Finding and Staying at a Seoul Goshiwon

Ace Residence Seoul

Image Source unknown. Ace Residence Sinchon (aka. my old home!)

If you’re looking for a cheap and affordable place to stay in Seoul, be it for one night or one year, goshiwons make a great budget option!

Goshiwons are places offering small rooms, usually located in the more studenty areas of town like Shinchon, Hongdae, Ehwa, Seoul National Station etc.

A goshiwon will usually offer renters a small room with a desk, chair and cupboard for about 15,000-25,000 won/night (short-term) or 300-600,000 won/month (long-term).

Almost all of them will also offer free rice and kimchi for you to eat (and instant noodles and eggs too in the nicer places!)

 

Staying at a goshiwon

Staying at a goshiwon is a pretty unique Korean experience. The likelihood of bumping into Westerners isn’t that high and most of the people you meet will probably be Koreans living or working full-time in Seoul.

Having said that though, I do think that that can be a pretty unique experience to have and given that it is usually the locals who have knowledge of what’s going on in and around town, getting to know them a little better might just help you find a hidden gem or two.

The best time to meet people staying at the goshiwon will be in the evening when everyone is cooking dinner in the kitchens.

People tend to be pretty shy about their English, you might need to be the one to strike up the conversation, but I’ve found that people are usually pretty friendly and willing to talk once the ice is broken.

Kevin Brenneman made an informative little video about Goshiwon living a while back, which you can take a look at below.

How to find a goshiwon?

If you are already in Seoul, the easiest way to find a goshiwon will be to just walk around and look out for the goshiwon/one room/ livingtel signs (고시원/ 원룸/리빙텔) in the area you’re interested in staying at.

You can usually just walk in and ask directly if they have any rooms free and then take a look around and decide if you like it.

Sometimes there will also be flyers hanging around with addresses and numbers for you to call (though I suggest knowing some Korean or getting a Korean friend to ring the owners in this case as a lot of the owners are pretty poor at English.)

If you’re not in Seoul yet, then the easiest thing to do is to go on the Seoul Craigslist website. This used not to be an option, but as of recently, a number of places have started advertising there in the rooms for rent section.

Just send the owners an email stating the dates you’d like to stay and see if they have any vacant rooms. Make sure they have blankets and pillows for you to use during your stay and also agree a set price beforehand.

Don’t pay anything in advance so you don’t get scammed and make sure you take what you need to pay with you in cash, as it is unlikely they will be able to take card payments.

Useful Seoul Goshiwon Sites

I haven’t personally used these sites, as I usually find my goshiwons through the methods described above. The sites below are all in English though, which definitely helps if you don’t know any Korean!

HABANG – This site lists goshiwons and hasookjibs. Hasookjibs tend to be around the same price as goshiwons, but will usually have Korean style breakfast and dinner included which is cooked by the resident ajumma (older Korean lady/ house mommy). However, these are usually less likely to let you stay short-term.

GOSHIPAGES – This site is actually intended for students coming to Korea to study and staying long term, but if you search for where you’d like to stay (you can search either by the nearest subway station or university) then you can see that some places allow a minimum stay of 7 days.

Top tip: I wouldn’t take minimum stay requirements too seriously as whilst some landlords do stick adamantly to them, there are plenty of others who will be happy to rent out a room just for a couple of days.

 

 

 

Need some more advice on travelling to Seoul on a budget? Check out these 7 top tips on how to get the most out of your trip without spending a bomb! 

17 thoughts on “Finding and Staying at a Seoul Goshiwon

    • rjunkie says:

      Hi there,

      I would ask that you to contact the Habang site directly for any information regarding its owner as I am in no way affiliated to the site. The email for them is seoul@habang.co.kr.

      As to renting a oneroom Goshiwon for 2 people. Usually a goshiwon (if available) will offer a double room for dual occupancy. These are slightly more expensive than the single rooms.

      When my mom came to visit, the goshiwon I stayed at previously offered me a dual room for 450,000/month at a discount as I had been there a while. It was meant to be around 550,000 at standard price though, if I remember correctly.

      Hope that helps!

  1. fifi says:

    I need help. I am going to be fall 201 exchange student to HUFS. I need somewhere cheap to stay. Gosiwon seems like that.well, I can pay 180-200at my best. My priority is its price.

  2. Jennifer Nguyen says:

    Hi,
    I noticed you mentioned that you stayed in the double room with your mother. That is the one I wanted. Was the room spacious enough for two? Were there any issues with the building in particular?

    • rjunkie says:

      It was quite small – It just had a double bed, a little kitchenette and a small toilet in it, but it was good enough for the week my mom was staying. If you’re talking about a long term plan though it really depends on how cosily you like to live with your mother!

      In terms of the building itself, I never had any issues at Ace. It was very safe and the owner was a real sweetheart. I’d have no concerns there 🙂

      • Jennifer Nguyen says:

        Thanks for the reply! I just have one last question. Through Goshipages, they asked for a 100,000 won reservation fee, was this the same for you? Or should I try my luck and book a goshiwon when I get there?

  3. Elya says:

    Hello! I`m going to be this fall exchange student to SNU. I`m serching some cheap ways to stay near my campus. I hope I can rent goshiwon for 190.000-200.000 won. Is it possible?

    • rjunkie says:

      Hi there,

      Sorry this is a little late. 190-200,000 is a little on the low end so it probably won’t be the best of the best place. It should still be possible to find places around that price range though. I had a friend stay in a place near Sinchon a while back who was paying 180,000.

  4. Sereena Spencer says:

    My Korean friends say to never live in a Goshiwon. They said they are horrible places and that the pictures they show are not what they are. I know your video was from forever ago, but can you tell more more about them. Like how the rooms are, how tidy the places are and if the walls are thin.

    • rjunkie says:

      Hi Sereena,

      It really depends on the place – as with a lot of things there are good and not so good Goshiwons around. Before choosing one, I would suggest going to visit a few places if you can (or getting someone to go for you). Each one will differ in terms of quality, price and what you do and don’t get included in your rent (i.e. rice, eggs, kimchi, side dishes etc.).

      In general, the places that I’ve seen have been pretty nice, but I did wonder into one or two places which were run down, minimal heating, no food, no washing powder etc. too.

      If you go to a better goshiwon then you will find the hallways and common areas to be absolutely pristine and cleaned every day. They are really nice places to stay – no issues at all.

      In less classy goshiwons there is less cleaning going on, so the common bathroom, shower and kitchens tend to be the places you want to check out first. You’ll see when you get there whether or not it’s been cleaned or not as the toilets in particular will be a little smelly if the toilet paper has been left in the bins too long, or the shower will smell a little funky from not being cleaned or the kitchen may have a few dishes left in the sink, which you wouldn’t normally see elsewhere.

      In terms of the walls being thin – that I will agree with. Goshiwon rooms are built next to each other, are quite small and the walls do tend to be quite thin. Having said that though, I’ve never had an issue with people being rowdy in the places I stayed. As a lot of inhabitants work or study, a lot of the occupants will be out most of the time and when they are in they are there to sleep, so the most disturbing thing you are likely to hear is your Korean neighbour talking animatedly to a friend on the phone or so…

      Hope that helps!

  5. Allison says:

    Hi, I’m coming to Korea to teach English. My hagwon provides an apartment but I want to come a few days early to recover from jet lag before I start teaching. So I looked online and found out about goshiwons and they sound perfect if they can be rented for just a few days (probably 4 nights). I’m coming in early June and I’m hoping to find something in Seoul fairly close to the Anglican cathedral (which is next to City Hall I think). Can you recommend a good one (very clean) in that area? 25000 won per night would not be a problem.

    • rjunkie says:

      Hi Allison,

      First off congratulations on taking the step to come to Korea to teach – I hope you have a wonderful experience and it’s all you hope for!

      In terms of a goshiwon near City Hall – I can’t say I have a first hand recommendation, but after a quick search you may want to try shooting these places an e-mail or calling them (they may or may not speak English though):

      Samsung Livingtel
      SingleHouse 21
      City Hall Daewon Goshitel
      Deoksugung Livingtel
      Plaza Livingtel

      I can’t guarantee these places will give you four nights (this is normally based on how free the place is), and I’m not sure how much they would cost, but the monthly cost in these places is reasonable, so I’d imagine they would go for under 25k/night easily.

      If you have any issues contacting them from here though, you could also try just walking into a few places when you get to Seoul and seeing if you can find a deal that way. That’s how a lot of people find accommodation there – the good old fashioned way! Good Luck 🙂

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