28.04.2017 - 28.04.2017 11 °C
By the end of 2018 we will move to Seoul, more precisely the area of Gugi Dong. It is much more affordable than the posh downtown of GangNam and still close to the city centre –about 6 km to the royal palace. At the same time it is very close to Bukhansan, by far the biggest national park in the Seoul region with over 30 km of tracks.
It took some time to understand which factors affect the price of real estate in Korea. Besides the obvious criteria of size and finishing, a number of unexpected factors appeared:
- The quality of the school in the neighbourhood. The schools in Seoul work with “catchment areas”: if you live in the zone of a given school your children have the right to attend that school and otherwise not. The reputation of the school is by far the most important price factor, as Koreans are obsessed with the education of their children. Gugi Dong has an international French school, but I suppose that the local institutions lack fame and glory.
- The distance to the metro. “Close to the metro” in advertisement means: max. 3 minutes on foot. That is a big factor for Gugi Dong: the metro is kilometres away. A new station will bring us closer by 2021, but even then it will be more than 1 km away from our place.
This being said, there are plenty of busses that bring you within 10 minutes to a metro or wherever in the city, but that doesn’t count.
- The inclination. Seoul citizens like flat surfaces and these are relatively rare, as the whole region is hilly. If your place is on a slope, the price glides downhill.
- The type of construction. Koreans prefer high rise buildings above smaller constructions.
Our place in Gugi Dong does not score well on these 4 categories and we were able to acquire it at a reasonable (Korean standards!) price. 250+ square meters in a dead end street, parts of the living and the kitchen facing the slope of Bukhan mountain, 50 meters from the entrance of the park, in a development with 6 apartments – ours is the smallest.
We visited our place and met our tenants, took measures and checked what we would change before moving in (more than we thought initially) and we strolled in the neighbourhood to see what kind of shops we had within walking distance (more than 5 Korean Barbeque restaurants to start with), and returned fully satisfied to our 12 square meters Airbnb. The living room is “only” 70 sq.m., but we have 4 connected rooms that we see as extensions of the living room and that provides roughly another 80 sq.m. For the rest: 2 bedrooms and bathrooms and a very large kitchen. I have a 40 foot container in Belgium and a vast African art collection in Nairobi, I can’t wait to bring it all together.