Understanding Housing Rental Prices and Utility Fees in Korea  | Expat Guide Korea (2023)

Photo Credit: Aju News

For a newcomer in Korea, it's difficult to understand what is included in the rental price of your apartment and how to pay your utility bills. Especially when it comes to the utility and maintenance fees. To fully understand what you have to and don’t have to pay for, let’s start with the rental types.

Different Housing Rental Types

There are three types of rental systems in Korea:

1. Weolsae 월세 - this is the most common type of rental, where you pay the

Key-money (deposit) and pay monthly rent. The full amount of key-money will be given back to you after you move out. Usually, utility and maintenance fees are paid separately from the monthly rent. The average key-money amount in Seoul is 5,000,000 won for a studio, and monthly payments can start from 400,000 won. Normally, the rental contract is signed for one or more years, which makes this type of rent not attractive for the short term visitor. However, it’s still possible to find a short term contract for this type of housing.

2. Jeonse 전세 - this is mainly used for renting large apartments. However, you can also find a studio under these conditions. The key money is extremely high, about 70% of the apartment’s value, but there’s no monthly payment. You still have to pay for utility and maintenance fees.

3. Dangi Imdae 단기임대 - This is a short-term type of rental. This type is not so popular, and you don't need to put down the key-money (sometimes, there’s a key-money amount that is equivalent to 1-month rent). The reason why short-term rent is not so popular in Korea is that the profit of the landlord in such a case is unstable.

Understanding Housing Rental Prices and Utility Fees in Korea | Expat Guide Korea (1)

Housing Types

Now, let’s talk about the housing types because the utility and maintenance fees directly depend on the housing type. The housing where you have to pay for the utility and maintenance fees are Officetels (오피스텔), Studios (one-rooms 원룸), Apartments (아파트), and Villas (빌라). They all include a private kitchen and at least one private bathroom.

1. 오피스텔 (Officetel)

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The name itself sounds confusing, so let’s determine what this is. The Officetels are buildings with many floors, in which the room can be used as a place to live, or you can register it as an office. Learn more information here. The payment for utility and maintenance fees is the highest among other housing types. Normally, the Officetel room includes all major furniture and appliances.

2. 원룸 (One-room or Studios) and 빌라 (Villas)

One-room and villa buildings are shorter buildings that house studio apartments, which do not always include the furniture. One-rooms and villas can’t be used as offices, and the utility and maintenance fees are cheaper than in the Officetels.

3. 아파트 (Apartments)

Apartments are a complex of buildings (usually, about 5 buildings in one complex), which have a common courtyard and a parking lot. These are typical apartment buildings with lower rates for utility and maintenance fees, compared to Officetels.

Officetels, one-rooms, and villas can be divided into these categories:

  • 오픈형 (open type): one-room apartment with a combined kitchen;
  • 분리형 (separated type): one-room apartment with a small separated kitchen
  • 복층형 (a small two-story loft)
  • 1.5 룸 (1.5 room) - one-room apartment with a bigger separated kitchen (similar to separated type).

Understanding Housing Rental Prices and Utility Fees in Korea | Expat Guide Korea (2)

Why do the utility and maintenance fees depend on the housing type?

Each housing type has a different fee rate. For example, the electricity fee rate is calculated per pyeong 평 (all housing in Korea are measured in 평, which are about 3.3 square meters.), and Officetels have the highest fee rate for electricity. The reason for that is because Officetel buildings have a lot of activities due to the rooms used for businesses and use more electricity than other buildings mentioned above. The electricity usage of the entire building is calculated and then divided by 평. The 관리비 (building maintenance fee) in the Officetels is also higher because of the building services (cleaning service, elevator usage, public toilet, etc). The cheapest maintenance fees are with villas and one-rooms, as the range of services is much less (no security guard, sometimes no elevator, etc).

What is the building maintenance fee 관리비 and how to pay it?

The building maintenance fee 관리비 is a monthly fee that covers specific utilities and services of the building. It is hard to give an exact definition because sometimes it includes the utility fees, and sometimes it only includes the usage of the building’s services, such as general administrative expenses, cleaning expenses, disinfection expenses, elevator maintenance expenses, heating expenses, hot water expenses, and repair maintenance expenses. Sometimes there is no maintenance fee at all, and it should be written 관리비 없음 in the rental contract.

If the utility fees are included in the maintenance fee, it should be written 관리비포함내역. For example, if you see water and internet right next to 관리비포함내역, then you won’t have to pay for them separately, but still, you need to pay for other utilities like gas and electricity. All rental conditions are individualized, and you must discuss this with the landlord and realtor in advance. You should also clarify the payment method in advance but most of the time it’s paid directly to the landlord with your monthly rent. If you are given free housing by your academy (hagwon), ask your employer before you move in if you have to pay the 관리비 and how much it is. If you are renting a house on your own, check the conditions carefully as the building maintenance fees can sometimes reach more than 500,000 won in some cases.

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Understanding Housing Rental Prices and Utility Fees in Korea | Expat Guide Korea (3)

Credit: Daum

The maintenance fee difference at a villa/one-room and officetel/apartment

According to the Enforcement Decree of the Housing Act, maintenance fees are calculated by the apartment complex/household itself. Normally, a maintenance fee at an officetel/apartment should include general management expenses, cleaning expenses, disinfection expenses, elevator maintenance expenses, heating expenses, hot water expenses, and repair maintenance expenses. While for a villa/one-room there’s no specification.

How are other utility fees calculated?

These include water, gas, and electricity fees. A fixed charge (depends on the region, city, and the type of housing) + a consumption tariff + 10% VAT + a very small percentage of additional fees (about 0.04%, depends on the region, city, and the type of housing) = amount for payment.

How and where can I pay my utility bills?

There are a few ways to pay your utility bills:

1. By visiting the bank (this is not the best option as it requires time)

2. Telebanking or Online Transfer (learn to set up online banking)

3. ATM (any bank)

Steps to pay utility bills at the ATM:

  • Insert your card

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  • Then click on ‘Account Transfer’

  • Choose the bank (on the front page of your utility bills you can find a red-framed square, where different bank accounts are listed. Choose the one that suits you the most)

  • Enter the account number

  • Enter the total amount on the bill

  • Done!

3. KakaoTalk (the easiest and the most comfortable way)

Steps to pay utility bills through Kakao Pay:

  • Activate Kakao Pay. Go to the ‘More’ tab in Kakao Talk, and click on the ‘pay’ button. Follow the simple steps and there you go (the bank account and your phone must be under your name only)

  • After you activate Kakao Pay, click on the ‘pay’ button once again and scan the QR code on your utility bill (all utility bills have a QR)

  • Confirm the payment

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  • Done!

Second way:

  • Click on the grey bar with ‘pay’ button

  • Click ‘’청구서’ and choose what you want to pay for (e.g., 가스/전기 - gas/electricity)

  • Choose the gas/electricity corporation (the corporation’s name and logo are indicated on the bill)

  • Enter your name in the ‘고객명’ field

  • Enter the customer number in the ‘고객번호’ (you can find it on the bill, right next to ‘납부자번호’)

  • Confirm the payment

  • Done!


How much are utilities per month in Korea? ›

Utility Costs

Please keep in mind that, with the exception of internet, most utilities such as gas, electricity, and water are provided through the government. Utilities will generally cost a little over 100,000 KRW per month (84 USD).

How much does house rent cost in Korea? ›

Minimum monthly house rent in South Korea is around 300,000 KRW (250 USD) for a small officetel studio (5–8 pyeong). On average, however, expect to pay about 500,000 KRW (425 USD) per month for this type of accommodation in big cities.

How does rent work in South Korea? ›

Instead of paying monthly rent, a renter will make a lump-sum deposit on a rental space, at anywhere from 50% to 80% of the market value, which is then returned at the end of the lease term. The owners make profit from reinvesting the jeonse deposit, instead of receiving the monthly rent.

How is rent paid in Korea? ›

The Jeonse system is traditionally used by Korean nationals for the domestic rental market. The deposit plus monthly payment system, or Wolse (월세), is a variation on key money. This process involves having a tenant put down a smaller deposit than is used for Jeonse.

How much are utilities in South Korea? ›

Cost of Living Averages Table for South Korea
Average Restaurant Prices
Average Utilities Prices
Basic (Water, Electricity, Garbage, Heating, Cooling)$153.13
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local$0.12
23 more rows
5 Feb 2022

How much is the electricity bill in Korea? ›

South Korea electricity prices
South Korea electricity pricesHousehold, kWhBusiness, kWh
South Korean Won126.400119.812
U.S. Dollar0.0880.084

What is a good salary in South Korea? ›

The national average salary in South Korea (2022)

The salaries in the country range from 983,000 KRW (819.46 USD), which is the lowest average, to 17,400,000 KRW (14,505.21 USD), the highest average.

Why is Korean rent deposit so high? ›

“Lump-sum deposit rental contracts usually exist in countries where the financial system has not yet been fully developed, but Korea is an exception. Koreans tend to prefer jeonse over monthly rent because the interest on the bank's loans for the deposit is cheaper than what the monthly rent would be.”

Why is rent so high in South Korea? ›

Under the new real estate measures, the tax burden on multiple-home owners increased drastically and it has become untenable for many homeowners to have more than one property. As landlords struggle to pay the heavy taxes, some raised rents accordingly, while others decided to sell or move into their own properties.

How much is deposit for rent in Korea? ›

In its present form, Jeonse is a rental system that is only found in Korea. The tenancy begins with the initial security deposit of a single amount which is usually about 40% to 60% of the market value of the property. The security deposit can even be as much as 80% of the current market value of a property.

How much is a key deposit in Korea? ›

Key Money (Jeonse/Cheonsei): A large deposit that is usually 30% to 60% of the property value. The landlord keeps this money for the duration of the housing contract which is usually 2 years long. At the end of the contract, the landlord MUST return this deposit.

What is a jeonse loan? ›

Jeonse is a housing lease system unique to Korea whereby tenants pay a lump-sum deposit instead of monthly rent on a two-year contract.

What is the average rent in South Korea? ›

A single person estimated monthly costs are 1,114$ (1,441,957₩) without rent. Seoul is 14.50% less expensive than Seattle (without rent). Rent in Seoul is, on average, 49.17% lower than in Seattle.
Cost of Living in Seoul.
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 915 sq ft Apartment237,083.33₩
65 more rows

What is the basic salary in South Korea? ›

History of the Minimum Wage in Korea
YearMinimum wage (in South Korean won ₩)
HourlyDaily (8-hour day)
34 more rows

Can a foreigner rent in Korea? ›

Renting Accommodation - Seoul

It's easier than obtaining a mortgage, and it's also much more affordable since land is so expensive and there are so many possible complications connected with foreigners purchasing a home in Korea. To rent is quite easy in comparison – all you need is a passport.

How do I pay my utility bill in Korea? ›

There are 4 ways to pay the utility bill in Korea.
<Naver App>
  1. Access to Naver Pay on the top right of the main screen of the Naver app.
  2. Click the 'Notice/Payment' in the center of the Naver Pay page.
  3. Go to the 'QR payment' on the top right of the Notice/Payment page.
  4. Scan the QR code on your GIRO.
27 Feb 2021

Is rent expensive in South Korea? ›

Outside of the big city centers, rent can average from as low as $300 – $600/month usually for a studio or one bedroom apartment. In the heart of Seoul, you'll probably see rent costs of $800-$1,000+.

Do you pay for water in Korea? ›

It is normal to pay between 15,000 and 25,000 won per month in water bills for a single-person household in Seoul.

What is the lowest bill in Korea? ›

For practical purposes, the lowest denomination of South Korean currency in use is 1 won. The symbol for the South Korean won is ₩. Thus, an amount of 5000 won is expressed as ₩5000.

What is Korea's biggest bill? ›

Currently, four banknotes or paper bills are in circulation in South Korea. These are the 50000 won bill, 10000 won bill, 5000 won bill, and 1000 won bill.

What is the best place to live in South Korea? ›

Daegu. Daegu is the country's third largest city and easily one of the best places to live in South Korea for expats. It has vibrant nightlife, plenty to do, and job opportunities for foreigners are abundant, too.

What is considered middle class in South Korea? ›

From the 1990s the Korean government's statistical office, Statistics Korea, began to define the middle class according to the popular OECD measure as those earning 50 percent to 150 percent of median income.

Which occupation has highest salary in South Korea? ›

The highest-paid job in 2021 is a corporate leader (CEO) who will make an average of about 140 million won(110,000 USD) per year.

How much do foreigners make in South Korea? ›

The average yearly wage for foreign employees in South Korea is estimated to have exceeded 30 million won (US$25,000) in 2021, based on official tax data.

What is the maximum deposit for renting? ›

How much can a landlord ask for? A tenancy deposit cannot usually be more than 5 weeks' rent.

How does key money work in Korea? ›

Key money, or Jeonse (전세), is a leasing system unique to South Korea. The Jeonse system involves depositing up to 50% of a property's value (however, it can be as high as 60-80%) with the landlord for the duration of the lease.

Is rent cheap in Korea? ›

Most people live in small apartments, and a one-room apartment can set you back anywhere from 300,000 won ($265.60) per month to well over a million won a month, depending on the location of the apartment (Gangnam being one of the most expensive, the far north of the city being a lot cheaper), the facilities, and ...

Can a foreigner buy a house in South Korea? ›

Foreigners are permitted to purchase real estate in South Korea. Foreign residents wishing to buy are subject to the Foreigner's Land Acquisition Act and the Registration of Real Estate Act.

Is it cheaper to live in Korea or USA? ›

The average cost of living in South Korea ($1062) is 50% less expensive than in the United States ($2112). South Korea ranked 53rd vs 6th for the United States in the list of the most expensive countries in the world.

How much do English teachers in Korea make? ›

First-time English teachers in South Korea working in public schools through programs like EPIK typically earn monthly salaries between 1.5 to 3 million won ($1,150 - $2,650 USD). English teachers at private schools (Hagwons) earn from 1.9 to 2.4 million won ($1,600 - $2,000 USD) monthly.

How do you calculate rental deposit? ›

To expand on this formula, if you multiply one month's rent for your property by 12, then divide that total by 52, you will have the amount of one week's rent. You can then multiply that by 5 for the security deposit amount.

How is deposit calculated for rent? ›

A security deposit is an amount that a tenant pays to the landlord at the beginning of the tenancy. It is usually equivalent to 2-3 months rent; however, in some metropolitan cities, it can be as high as the rent of the entire year.

Do you get your deposit back in Korea? ›

The deposit is returned to the tenant at the end of the lease term – generally one to two years – if the agreed obligations are met.

What is the best bank for foreigners in South Korea? ›

Best Banks in South Korea for Expats

Standard Chartered Bank Korea. Hana Bank. Woori Bank. Shinhan Bank.

How much cash can you leave Korea with? ›

Foreign currency declaration upon departure. If Korean residents or non-residents carry means of payment (means of international payment, KRW notes, or cashier's checks) less than USD 10,000 out of Korea, no report is required.

What are the 4 loan types? ›

The eight different types of loans you should know are personal loans, auto loans, student loans, mortgage loans, home equity loans, credit-builder loans, debt consolidation loans and payday loans.

What are the four basic loan types? ›

If you know what you can afford, the following will cover the four main types of home loans: Conventional loan, FHA loan, VA loan and USDA loans. Chances are you qualify for more than one type so spend a little time getting to know the pros and cons of each.

What is a sandwich loan? ›

A sandwich lease is a lease agreement in which a party leases a property from an agent who is, in turn, leasing the property from the owner. A sandwich lease is a lease in which the lessor (landlord) of a property is also a lessee—leasing the property from the initial owner.

Is South Korea a good place to retire to? ›

🎧 Survey ranks Korea as 2nd-best Asian country to retire in

13 reported on the top countries for retirement based on the 2022 Global Retirement Index (GRI) released by the French investment bank Natixis.

What is the poverty rate in South Korea? ›

South Korea poverty rate for 2012 was 1.20%, a 0.3% decline from 2010. South Korea poverty rate for 2010 was 1.50%, a 0.3% increase from 2008.
South Korea Poverty Rate 2006-2022.
South Korea Poverty Rate - Historical Data
Year% Under US $5.50 Per DayChange
3 more rows

What jobs are in demand in South Korea? ›

8,000+ Jobs in South Korea (428 new)
  • Executive Assistant, Content - Korea. ...
  • Business Analyst. ...
  • Creative Writing Strategist - Korea. ...
  • Manager, Partner Marketing Creative - Korea. ...
  • Social Marketing Lead - Korea. ...
  • Analyst - Investment Banking & Capital Markets. ...
  • Customer Success Manager - APAC. ...
  • Corporate Events Specialist - Korea.

Do Koreans pay well? ›

While South Korean salaries tend to be lower than salaries in countries like the UK, USA, Australia, and Hong Kong, there's still a great variation within the country. As of 2022, the average South Korean employee gets paid about 46,600,000 KRW per year (USD 3257.33) before income tax.

How much is a 1 bedroom apartment in South Korea? ›

In February 2021, the average monthly rent for one-bedroom flats in Seoul, South Korea, amounted to around 510 thousand South Korean won, up from about 480 thousand South Korean won in the previous month.

How long can foreigners live in Korea? ›

Foreigners from visa-exempt countries are able to stay in South Korea for 30 to 180 days without a visa, depending on which country they are from.

How long can I stay in Korea as a foreigner? ›

A U.S citizen with a valid passport can visit the Republic of Korea without a visa for 90 days for the purpose of tourism or visitation. For detailed information on a foreigner's entry without a visa, please click here.

How much are utilities in Seoul? ›

Cost of Living in Seoul
Utilities (Monthly)Edit
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 915 sq ft Apartment237,083.33₩
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans)207.00₩
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)29,266.23₩
62 more rows

How much is water bill in Seoul? ›

It is normal to pay between 15,000 and 25,000 won per month in water bills for a single-person household in Seoul. To view a full translation of your Korean water utility bill, Click Here.

Is rent cheaper in Korea? ›

If you're moving to Korea without having your accommodation sponsored, rent is affordable in Korea. Outside of the big city centers, rent can average from as low as $300 – $600/month usually for a studio or one bedroom apartment. In the heart of Seoul, you'll probably see rent costs of $800-$1,000+.

What is the average cost of a house in South Korea? ›

The average price of apartments amounted to around 1.18 billion South Korean won, while the price of detached and row houses was about 941 and 334 million South Korean won, respectively.
CharacteristicPrice in million South Korean won
3 more rows
19 Jul 2022

How much does water cost in Korea? ›

The price is 0.36 USD. The average price for all countries is 0.70 USD.
South Korea - Bottled water - price, September 2022.
South Korea - Bottled water - price, September 2022

What is Giro in Korea? ›

The Giro is a credit and debit transfers service that KFTC offers to handle large-volume deposits and withdrawals to settle payments that take place in ordinary transactions between payers and payees using the accounts of financial institutions instead of cash or checks.

Do you have to pay for hospital bills in Korea? ›

South Korea Healthcare Costs

Every resident in the country, whether you are a foreigner or a Korean national, must pay to use the public healthcare system.

Is it hard to live in Korea as a foreigner? ›

In general, moving to South Korea is easy as long as you are prepared before your arrival. Although the country has a long history of not preferring foreign migration, those sentiments have changed as Korea has started to welcome more and more international companies through its borders.

How much is $1 worth in Korean? ›

1 USD = 1,299.350487 KRW Dec 14, 2022 02:30 UTC

The currency converter below is easy to use and the currency rates are updated frequently.

Can a foreigner buy property in South Korea? ›

Foreigner's Land Acquisition Act (FLAA)

Foreigners can acquire land in Korea by making a report, with the exception of land subject to prior permission. - Information on whether the land is subject to report or permission can be obtained from the Land Registration Divisions of the relevant Si/Gun/Gu offices.


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