Officetel vs. Villa
Teaching English in Korea is an exciting adventure. However, the idea that you will not know exactly where you will be living can be a big source of trepidation. South Korea offers a diverse array of housing styles, but officetels and villas are two of the most popular housing types for English teachers in Korea. While your local branch often handles accommodation arrangements, let’s explore these two popular types of housing for English teachers in Korea.
Officetels: The Modern Living Solution
Officetels, blending “office” and “hotel,” are often compact living spaces in large apartment-style buildings that combine residential and commercial functions. These multifunctional units offer a unique living experience. They are particularly well-suited for urban areas. Officetels offer so much convenience in their close proximity to public transportation, shops, and amenities. In bigger cities, officetels may even come fully furnished (though you should be informed that some teachers might have to furnish apartments themselves).
In South Korea, some officetels feature a unique split-level design with added space above the main area, accessible via stairs. This design separates functions like a loft, workspace, or storage area. Modern and efficient, officetels maximize comfort in limited space. Officetels are also typically very modern and efficient, and allow you to maximize the use of limited space without compromising comfort.
Villas: Traditional Comfort
Villas in Korea vary widely in size and style. You might find yourself in a studio apartment, or a larger family-oriented unit. Villas generally come in various layouts and offer more space compared to officetels. This makes them ideal for couples or those who value larger living areas.
Typically located in residential zones, villas usually provide a quieter, more private living environment. Think of it more as a neighborhood vibe instead of a large apartment complex. Villas are usually in 2-3 floor buildings. You also won’t lose creature comforts as convenient stores, local drycleaners and other services are always within a few blocks.
Pros and Cons
Depending on your contract type, you may have a choice in where you live. In other contract situations, you will be provided a place to stay by your local branch. Regardless what option you choose, you can be confident that your housing will have pros and cons, just like anything else in life! Regardless, both villas and officetels fulfill modern living needs.
Tour Of My Place
Here are some pictures of my officetel. I was placed at the Sejong location, where the entire town was built in just the past several years, so it is very unique in that it was built just a year before move-in. That being said, most officetels are built in the last 20 years, so compared to other developed countries, all buldings are very new.
The door lock operates using a pin pad system, which is fantastic because you won’t have to worry about losing your keys. The unit covers 92 square meters and provides generous storage space. You’ll also find built-in appliances like a refrigerator and washing machine for added convenience.
As you step inside the apartment, there’s a spot to remove your shoes and store your indoor slippers – a common practice in South Korea. The apartment is also supplied with a fire extinguisher and plenty of shoe shelves.
The closet space feels a bit compact, but you can optimize it by incorporating inserts and utilizing specific hangers to conserve space and maintain order. Additionally, an interesting discovery: the bottom door on the far left is, in fact, a pullout drying rack for clothes!
The wall incorporates a cleverly designed kitchen with a two-burner electric stovetop, a built-in refrigerator and freezer, and cabinets hosting a dish drying rack underneath. Beneath the sink, a knife holder is in place, while above the sink serves for dishes. The space to the right is perfect for arranging food and spices.
Bathrooms in South Korean officetels and apartments are modern and distinct. They frequently showcase open shower areas, advanced bidet functions, and efficient layouts within limited spaces. Some bathrooms even boast natural light, floor heating, and soundproofing. I really appreciated the presence of a bidet in my bathroom.
Bidets are a standard fixture in South Korean bathrooms, whether in officetels or villas. Electronic bidet toilet seats, offering adjustable water temperature, pressure, and air drying functions, are common. Properly ventilating bathrooms is crucial, as expats sometimes note mold issues; however, this problem is typically easy to prevent!
Originally, I used this area as desk space, though later decided to turn it into the TV area. Here is a picture of the space used as a study and work zone. Daiso has lots of creative organizers which can allow you to store more of your things without taking up too much of the working area!
I highly recommend getting some plants. They’re an excellent way to liven up any space and create a homely ambiance. Hanging plants, monsteras, and cacti are fantastic choices that require minimal upkeep!
As you dive into your Korean journey, remember that your apartment is more than just a place to stay – it’s your personal haven. Whether you’re in an officetel or a villa, these unique Korean living spaces offer countless ways to find comfort. From optimizing your kitchen, to adding a touch of nature with easy-care plants, to decorating with photos and friends from home, you can truly make your space your own.
내 집만한 곳은 어디에도 없다!
“There is no place like home!”
Alexandra Skouras is from Pennsylvania, USA, and has been living in South Korea since April 2021. She studied Biology and Spanish during college but decided to embrace her love of travel and cultural diversity through teaching English in other countries. After spending one year teaching in Madrid, Spain, she decided to move to South Korea, and since then has been teaching Chungdahm April in Sejong. Her favorite part about teaching is connecting with students and seeing how much growth they can achieve in just a short period of time. Alexandra describes her Korean life as the perfect mix of comfortable and exciting, and is passionate about encouraging other people to take the leap of faith and try something new.