Living in South Korea?
Accommodation and Health in South Korea
Different Types of Housing
While looking for a place to live in South Korea, you will come across different types of housing. Your choice should depend on your current situation (are you living alone or with your family?), your income, and your personal preferences. Before you begin your apartment search, try to keep in mind that housing space is often measured in pyeong (1 pyeong = 3.4 m²).
- Serviced apartments are the best choice if you are visiting South Korea for just a few months. They are often furnished and offer you hotel-like services. Some even have a pool or other facilities you can use. On the downside, serviced apartments are more expensive than regular apartments.
- Regular apartments are probably the better choice for expats who are staying in South Korea for a long-term assignment. The rents vary, depending on the city and even the district you move to. Don’t be shocked if the apartment units are smaller than expected.
- Officetels are another popular housing option in South Korea, particularly among younger expats and Korean students. These are high-rise buildings which offer both residential units and office space. Officetels come fully furnished and with a 1–2 year lease.
- One-room and studio apartments are the right choice for single expats. These apartments are not very big (27 m² on average) and come with basic furnishing. However, they are a much cheaper option than officetels.
- Multi-family and private houses are usually the top choice of expats with children. This housing option is, of course, quite rare in urban areas like Seoul. You may, however, find them in smaller towns or on the outskirts of metropolitan centers.
- Traditional Korean housing, or the so-called hanok, is available as well in some towns and cities. Many of these hanoks have been remodeled and now come with modern amenities, including ondol (underfloor heating).
The Aspects of the South Korean Healthcare System
In South Korea, you will find three types of medical facilities, which are categorized according to their number of medical services and size.
- First-tier facilities are private hospitals and public health centers. They only offer a limited number of departments and services to treat early symptoms of illness.
- You have to visit second-tier facilities for specialist treatments and services of different departments. This is also the place to visit for emergency medical services.
- Third-tier facilities, on the other hand, are general hospitals or those which belong to a medical school. They offer specialist care, services of different departments, and over 500 hospital beds.
You should always visit a first-tier or second-tier facility for medical care or to get a referral to a third-tier facility. Otherwise, your health insurance may not cover the costs of your treatment and you may be stuck with high medical fees.
You usually have to pay medical fees in advance and then make a claim with your insurance provider. By now, most hospitals and health centers accept credit cards. Unfortunately this is not always the case, which is why you should always bring enough cash.
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