Home Away from Home: My Daegu Apartment Experience

My Apartment in Daegu South Korea

Inside My Home in South Korea

I walked into this apartment in Daegu, South Korea, and instantly felt like I was home. All I wanted was a modern apartment with a view. It had to have at least four bedrooms and a lot of light. Bonus points for a balcony, anything not near one of the military bases or a school, preferably downtown, so we could walk to bars, restaurants, and shopping. It took three months, we went 100,000 Won over Budget, but I love my little apartment in South Korea.

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The Apartment Search
My Little Apartment in South Korea

It dawned on me a few days ago that I talked a lot about the apartment search, but I never took you on a search of the one we chose. So here goes. It’s your chance to peek inside the neighbor’s house. There are a lot of travel tips about South Korea out there, so I’m sure you won’t mind a few more. Thankfully we ended up with exactly what I pictured in my head. That was almost two years ago, and in a few months, I’ll have to do it all over again.

miso-city-apartments-in-daegu-sk Home Away from Home: My Daegu Apartment Experience

 

The Apartment Hunt
Miso City, Daegu

I must have seen 20 apartments with five different real estate agents before finding this one. We had two deals that fell through. One the owner wanted more than we were willing to pay, and the other one chose another couple over us. Oh, well. We look back on those experiences and say it worked out for the better, because knowing more about the city now, those locations would not have been ideal.

You may also be interested in an inside look at off-post housing and where to rent in Daegu South Korea. With pictures, descriptions of amenities, services, and personal opinions while hunting for an apartment of my own, take a look at The Daegu Apartment Guide for Off Post Housing.

Why I chose this apartment?
Off Post Housing in Daegu

I have to admit. I had no idea what to expect when we moved to South Korea. We knew we weren’t allocated housing and would have to live on the economy, but they’re just wasn’t any information out there to ease my nerves. I contacted a couple of real estate agents, but no one returned my emails or phone calls. Luckily my husband’s sponsor’s wife (say that three times as fast as you can) stepped in and let me know that there were lots of options, based on our arrival date. Kristin was a godsend to me when I arrived; everyone should be so lucky.

Knowing neither one of us has an apartment living in our plans, we wanted to get the most out of our experience in Korea. With that in mind, the fact that we wanted to travel A LOT and we would probably be a one-income household, there were a few things we always kept in mind each time we visited an apartment:

1. It fit our Budget

Years of service determine pay and housing on military rank, and we are paid monthly, and it includes rent, maintenance fees, and utilities. So when you arrive, you know exactly how much you can pay for rent and not come out of pocket, and the housing office has a ceiling based on square footage and amenities. The apartment we chose was slightly over, but it seemed like a small sacrifice in getting most of what we wanted.

2. It is Energy Efficient

I love the heated floors. It gets cold in the winter when I need to be warm and hot in the summer when I need to be cool. We have three air conditioners in the apartment, one of which was installed after we moved in because my amazing husband negotiated it. The floors are heated during the winter.

South Korea’s utility companies are pretty high, even though the government owns them. The military subsidizes our pay for utilities, but it was essential to maximize those funds and not come out to pocket. So a modern, well-insulated building was outweighed a few of the checklist items on my list. We haven’t come close to maxing out our utility budget yet.

**Ask to see the utility history so you know what you are likely to pay for all the seasons to make an informed decision.

3. Modern Kitchen & Appliances

My kitchen is beautiful for Western standards but huge for Asian ones. It’s compact, but I love the color of the cabinets, center space, and layout. All the appliances are built-in, including the refrigerator and dishwasher, and there is plenty of room for my dining room table. I don’t use dishwashers, so it serves as additional storage. There’s a fair amount of storage over the fridge, a glass-fronted cabinet, in the kimchi (second) kitchen and a pullout spice rack. I decided to get creative with the storage of my little wine collection as well.

Kimchi_kitchen Home Away from Home: My Daegu Apartment Experience

The Kimchi Kitchen
It’s a Korean Thing

Sounds like a yummy restaurant, right? A kimchi kitchen is a small kitchen (includes a fridge, stovetop, vacuum cleaner, and washer-dryer) to cook foods that are, let’s say, extremely aromatic. You can close it off to the rest of the apartment. Its storage for the 7ft Christmas Tree I had to bring with me, luggage, and empty boxes we kept for appliances and electronics. It wasn’t until recently that I found out everyone doesn’t have one of these.

inside-outside Home Away from Home: My Daegu Apartment Experience
My personal space with a few things I love and have gathered in our travels. I utilize every square footage of my apartment, but I’m not overwhelmed, there are places to rest my eyes.
20170411_193947-1024x576 Home Away from Home: My Daegu Apartment Experience

4. Quasi Outdoor Space

There are no balconies in my apartment, but there is an inside-outside area with double doors that runs the length of the residence that I use as a library and my happy place. This is my space.

20170320_110428 Home Away from Home: My Daegu Apartment Experience

I can step outside, and we occasionally have to watch the fireworks on New Years’ Eve. It has a large flat ledge that is blocked by a gate where I could put a large bench to enjoy the breezes. And although it’s not real outdoor space, it feels like it in the summer, and I can sit at my wine barrel table and watch the world go by below me. One of the bedrooms has a small plant ledge as well, where I have my smoking friends step out to have a smoke. There is also an outdoor area on the 3rd floor that includes seating, a putting green and children’s play area.

4. There’s A Gym in My Little Apartment in South Korea

We wanted to live in a building that had a gym. The gym here is very modern and has all the necessary pieces of equipment, classes, and a Korean sauna called a jjimjilbang. We both signed up for the first year but did not renew for the second because we thought it was too expensive, and we could go to the gym on-post for free.

Ever thought about being a K-pop star? You may want to read about my experience in a K-pop aerobics class in the gym in American K-Pop Star.

5. Security

There is 24-hour security on the premises. And each apartment is equipped with a security monitor and intercom. There’s even a security monitor and TV in the master bathroom. I also like that I can call the elevators from inside our apartment.

6. Perfect Size for Just the Two of Us

When we started our apartment hunt, several of the realtors tried to steer us away from the downtown area. They said the apartments were too small; we’d get a bigger apartment in the other areas of the city.   Our apartment is 34 Pyong, which is 1,210 sq feet. We saw a couple of flats that was twice that size and cost less, but again I knew what I wanted. And my little apartment in South Korea is perfect for us.

7. The Layout is Perfect

The master is on one side and includes a walk-in closet and the larger bathroom. Everything else is on the other side of the apartment, which lends itself to guests IF we ever had any.

green-bedroom Home Away from Home: My Daegu Apartment Experience
The second bedroom is a bit darker but has a small inside outside area for my smoker friends. It has a large built-in closet where I keep all his military gear.

 

8. Space to Entertain Overnight Guest

Why do I need more than one spare bedroom anyway? We don’t. This isn’t our first rodeo. We lived in Europe for three years, and everybody and their mama said they were coming to visit. The only ones that made it were my mom and my daughter, who had joined the Navy. I refuse to get a huge apartment that we have to pay extra to heat and cool it when we don’t need it. That’s a new wine and travel money. My hubby uses one as his military closet, one is his office, and I use the other one if his snoring gets too loud. In two years, we’ve had three guests, two friends who drank a little too much to go home and my son, who is stationed two hours away.

Daegu-South-Korea-oversized-high-speed-modern-shower-Miso-City-Apartment-1 Home Away from Home: My Daegu Apartment Experience
Daegu-South-Korea-oversized-jetted-tub-Miso-City-Apartment-1 Home Away from Home: My Daegu Apartment Experience
Daegu-South-Korea-vanity-area-guest-bathroom-Miso-City-Apartment-1 Home Away from Home: My Daegu Apartment Experience

9. Modern Plumbing

Yes, you have to ask about this. Why? Some of my friends live in apartments where they cannot flush toilet tissue. They have to toss in into a trash can and take it out daily. Yes, it sounds gross, but if they don’t, they will stop up their toilets, and that’s even worse.

I recommend you save yourself the hassle and only buy single-ply TP.

Paying-Rent-Miso-City-near-Camp-Walker-Daegu-South-Korea-1 Home Away from Home: My Daegu Apartment Experience

10. Location, Location, Location

I can walk out my door and hit two malls in 5 minutes. Granted, I’m only running the food courts when I do. You’ve heard me complain about the driving, well it’s worse downtown. Thankfully, we are 5 minutes from the Metro and bus stop, a minute and a half from a taxi, and we can walk to most of our haunts in less than 20 minutes.

kitchen-in-Miso-City-downtown-Daegu-South-Korea Home Away from Home: My Daegu Apartment Experience

A Few Things to Consider

1. We left a lot of the larger furniture in storage. Rooms are small, but elevators are even smaller, and I have seen many large couches left in the trash bins. Looks for creative ways for storage.

2. As I’ve said, storage is in short supply, and I brought TOO MUCH STUFF. I have an entire palate in the warehouse with a Korean storage company. I stored all my heavy artwork because my walls are either marble, wood paneling, or wallpaper.

3. I brought our mattresses and left the bedroom furniture, and I highly suggest you do too. The military does provide beds, but they are incredibly uncomfortable.

4. I love that this building has three elevators. Even then, the building has 28 floors, and I still have to wait from time to time. So seriously consider the number of lifts in your complex.

5. I think its important in a small apartment to carve out personal space. My husband enjoys the office space and one of the spare bedrooms for all that military gear, while I’ve decorated the indoor-outdoor space and the yellow bedroom in a more feminine manner to suit me. I really love my little apartment in South Korea.

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Comments

    1. Stacey A. Peters

      Thank you for your support of the blog. I didn’t want to put any holes in the cement, wallpaper, or wood paneling. So I hang things from the wooden frame that wraps around the ceiling. I put in hooks and hand pictures and mirrors using thin wire you can barely see. When I leave I’ll just plug the holes with wood putty.

  1. Erica

    I don’t know why, but I didn’t think apartments were modern like this. I am happy to see that we won’t have too many adjustments to make when we move there.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Hi Erica, yes, there are a lot of modern western style apartments in Daegu. Make sure you get a good realtor who knows the market because they do have traditional Korean style apartments too.

  2. Jafakash

    Yep, I am apartment hunting now. And it sucks. My main problem is that I can’t afford most of the things that I want, so I’ve definitely had to be harsh with what makes it to my need list (a dishwasher, refuse not to have it) and my want list (garage parking). Plus I don’t have a Miguel, so I am looking for a roommate as well, and not having a crazy is pretty high on my need list. It suckssss but hopefully I will find a place in the next month or two!

  3. Rosemary Alicea

    You’re Blog is absolutely fabulous and helped to ease my nerves. I do wish I could ask you a few questions One on One…as an older Military Spouse I think we’d hit it off and I could definitely learn a lot from you…All that said I am actually feeling a bit more confident.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Rosemary, I cannot tell you how much your comment made my day. I often write thinking no one is reading what I spend so much of my time writing. It’s comments like yours — I wish I got more of– that inspire me to keep writing about my experiences, both good and bad, with this military spouse lifestyle. I find that most of the women I’ve connected with over the years have become great friends on-line and in person. The latter because this is a very small community and we often cross paths– especially in South Korea. I can’t tell you how many faces I’ve looked into, introduced as Stacey when it clicks– that I am the duffelbagspouse spouse. lol. Let me know if I can answer any specific questions about anything. You can always email me at stacey@duffelbagspouse.com and I’ll be happy to speak with you on the phone too.

  4. Rafaela

    Awesome article, Stacey.
    We are military family, just received order to Daegu, beginning of next year… you post was very very very helpful.
    God bless you <3 Thank you for share information 🙂

  5. Tristan Chua

    Great photos on your apartment! How much was your expenses on it? I haven’t been to south korea and would definitely love to go to someday. Nice blog! Keep on sharing!

  6. jakir chy

    Great,

    great read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about . Love this post!!
    It’s so interesting to see the statistics of a lifestyle we are trying to make work for us.It sounds as
    if you have worked yourself to where you want to be . Congratulations and continued good fortune!

  7. Kristen W

    I’m headed (with my family) to Daegu as a DODEA teacher and have a zillion questions about the real estate situation there.

    My most burning question is about deposits. I’ve heard that often they require fairly large deposits for the apartments – was that your experience?

    1. duffelbagspouse

      We are military and thus pay our rent monthly. We were required to give them one month security deposit.

      GS/ civilian employees are different. They pay their rent yearly. The Federal Government writes the check and that payment is made at contract signing. It includes electricity, cable, Internet, gas, and all maintenance fees. You can negotiate for utilities, gym memberships, trash bags water delivery etc… As such, I think the security deposit is not just for security, it includes all the above, but yes, its quite large.

    2. duffelbagspouse

      Utilities are negotiated upon based on historical information on your unit. I am told that if you regularly exceed your monthly rates, they may not renew your rental contract.

  8. Indra

    Hello,

    May I ask your help to link me to a real estate agent in Daegu? I am about to move to Daegu in 1-2 months and hence I need to find a housing soon.

    May I ask where did you stay during the period when you have not secured a permanent residence?

      1. Indra

        I am civilian, about to be a postdoc at a local university there. Sadly the univ staff isnt being very helpful at the moment regarding these housing matters.

        1. duffelbagspouse

          Good grief. I have three agents I can give you contact information for. Sadly none of them will say much past boo to you until you get here because the market moves quickly and anything they tell you about can and often is old info by the time you arrive. summer is at Prime real estate 01048052451 and Sunny is at Koolhouse.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      I do love it. I can’t wait until it warms up a little so I can enjoy it, its a little cold in there right now.

  9. Lynz

    Totally agree with needing your own space and thayou have that in such a small aparrment. I suspect because its just the two of you, you’d need a little downtime to come up with new things to talk about.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Apartments are modern, traditional or a little of both. Many older Koreans still sleep on mats on the floor and others sleep on mattesses that are so hard you might as wwll be.

  10. 9buckcrossing

    Thank you for sharing this. I feel like a part of me is going through the experience with you. There are so many differences we don’t always understand as Americans or non-travelers. Or things that we take advantage of… A secondary kitchen to cook, a guest room, my wine cabinet with stemware rack. What a journey you must be on in acclimation of this season in your life! Thanks again for taking us with you!

  11. Elizabeth O.

    That’s really amazing! I love how the apartment looks! It’s really spacious and I love that you have everything you need, including security.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      Thanks Elizabeth. Its cozy but the layout makes it seem more spacious. And of course having the things you love around you makes even the most temporary digs feel like home.

  12. Daisha Williams

    I just got a tone of inspiration for my home and future home. I truly love your décor style. And Korea also happens to be on my travel list.

  13. Crystal Gard

    I also think it is important to have your own space in a home. Everyone needs a spot where they can have alone time and unwind.

    1. duffelbagspouse

      No we just put some stuff in storage so that we wouldn’t be too cluttered. That would have been awful for two years. I need space and to have open corners for energy to move around my home.

  14. Jazz

    I love the simplicity of it. I am able to relax and unwind better when everything is nice and tidy. This makes me want to reorganize my home which is something I’ve been working on doing.

  15. Milton Goh

    Your apartment is nice and cozy looking. Love all the designs and the way you utilized all the space. Must be cool to live in South Korea! I dunno, or is it the green is greener on the other side? Haha!

  16. Charise

    I think it’s so important to have individual space, yin your home also!!!! This is something that I don’t have and it drives me insane!!!! We brought entirely too much stuff!!!!!

    1. duffelbagspouse

      I did too Charise. So much of my stuff is in storage here in Korea and in the US. It’s hard to know what you should bring when you PCS. But my advice is to error on less than more. I had to put that stuff in storage or we would have been miserable trying to live with no empty corners. What’s funny is that I have been purging for years, I don’t want to drag a bunch of stuff all around the world with me or pay to have it stored.

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