8 Things to Know About Korean Studio Apartments (or, Long Overdue Tour of My Hobbit Hole)

Back in August, I said I would upload a video tour of my apartment, and that never happened. Oops! I’m going to make up for that now. Even so, I’m using a video that I shot when I was giving my orientation buddies a tour. I think parts of it were funny and underline the semi-comedic value of living in free studio apartments in Korea. As a side note, you can’t judge me for the disarray — it was my first night there!

8 Things to Know About Korean Studio Apartments

Here are some general things to know about studio apartments in Korea:

  1. When you walk into a house, there will likely be an area a few square feet around the door with a lip, separating it from the rest of the room. Make sure you take your shoes off here.
  2. Air drying clothes is much more common than owning a dryer.
  3. Baking is uncommon. Don’t expect to have a full stove let alone an oven.
  4. You will probably not have a bathtub or separated shower from the rest of your bathroom.
  5. Places in Korea have what’s called “ondal floor heating,” a series of pipes that heat up under the floor and keep the floor and room nice and cozy during the winter months. It’s my favorite thing.
  6. Invest in an extension cord in case your outlets are in annoying spaces.
  7. Understand that you are living here for basically free (if you are teaching), and be grateful. And finally…
  8. Make sure you have a rice cooker. Those things are a lifesaver when it comes to saving money.

This post isn’t meant to scare anyone off from doing something like teaching in Korea, but it is meant to show what you may have to prepare for. I know some of my peers’ situations were better and worse in different aspects; for instance, Danny had a balcony that his drying rack, washer, and some of his clothes cabinetry sat out on, freeing up much of his bedroom. He also had TWO stove burners! I was jealous as hell.

One of our other friends had a full fridge, a full oven and stove top, and a balcony, but his bathroom was so crowded by his washer that he had to get a gym membership nearby just to take showers comfortably. Moreover, others lived in shared spaces, where they had their own bedrooms but the common area was open to each other. That might not bother some, but for others, it can be a deal breaker.

Parting Remarks About Living in Korean Studio Apartments

Finally, some studio apartments may have bugs. From ants to mosquitoes that just won’t go away or maybe even a cockroach that mistakenly wandered in, a studio apartment will build your backbone in Korea!

Now having lived here for a few months, I can say that though my studio apartment feels like a cage at times (it’s sooo small), I have been able to organize my things to make it more comfortable. I would recommend bringing photos of family and friends if you ever plan to do something like this to make your space homey, as well. I haven’t gotten homesick yet, but I’m sure having those will help ward it off in the future.

What About You?

Have you ever lived in a studio apartment, either in the West or in Asia? What did you think about the cramped space? Or have you had a different experience abroad with larger spaces? Would you like living in studio apartments? Let me know in the comments below!

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