Monday, July 20, 2015

Tour of my Goshiwon in Seoul + Tips for Living in a Goshiwon

I just wanted to start this post by explaining what a 고시원 (goshiwon) is.  It's a small room with typically only a desk, a bed, and a closet (also mini refrigerator and some shelving) which students usually rent to focus on studying. There's a communal bathroom and kitchen for residents to use and basic food is usually supplied (eggs, kimchi, rice, ramen). In this style, prices range from ₩200,000 - ₩400,000 per month ($175 - $345).

The style of goshiwon I live in includes a small bathroom (toilet, sink, shower head) and a window, which costs me ₩500,000 per month ($430). This slightly larger goshiwon ranges in price also depending on the location and condition from ₩400,000 - ₩800,000 per month ($345 - $690).
*Note that my ranges are based on what I typically saw while looking for a goshiwon. You will see a few cheaper and a few more expensive.

There's also a refundable security deposit fee of ₩30,000 for the key. One advantage of renting a goshiwon is that you can avoid Seoul's ridiculously high security deposits on apartments.

If you're interested in living in a goshiwon, I'll give you further tips about renting one and living there after the tour of my own place! This is my first narrated video so my voice sounds a little weird since I was nervous, haha.

Tour of my Goshiwon in Hongdae, Seoul

Review of my goshiwon

Overall, I love the place and am super happy here! I chose this goshiwon because a couple friends recommended it to me. Some things I love:
  • The place is generally clean!
  • The owner is very kind and helpful 
  • The supplied food is enough for my daily meals
  • With the window, the occasional air conditioning, and my small fan I'm comfortable
  • The bed is comfortable
  • The location in Hongdae is pretty convenient. Hongdae's surrounding stations all have things to do, so I don't mind taking the extra time to walk there and save money on the subway.
  • I almost never see bugs (I've been here two weeks and have seen a total of 2 harmless gnats and one small spider, which is pretty remarkable for any apartment in Korea I think)
  • I almost never hear anything from the other rooms (In my two weeks, I've heard a toilet flush once and a quiet tv once)
  • There's just enough space for all my stuff + me to live comfortably. 
There are a couple things that bother me a little, though..
  • I love being right across the hall from the kitchen, since it makes it easy to do my laundry, refill my water bottle, or get food whenever I want. I can also tell if someone else is in there and can wait until they're done. However, late at night I sometimes hear people cooking. They're usually not very loud since they're just cooking and it doesn't bother me much. There are some foreigners on my floor though who sometimes cook together at night and talk, and that is a little hard to sleep through.
  • I live in Hongdae and have a window right next to the street. Hongdae is a district known for some nice things like its quirky cafe culture, busking (people performing on the streets- art, music, dance, etc), and shopping. However, it's also known for its night life. I've never had issues with the clubbing aspect of Hongdae, but the drinking means I hear people passing by and yelling drunkenly outside my window. I'm on the third floor and it's usually just bad on the weekends and past midnight when I'm already in my room. As I said before, living in Hongdae is very convenient, but I could do without the drunk yelling.

Tips for Living in a Goshiwon
Some of these are tips given to me by my friends and some are from my own experience :)

  1. If you'd like to look for a goshiwon, I recommend Habang. Through Habang, you can find goshiwons and rent them. If you don't like the selection, you can request they find a different one for you or in a different area. I didn't rent through them because they charge a fee so I don't know the exact process, but I think it's a good resource to start with. 
  2. I also recommend not renting a goshiwon until you've seen the actual room. I've read many blog posts about people moving into a goshiwon that looked nothing like the photos they saw online. The photos were probably taken right when the place was opened, but the rooms had degraded in cleanliness when she got there. 
  3. Bring your own dishes and keep them in your room. If you leave them out in the kitchen, residents will think they're for anyone to use and will take them. This happened to me! As for what dishes to bring, scroll down to my Diaso Shopping List ♡
  4. Bring a towel from your country if you want to use a big size. I'm not sure if you can buy them here or not but I've only seen large hand sized towels. I know it'll take up space in your luggage, but you can always leave it here when you come back and use the extra space for souvenirs.
  5.  Don't bring more than two suitcases because you won't have any space to put them!
  6. You have to rent BY THE MONTH with goshiwon, so consider that when you're figuring how much it will cost.
  7. Bring shaving cream from your country if you need it. I haven't been able to find any for women here and ended up having to buy men's facial shaving cream.. 
  8. It's easy to just stay here all day and not go out if you're traveling alone, here for an extended time, or shy like myself but really force yourself to explore and visit new places!
  9. Buy things for your temporary home at Daiso! Daiso is a Japanese based home good store. Kind of like the Dollar Store but everything is cute. The following list is things I bought that I recommend you to purchase there too :)

Diaso Shopping List

  1. Bowl for all of your meals
  2. Chopsticks + Spoon set
  3. Small tray (not necessary but I find it so helpful when moving back and forth between my room and the kitchen)
  4. Mug for hot drinks
  5. Travel cup for cold drinks (you can use it at home and when you go out)
  6. Toilet paper (you can use this for tissues as well)
  7. Toothpaste + Brush + Suction cup thing to go on your mirror
  8. One of the plastic bucket things with holes on the bottom to put your shower stuff in
  9. Hand soap + dispenser if necessary ( Because of an allergy, I ended up getting Sultana of Soap from Lush and a cute bunny soap dish from Daiso!)
  10. Air freshener ( I put one directly in my toilet paper trash can )
  11. One of those shower puff things to wash with so you don't have to wash a washcloth
  12. Small fan (especially if you don't have a window)
  13. Stand up mirror (for makeup of course!)
  14. Umbrella (especially if you go during July-August, the rainy season)
  15. House slippers, shower slippers, samseon slippers (the rubber ones with white stripes for short trips outside)
  16. Hangers for your clothes
  17. Blanket
  18. One of the cute containers as featured in my video for putting your makeup in!

This was kind of a big topic, so if you have any questions about goshiwons, my experiences, or housing in Seoul, feel free to let me know in the comments !


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  1. Oh it's cool that you are currently living in Korea. What about a shared house living area? Have you lived in one of those before. I've followed you and hope you updated with more of your life from Korea. I did enjoy this read that perhaps I might go visit Korea myself :)

    Love, Anne ♥
    ✿ ✿

    1. Actually, for the first few days in Seoul during this trip, I stayed in a shared house with some sisters from my church. I found it somewhat uncomfortable (not just having roommates though), so I moved to where I could have my own place! If you're looking for shared housing, I can recommend a place where my friend stayed and liked it. I think it's just not for me :) I hope you come visit Korea after all! It's really a great place to be ^^

    2. Hey!:) My friend and I we are actually looking for a place where we can share a room so I'd be very glad for tips/places you or as you said, your friend know.

    3. Hey Lena! I'm not sure about sharing a room from experience, but I do know that Airbnb has a lot of options like that. I think most really cheap housing otherwise might be a little harder to find for shared rooms, since you'd probably need what's called a Oneroom (basically a studio apartment) and that would mean super high security deposits, like 10,000,000 KRW ! So I guess it would depend on how long you plan on staying. For long term, I don't have any resources to share but short-medium term, I'd definitely recommend Airbnb or this place where another friend of mine stayed:

    4. I also just found this resource if you want to look for something like oneroom/goshiwon or apartment

    5. Can i chat you through fb or maybe twitter? do you have? so that i can ask you some questions about korean culture? hehe :)

  2. This is such an informative post, thank you! I'm planning on going over to the motherland (lmao) for a couple of months, or maybe even a year. The shopping list definitely helped, LOL. ;___;
    Junniku blog!

  3. awesome! very informative post about goshiwon.. May i ask is there any Goshiwon that can fit 2 peoples ? I have a job offer at Bundang Area and what i am headache about is they don't provide any accommodation for me. So i have to find on my own

    1. Omg! That must be difficult.. how long would you need the room for? Honestly with longer term housing, other than goshiwons I'm not really sure what to recommend.. as I mentioned to someone else in the comments here, apartments in Seoul are ridiculously expensive because of the high security deposit (around 10,000,000 KRW, but could be much more). Since goshiwon are meant for students to focus on studying, I don't think you'll be able to find any that suit two people. I do know of this place which has rooms for two people ( ) but if you're staying for a year or more it's not the cheapest option, though they might give you a discount. Otherwise, I'd check airbnb. If you do want an apartment or goshitel/oneroom (like a studio), this is really great resource

  4. Thanks for the post ! its really informative. I want to know that the basic food they supply , do they charge for it? or meals are included or not?

  5. Does the gosiwon provide air condition in every room? im afraid that it will bother me up during summer �� because i saw your video and couldn't find any AC .. thankyou

  6. This is awesomeeee!

    Thank you so much! I've been to Seoul about 9 times, but I've only stayed at either guesthouses or hotels. The longest I've stayed is about 3 weeks, and paying for accommodation was really heavy on my savings. I didn't know much about Goshiwons, so this post is very helpful! <3

  7. Hello, I know this post is about a year old, but I'm currently living in Seoul and searching for a goshiwon. The room looks quite good for a goshiwon. Is it possible to rent a room without a lot of korean language knowledge? I can understand korean, but I can't talk and the site is only in korean. Do you speak korean and that's why you could rent it?

  8. Hey i know you wont see this since its been almost two years but i plan on staying in south Korea for 3 months next summer I'm having a hard time finding a place to live in Seoul and I'm a little confused on the website you linked .. is there any other websites or places i could look up?

  9. hello , Actually am also coming to korea ( seoul ) for higher studies on August 2018 so i need some information about room ? will u please tell me where am gonna stay with cheap rent.. i hope u will reply me soon...

  10. hello! is the window enough sunlight for you? do you take walks in the sun to replenish your sunlight levels? i want to make sure i can stay healthy if i ever live in a goshiwon. anyways, this article was very helpful and helped me get some insight on the conditions of goshiwons.

  11. Thank you so much for the tips! I've been trying to find a good resource for places in Hongdae, in order to enjoy the area without having to worry about getting back to campus by a certain time. I've been nervous about the process and this helped out a lot. :')

  12. They do provide food too? That's cool. Do they accept transient too? I will just be staying in Seoul for two weeks only and I guess it's cheaper than getting a hotel.

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  15. Daiso isn't a "Japanese based" store. I used to assume that BEFORE finding out that it was founded by [two, I believe] Korean guys, and has NEVER BEEN part of any Japanese ownership. The Japanese do own th SEVEN ELEVENS around the world, run by the Americans here in America ... all except the ones in Korea, which is owned and run by Seven Eleven Korea, who bought it out.

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