Most expats moving to Busan won’t have to go through the process of finding their own apartment, as many employers provide their employees with suitable accommodation – this is especially true for expats teaching English in Busan. Those who want to rent their own accommodation will find that Busan is quite affordable compared to Seoul.
Due to the short-term nature of expat assignments, most people tend to rent rather than buy property. Rentals tend to move quickly in Busan and expats should therefore research the processes involved in securing accommodation in the city ahead of time.
Types of accommodation in Busan
Like in other Korean cities, most people live in apartments in Busan. Large multi-storey apartment blocks (apateu), as well as smaller apartment buildings (yeollip jutaek), can be found across the city.
Less popular forms of accommodation include individual houses (jutaek dandok), officetels and villas.
Finding accommodation in Busan
Expats who aren’t provided accommodation by their employer may struggle finding a place to live in Busan. That said, using newspapers, such as the Korean Times or Korean Herald, or expat social media groups or online property portals may be useful.
Though most real-estate agents (budongsan junggaesa) don’t speak English, they may still be the best option for expats to find accommodation. These agents act as a mediator between the property owner and the renter. Expats are more likely to find English speaking agents in neighbourhoods popular with expats. Asking a Korean friend or colleague to assist in finding housing may also ease the process.
Renting accommodation in Busan
Once expats have found a property that meets their requirements, the next step would be to sign a lease and secure the accommodation.
A typical lease in Busan is signed for one year. Renters have to give at least three months’ notice if they want to move out.
Tenants have to pay a large deposit (or 'key money') to secure a property. There usually is a minimum amount that needs to be paid, but the larger the deposit one puts down, the lower the rent. Any damages to the apartment will be paid for out of the deposit when moving out. The remainder of the deposit is returned to the tenant.
Utilities aren't typically included in the monthly rent, so expats will need to budget extra for this. These bills can be paid via bank transfer at the bank, ATM or through a mobile app. Some bills can even be paid at convenience stores.