Go to Korea, rent apartment and then get a teaching job. (8 Answers)

teachers renting apartment Korea

Question asked –

Is this possible? I’m not interested in Seoul, Busan or any of the bigger cities. Just looking for a studio sized apartment. How expensive is rent and would I have to sign a 12 month lease? I’m from the US.

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You’ll need a work permit to get your own place. Minimum is a 1 year lease. Some long-term travelers and teachers in between jobs stay in goshiwons. These are cheaper intensely small rooms in a building usually downtown or close to colleges where students live. Think of them as hostels, except you get your own room. The rooms are small though. If you’re over 6 feet tall, you might not be able to stretch our. Jail cell style. They probably have newer style ones. I looked at them 5 years ago, and said “not for me”.” Here’s a video of a goshiwon tour you can check out.

You won’t get an apartment without an alien registration card. Why would you want to lock yourself into an apartment for 12 months anyway until you’ve got a teaching job. My rule has always been to find an apartment within 10 minutes walk from my school. You eliminate the subway and bus commutes, which not only saves you money, but you have more free time, and you avoid sharing germs on crowded trains. My advice, get a job, then get your pad.”

There many foreign students who come to Korea, not to teach English, but to study Korean. They study in hagwons or universities and don’t have a residency card, yet, still get housing. It is possible. Try to connect with an English-speaking Budong San (realtor) in the city you’re looking. They should be able to help you out. Your choices will be a lot narrower without some type of residency card, but a valid passport might do the trick.”

Grab a goshiwon, and then your English teaching job. Then once you get your monthly housing allowance from your hagwon, then upgrade to a better apartment.You’ll need a deposit though. This could be anywhere from 5-10 million won that you give to the landlord and he/she holds until you move out. I’m guessing it won’t be too high for a studio or one bedroom apartment in a smaller city, but do you have it?”

“I don’t have any deposit money. I guess I’ll have to check out goshiwons.”

The other option is to sublease from a foreigner who already owns an apartment. They might not care that you don’t have a residency card yet. Explain your situation that you are job hunting, and they may just take you in if they have an extra room for a few months and when you get a teaching job, you move out.”

You could always find a Korean to give you a room, in exchange for language lessons, but I sense you want your own place. Goshiwon is the best option. You can find them everywhere.”

Sounds like a hassle to me. Do you speak Korean, do you know how to negotiate with Korean real estate agents and landlords? Do you know how to get utilities, gas, water , and Internet turned on in Korea?”


Commute from home to hagwon?

Question asked 

I was offered an English teaching contract with a hagwon with several branches in and around Seoul. They can’t say yet, where I’ll be teaching. What if I’m teaching in Bundang and have to commute to Seoul where my apartment is, or live in Incheon and have to commute to Seoul? What are the average commute times for teachers? Is 30 minutes or 1 hour reasonable to be on the buses or trains?

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“There are many factors to consider. How far you are from a subway station, rush hour, weather, frequency of bus schedule, etc. I lived a 10 minute walk from the subway station (and I’m a very fast walker) then had to wait another 5 minutes for the subway to arrive and then a 25 minute ride to my hagwon and a 10 minute walk to the school. That’s 50 minutes in total, assuming everything times out well. So, you’re looking at least 2 hours a day of commute time. Are you up for that?”

“You can’t get anywhere in Korea in less than 30 minutes if busses or subways are involved. If you’re walking, you have control over your commute time though. Few teachers are fortunate enough to walk to school. And during the July monsoons walking 10 minutes in torrential rain isn’t fun.”

“Often on the teaching ads, you’ll see a 30 minute commute when in reality it takes 50 minutes. Recruiters will also lie to you to get you to take the job. They’ll tell you it’s only 5 minutes to the school from your apartment, but guess what? They are driving, not walking or busing it on a local village bus which includes wait times and stops.”

“Check Google maps and look at it from there. You can search by exact location, commute times, traveling by bus, subway, car or on foot. If you can’t find it in English ask a Korean friend to check it in korean for you. Long commutes using public transportation will wear you down.”

“Download the Seoul subway application and check your locations Seoul to Bundang and vice versa. It shows which train, the number of transfers and how long it takes. Would it be quicker to take a bus or train? Also check the KTX train. This isn’t a subway, but a real train. More expensive, but it’s an option if you’re going from city to city.”

“Just have your hagwon get you a one bedroom apartment walking distance from your school and be done with it. Just because you’re teaching in Korea, you don’t have to live the life of a Korean salary man who spends half his day riding the subway and bus to and from his job.”


I signed a teaching contract and mailed my documents to the hagwon. Then they chose not to hire me. What to do?

Question asked 

I followed all the instructions as the recruiter requested, as quickly as possible especially for the visa stuff. As you know it was a lot of work. The hagwon owners said the visa process would take too long to get me to Korea in the job on time. I suspect they hired locally or split up the hours between the other teachers. schedules. Regardless, I’m screwed. Has this happened to anyone else and what can I do about it?

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“Move on. What can you really do? You’re in the US and they’re hiring you from Korea. Even though you signed a contract and sent your paperwork, it’s ultimately up to the employer to follow through and give you a job. Sure, you signed a contract, but contracts in Korea are broken all the time with little to no recourse for the employee. I’d definitely ask them to send back my documents back. That’s the least they could do. Now, start applying for new jobs. Everything happens for a reason.”

“I would go back to the recruiter and tell them to take my documents and find me a new job at a new school. They’ve already got the paperwork in hand, they were willing to hire you, so you’ve passed the interviews. Surely the recruiter must recruit for more than one school.”

“Please make sure you carefully vet out the recruiter and the school online and call them and check their address before you send personal information and documents abroad. There are a lot of scams and identity theft. Not trying to scare you, but are you certain this was all legit? “

“Yep, it was for a major school chain, I talked with the recruiter on the phone and the hagwon director. I even spoke with some teachers at the school. But thanks for the warning.”


Will my tattoos prevent me from landing a public school job in Korea?

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“I’ve been told by my recruiter that tattoos are a no-no if I want to teach through EPIK. Apparently no tattoos on any part of the body are acceptable in Korea. I’ve got one on my arm but I can easily cover it with long-sleeved shirts. Would I be fired if I covered it and the school ever found out? For example, imagine if I had to go swimming with the kids and they saw my tattoo? Should I just lie and cover it up or come clean and lose the job?”

“Koreans are slowly getting used to tattoos. They have always symbolized gang membership or activity. That’s why they hate them. Tattoo parlours are opening up everywhere now, and Koreans are getting them now. Will they accept them in hagwons? I know many teachers who teach in private English academies and have them, but as for public schools, they are more concerned about the image of the teacher in the classroom. This is a government-run public education system, remember?”

“EPIK with tattoos. Forget it! You’ll get bounced out of the school if they learn you have a tattoo. Like you said, what about going to a pool or hiking or a picnic, where everyone is whirring t-shirts or tank tops in the sweltering hot summer. And you’re standing there with your long-sleeved shirt with an undershirt below just to prevent your sweaty arms from showing your tattoo. What about your neighbours, or kids parents or students seeing your on the weekends walking around revealing your tattoos? Not worth it. You’ll be in disguise mode and uncomfortable the entire time you’re in Korea.”

“I’d go the hagwon route if you have tattoos. Nothing worse than having to hide them 24/7 is it? I had a friend that did it for several years, but he wasn’t at EPIK and wasn’t shy about showing them when he wasn’t teaching.”

“Don’t risk it with EPIK. They have zero tolerance for body ink or unusual piercings.”

“There are other public school programs to teach at in Korea. Try those. They might be more lax on the tats….”

“TALK program won’t care as long as you hide them from your students. That is if they aren’t on your hands, neck or face…”

The recruiter Korea Horizons says “no tattoos” of any nature. You won’t see anything on the EPIK website about tattoos, but they don’t want teachers who have them no matter how qualified you are.”

“Here’s the rub, once you’re hired by EPIK, they’ll make you sign a document that says you won’t show them in class to students or anyone else and you WON”T get any more tattoos while under contract with them. I guess this is acceptable.”

“What a drag, covering up your tattoos, because you’re in a small town and everyone knows you. I’d go hagwon all the way buddy! Come out of the closet and show Korea your tats!”

“Most recruiters will reject applications from teachers who admit to having tattoos. So, you won’t even get interviewed. If you don’t disclose your tattoos and get to the job offer stage with EPIK, then you’ll have to sign a declaration that you won’t get any more while teaching with them in Korea. Small price to pay for a job with EPIK. And, you can’t compare a hagwon to EPIK. Better hours, better pay, more vacation time and a more professional environment. Having a public school teaching experience on your resume goes a lot further than some crappy money hungry hagwon.”

“What about small tattoos behind the ear or on your ankle. Is that an issue?”

“Take a picture and send it to the recruiter or the EPIK director. They’ll decide. I think it’s really about the size and visibility of the tattoo you have, not just having a tattoo. “

“Let’s say you have a “tramp stamp”, who’s going to see that?

“One teacher I knew bent over and the kids saw her TS and all laughed. She was busted. Not fired, but probably not respected as much by her students or management.”

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