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What is a Seoul Officetel?

Updated on November 11, 2011

Officetel studio in Banghwa-dong, Seoul

dishwasher and microwave included
dishwasher and microwave included | Source
murphy bed - it folded for my halloween party
murphy bed - it folded for my halloween party
always kick off your shoes at the front door
always kick off your shoes at the front door

What is an Officetel?

This is a common type of apartment rental in S. Korea. It seems the word is derived from the word 'office' and 'hotel' - it is meant to be similar to a hotel in that people live there but the word office comes into play because there are offices as well (photos of the building and area are included in a slide show and below) .

My last year teaching there, I lived in an officetel. My officetel was a large building that had mixed rental units. My building was 14 stories high made up mostly of studio apartments (see photo of my apartment with those fun pink cabinets). Interspersed throughout the upper floors were a few offices. It you want to teach and remain in populated Seoul, most likely you will have an officetel. They offer many services and amentities and are usually close to mass transit.

The officetel floors are heated thanks to that lovely traditional Korean heating system known as 'ondol.'

What was so great was the first two floors - which were totally rented out to businesses. The main floor of this giant block long building were filled with restaurants, bakeries, gourmet markets, gift shops and other businesses. If it was cold, I never had to go out. Just hop on the elevator or walk down from my 6th floor apartment, or just order a meal from one of the many restaurants. They'd bring it up on a tray using real china and when I finished eating, I only had to put the tray out in the hall.

On the second floor I could even have botox done (if I wanted to). There was also a full dental office, tea room, nail salon, the rental office, a cleaners (they didn't clean on the premises - I could just drop off) also a noriebang (nor.ray.bong) - over here we would use the term karaoke instead. A noriebang is a place where you could spend an evening singing, noshing and drinking - and laughing of course.

Across the courtyard was my friend Christine who also lived in an officetel - on the 14th floor in a rather fancy loft. Of course between the two buildings we could go to Dunkin' Doughnuts or Baskin Robbins. Again there were many restaurants - and I must mention full pulbic bathrooms on the first and second floors. (S. Korea does not skimp on bathrooms. In fact every subway station in Seoul had a full female and full male bathroom).

Then across the street was another large officetel - and there Christine and I went to the gigantic two story gym up on the 9th and 10th floors. I also visited a ful service spa where I was pampered royally!

Once we found out what an officetel was we knew this is where we wanted to live - in full service buildings with a (friendly) concierge at the front door.

When you get settled in S. Korea, be sure to enjoy the amazing traditional side dish - kimchi! -(see links below for kimchi and one of my favorite foods - pa jun/Korean pancake - excellent!)

Enjoy the photos!

My neighborhood in Seoul

my officetel right near subway
my officetel right near subway
snowy view from my window
snowy view from my window
another snowy view
another snowy view
deliveries by ladder outside the building
deliveries by ladder outside the building
private homes in Seoul
private homes in Seoul
residences that are not officetels
residences that are not officetels

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    • profile image

      CL 5 years ago

      Hi there, what are the bills for officetels like? I read from other posts that they are massive. The landlady said that the maintenance and electricity is together but the water and gas is separate. I am afraid the electricity bill might go crazy during the summer. Thanks.

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hi Silvia - sorry I won't be able to personally contact you. But I can tell you this officetel was in the area known as Gangso-gu/ and Banghwa-dong. It is near the very end of Seoul before you go into a neighboring town and is at least an hour's train ride from the center of Seoul. You may want to find out where your internship is and then look for an officetel. Seoul is a massive city!

      There are always regular apartments available throughout the city as well. Hope you find what you are looking for.

    • profile image

      Silvia 5 years ago

      Hi BK! I am going to have an internship in Seoul very soon, but I have to find a place where to live by myself. The officetel you describe sounds wonderful! Would you mind posting which specific part of Seoul these nice officetels were located in? I am having a hard time deciding which part of Seoul to live in. Please reach me at silvia.dab@hotmail.it Thank you!

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Janel - this was all arranged and paid for by the Seoul Department of Education because I taught in their school system. I don't know if there is a website for rentals. This location is a good hour from the center of Seoul - while their mass transit system is excellent you may want to be closer to the heart of town.

      If you are planning a short stay I would recommend you do a search for a broker in Itaewon (ee-tay-won) - this is because Itaewon is where an American military base is located, English is commonly spoken and many friends of people in the military come to visit and stay for a month or so - especially during the summer - and look for just such places.

    • profile image

      Janel 5 years ago

      hey there,

      where exactly is this officetel and which website can I go to rent this? I'm planning to stay in Korea for 3 months. :)

      Could you email me? - jankliciouz@gmail.com

      Regards,

      Jan

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      You're very welcome. Have fun!

    • profile image

      oregonlove 7 years ago

      Gam sa ham ni da!~~

      Thank you so much!

      Cheers

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hello oregonlove - first I'd recommend you find a place near where you are working. Seoul is a massive city - and because I worked in this area which is last stop on the purple line (Banghwa-dong) - I was provided an apartment near by. To get to the center of Seoul, say where all the action is, and where I first lived, was at least a one hour subway ride.

      In this area (Banghwa-dong)there were many officetels - two - an Airview 1 and Airview 2 - I only remember them because a writer above inquired. Mine and my friend's in the building next door, I don't remember the names. But there seems to be quite a few officetels near the local airport known as Gimpo or Kimpo - which was two train stops away.

      When I lived in the center of Seoul in a very expensive area - I don't remember officetels at all - and then my company arranged through a broker to find an apartment - this was in Gangnam-gu. Depending on where you work and decide to live - will determine if officetels are even available.

      Hope your company can help you with this.

    • profile image

      oregonlove 7 years ago

      Hi, I'm having a hard time finding a good officetel in Seoul. My new job starts in January (non teaching) and I was wondering if you could tell me what officetel this is if you don't mind.

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hello Meghan, I think one of my US colleagues lived in Airview 2. And yes, I had a membership in the gym. The cost depends on what you want - I also signed up for yoga (the best teacher then) and bellydancing (great but tough)so I paid more.

      If you look at my picture again - my Officetel had Dunkin Donuts on the first floor and a few steps away is the train Station. If you walk over to that train station and look across the street - to the left is a supermarket and to the right is a building - in that building is the gym. When I lived there, there was a large store on the first floor of the gym building selling salt rock lamps - it may still be there. Please let me know if you find it. There was an excellent beading teacher in the area with a great storefront shop, and a super jjimjilbang (spa). Have a great time.

      It really was convenient. I tell you mulberry1, the S. Korean people enjoy a very high standard of living. This was considered such a poor neighborhood but I could not tell - I had so many amenities with one of the best supermarkets and spas and things to do after work, like piano lessons and beading class and knitting studio and the gym and tons of restaurants, super subway etc. and safety.

      It was a great time.

      Thanks so much for writing.

    • mulberry1 profile image

      mulberry1 7 years ago

      Wow, wish I could have lived someplace like this back in my single days. Sounds fun and convenient.

    • profile image

      Meghan 7 years ago

      Hi! Thanks for your article. I just moved to Banghwa, living in Airview 2 Officetel. I'm looking for a gym that's close to my apt. You mentioned a gym on the 9th and 10th floor of some officetel. Which one is it, and how can I find it? Can foreigners use it?

      Thanks!

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      OK Jon Woo I will contact you. Have a fabulous time in Seoul!

    • profile image

      Jon Woo 7 years ago

      Hi BK! I am looking to teach english as a 2nd language in Seoul. The officetel you describe sounds wonderful! Would you mind posting which specific part of Seoul these nice officetels were located in? I am having a hard time deciding which part of Seoul to live in. At present I'm thinking Banpo or Junggye sound great. And I know the Junggye location offers officetels. Plz reach me at kodamatree@gmail.com thanks!

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thank you Alex for the additional information. I've lived in Gangnam-gu and Seocho-gu (which had a very expensive multiplex near the court house, with condo units costing more than a million dollars minimum) so I think I know what you are talking about.

      This type of officetel housing worked out very well for someone like me who was not a permanent resident.

      There is another thing about living in S. Korea, perhaps you can explain it here - (it begins with a 'J') - something about posting a certain amount of money - say around $10,000 and then you are not required to pay monthly rent, per se, but all the other expenses (heat, hot water, cable, maintenance, etc., but when you move you get back the initial $10,000.

      Seoul was a great experience - for so many, many reasons. The kindness and hospitality was sometimes overwhelming.

      Thanks for writing!

    • profile image

      Alex 7 years ago

      by the way Offictel is different then Multicomplex buidling seen in korea. these are more like upto certain floor they are office then above that some are residential condominiums( you see these GangNam province etc) these are different then offitel. Officetel their units are diffent it self individual units are not "Residential homes" unlike ones seen in mulitiplex or multicomplex buildings which are more common in US. good example is in NY. TImewarner tower. in 59th street broadway. first few floors are shops and theaters and office and restaurant then above that its residential condominium.

    • profile image

      Alex 7 years ago

      well not exactly. Officetel is more like BUsiness office yet able to have living function as well. They are very very differnet interms of TAX ( capital gain tax etc) offictel are really not "residential HOME" interms of tax purpose. they are more like a office or business units. so they are deferred from capital gains tax. its popular in korea due to this reason. say if you have one house you live in and offitel( an investing purpose) they treat as you only have one house, no matter how many offitel you have... you get the idea? often they are used for businesses this reason there are certain things you cant have inside of offitel(unless illegally modified) such as bathtub, although you can have shower etc since these are not really HOME interms of building codes. I hope this helps a bit

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks so much GreenThumbLady. It is convenience at its best. And when you order food - it is brought up and served on a tray with real dishes. When you finish you just sit it all outside your door. Tipping is not accepted. I enjoyed a real high standard of living with low taxes. Every apt. comes with a washer as well. Thanks for commenting!

    • GreenThumbLady profile image

      GreenThumbLady 7 years ago from The Beautiful Earth

      OMG! Your officetel is adorable! It is so colorful and perfect like a dollhouse. I LOVE it. And I love that you had all of those things available to you right inside your building. How genius this is! Oh and I love the snowy view you had outside your window. That is a beautiful sight!

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 7 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      This was another one of many great adventures of living in Seoul - and you are right - everything was in my building. And in the building next door - there were other choices - and right across the street one of the best supermarkets and street markets - with another officetel - with a gym, spa, tea room, etc. Everything - including a concierge right at the front door.

      This is an experiment I think you will enjoy! Thanks for writing!

    • profile image

      Personal Concierge 7 years ago

      This looks exciting and full of fun and also sound very interesting. It seems that you have every thing inside your building and you can also write about your experiences. I would love to live in such apartment as i m interested in experimenting new things

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hello adi!

      The company you work for should handle all this for you. In my case it was a school - so when I arrived it was waiting for me. As a result I was not responsible for rent but monthly maintenance expenses, like water, heat and maintenance. Then I paid separately for cable. A real bargain!

      Rent is different in S. Korea. You put up a certain amount of money upfront - but you get it back at the end of your lease - meanwhile you just pay your basic expenses, not rent.

      I did know some people who wanted to find their own apt. and be far removed - so they went to the area known as Itaewon (ee-tay-wahn). Because it is near the US military, English is spoken everywhere and they found a rental agency that handled everything.

      Good luck!

    • profile image

      adi 8 years ago

      where can i find such an officetel?

      i am in seoul now and i can t find contact info

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hi Laura Berwick,

      I had such a great time the years I lived in Seoul. I do hope you are having a great time as well.

      Thanks for writing!

    • Laura Berwick profile image

      Laura Berwick 8 years ago from Seoul, Korea

      This is a great hub BkCreative. I am currently living in an officetel and I had no idea what they were before I got here. It's so good to have information like this for newcomers to Korea to see. I agree with you that they're a pretty great way to live for just one person.

    • BkCreative profile image
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      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      I had such a great time totally immersing myself in such a great culture.

      Thanks for stopping by lindarhea!

    • lindarhea profile image

      lindarhea 8 years ago from S CA

      Sounds like a great experience. I love hearing about living in other countries.

      There must be an adventurer somewhere inside of me. (smile)

      Thanks for your hub, I enjoyed reading it.

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Great idea SweetiePie - I think I will do just that. I had such a great time. The kindness of women was overwhelming.

      I am going to start writing and posting more about Korea and many of my overseas adventures - and add pictures.

      Glad you stopped by!

    • SweetiePie profile image

      SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

      What a wonderful place to live and it sounds as if this would make a good series of hubs, writing about your experiences teaching and living in Seoul.

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Thanks JMS - it was a fun time!

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 8 years ago from Texas

      Very cute!

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hello Einron, I love visiting foreign countries - and as an older woman I am treated like royalty. I so appreciate this respect for elders. I lived in Korea off and on for 3 years - some of the best years of my life.

      And Dear Vicky, The pink was so much fun. It made me feel good every time I came home. I miss Seoul!

      BKC

    • profile image

      Vicky 8 years ago

      That pink room is so lovely!!!! It is better than my room. It looks like the house that I dreamed !! I wanted to live in beautiful kitchen and especially that table!! It looks so beautiful>_< . When I grow up, I will make my house. Especially kitchen and badroom!!!

    • einron profile image

      einron 8 years ago from Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

      It seems quite interesting and full of fun. You dont seem to have any problem at all. Visiting different countries and learning the culture broadens the mind and you learn to love the people as well.

    • BkCreative profile image
      Author

      BkCreative 8 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Hi CA - there was a small grocery store on the 1st floor and right across the street was one of the best fresh food supermarkets in Seoul. I have to say - I spent some of the best years of my life in Seoul - there was just so much to do and see and I enjoyed such a high standard of living!

      Thanks for writing and I am going to visit you right now!

    • christine almaraz profile image

      christine almaraz 8 years ago from colorado springs

      Sounds and looks great. Sounds like you have a little bit of the city inside your building. Only thing your missing is a grocery store and you'd never have to leave:)