for drying clothes – an issue we always have with our drying rack (where to put it). Things would dry a lot better in this sunroom area and they wouldn’t make the whole house humid.
Only 2 problems remain
1) We have to decide by tomorrow what we want to do
2) If/when we move – the soonest we can move in would be February 6th. We leave for the United States on February 8th. It will be a heck of a whirlwind to move, spend a couple nights and then leave for a month. Not to mention the familiarity of home will be gone when we come back in March.
If you have ever watched House Hunters they usually give the two homes really obnoxious alliterations – so which will we choose ? The Same Set-up or the Big Balcony?