Seoul - Post Report Question and Answers

What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing is on a mostly-empty US military base. The embassy housing area will remain in use until new apartment style housing is built (estimated completion date of summer 2026). The on base housing are ranch-style duplexes. They are spacious with nice yards. The base is located in the middle of the city, with lots of restaurants, shops, and activities nearby. Traveling from the housing area to the gate takes time (a car is recommended), but once you are off base, it is easy to catch a bus or train. - Mar 2022

Nearly all embassy personnel live on a former Army base. The Army left in 2018 and the embassy decided not to follow them out. In my opinion, Seoul simply has the worst housing situation I've ever encountered. The three pedestrian gates (20-45 minute walk away) remain open but will be closing before summer 2022. There is only one gate open for vehicles. Deliveries on base are not allowed. There are no stores for basics/groceries near the gates. The simplest of errands require driving out (into a city with excellent walking and public transport) and paying for parking. If this were a normal situation, with housing in the city, you could easily grocery shop and run errands within blocks of where you lived. It's my understanding that Embassy personnel will continue living here for at least four more years. Bottom line: in my opinion, don't consider coming to Seoul until at least 2025 when housing will be off-base. Even then, confirm that new housing is in operation before bidding. - Nov 2021

Housing is all on base.It ranges in size from two bedrooms up to maybe five. The housing is big and functional, but (in my opinion) also old and ugly. Overall, the housing is not the issue. The issue is living on a base with very few services (px closed, gas station closing, commissary closing, all entertainment and restaurants closed or closing). Normally I am a proponent of shopping/spending time outside of the bubble and Seoul has a lot to offer here. Unfortunately, it is a 30-50 minute walk just to get off base, which is not pleasant in the summer or the winter due to weather. I love Seoul and I love Korea. There is so much to do, but I just think the base situation is terrible. - Feb 2020

DOS personnel live on base. DoD personnel get LQA and find their own housing. DoD gets the better end of the deal. Most people live in luxurious high rises with lots of amenities. Single family homes are rare unless you live in a rural area or out near Pyeongtaek. I was a single person with a 4 bedroom penthouse apartment. - Feb 2016

Currently, most housing is on Yongsan Army Base. This is changing as the base moves toward closing. Also, if you are not State, likely there will be no room for you on base. We live in a great apartment on the 36th floor, with a view of the Han River. We love it! On base, you have mostly stand alone housing, with the attendant mowing and raking of leaves. My commute to work is 25-35 minutes by subway. The same drive runs anywhere from 20 minutes to nearly an hour depending on traffic. From base housing there is a shuttle. Housing on the local economy can be found at any range of prices and sizes. You have to use a real estate agent for rentals. - Feb 2016

Housing on base is small but not bad. There are front and back yards, so it is great for families with kids. - Jul 2015

Embassy compound on the base. Houses are okay. Nothing special. It is great to have a yard for the kids and access to the base sports programs for the kids. Of the three places we have lived, this is the smallest house we have been in. - Feb 2015

Apartment living off-post (Embassy housing at Yongsan is a community of houses with yards on the Army post in its own section). Apartments are small near Yongsan Army base but very modern and generally nice. They are more spacious further away. We stayed in Park Towers and loved it. - Jan 2014

Apartment in Kangnam. It was a 1 bedroom with laundry equipped. Commuting takes about half an hour from here to the Embassy. - Sep 2013

High rise apartment buildings are scattered throughout the city. The Embassy compound consists of post-war era duplexes, in a serene neighborhood with plenty of trees. Although it would be much more exciting to live off base, green grass for kids and dogs is a rarity in Seoul. - Jan 2011

Terrible embassy housing, drafty, all clustered on an Army base, not close to public transportation. Very well maintained, however. - Dec 2010

The US Embassy housing compound is typical government block compound units built about fifty years ago. While they aren't that dynamic architecturally, they are comfortable with reasonable amenities and nice yards, typically. GSO is VERY responsive and friendly here. Expats in Seoul working for multinationals live close to the military base and, if there housing allowance allows it, may find very upscale housing with nicely designed interiors with yards. Most Seoulites live in the literally thousands of high rises around the metropolitan area. Some are made for the pages of Architectural Digest while some, at least on the outside, could be a slum in any rundown neighborhood in the world. Design is better here as Seoul will be designated the Design Capital of the World in 2010.Developers have their work cut outfor them to undo the aesthetic misfortune created by their predecessors in the 1970s and 80s. - Sep 2009

Single family duplex housing on a military compound. Commute time to Embassy is about 15-25 minutes. - Jul 2008

One story ranch style duplex homes on the army base in a shady, tree lined compound. It's very safe for kids and quiet. The houses are modest but adequate and most have nice yards. The quiet park like compound is the best part of this post. Commute time is about 15-20 minutes to the Embassy, but traffic is bad. - May 2008

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