Staying in a Goshiwon
The route I usually take when I walk to Hongdae
This is a long post, but I promise it's worth reading if you are going to stay in a Goshiwon.
Before leaving for Seoul, I did my research and found the cheapest accommodation available for students - a Goshiwon. Sometimes also know as Goshi-tel.
It's kinda like a hostel but not part of the school so I would call it a public hostel. All kinds of people can stay there, students, foreigners, working people and what nots. The cost was between 300,000W to 500,000W per month, depending on the location, amenities and room type. Typically there are common areas like kitchen, dining space, laundry area etc and free flow of rice, ramyun, eggs, kimchi, and in some places - bread.
I didn't want to start looking only when I'm there so I could either book one directly myself, or engage someone who acts like an agent to do it for me. The agent seemed pretty reliable from reviews but I had to pay him about 50,000W as commission.
The stingy me wanted to save money and found one from Goshipages.com called Babi House (바비하우스) at 63, Myeongmul-gil, Seodaemun-gu. The pictures looked pretty decent. I contacted them, made my deposit and I thought I was all set. I THOUGHT.
For the first 3 days in Seoul, I stayed in an air bnb apartment so that I can sort out the Goshiwon accommodation. Thankfully I did that because Babi House screwed things up. When I visited them two days before moving in, they double-booked my room, even though I reminded them I was coming just 2 days before I left Singapore. They offered me a smaller room which wasn't what I had in mind but I decided to take a look anyways. The place was dark and cramped and unlivable! The room was dirty and unlike the pictures at all. Laundry were left to dry along the corridor. There was no lift from level 1 to 3 where they are at, and the stairwell was dark and had no lights too! Imagine coming home at 3am and be scared shit.
I was so frustrated because I suddenly felt like I had no place to live. I didn't quit my job and come to Seoul to live in that kind of place. SO, I decided to call the agent.
He was very professional, he asked me what was my budget, which area I wanted, shortlisted a few places and brought me for viewing. He is Korean and spoke perfect English so we had no problems communicating, and for him to communicate my questions and concerns to the landlord.
I went to a few but I decided to settle with Easy Fine House (이지파인하우스) at Changcheon-dong 서울 서대문구 신촌로 25 이지파인하우스 홍대점 (창천동 503-8). The landlady was super nice right from the start. I wanted to view a few more places before deciding and she was totally okay with me giving an answer by the next day.
The location was great, it was in between Hongdae station (10 mins' walk) and Sinchon station (13 mins' walk) although it was about 15 mins walk to Yonsei's main gate and another 15 mins to the KLI. It was super hot in the beginning (it was the end of summer) but the walks got better towards early autumn when the weather got much cooler.
With my minimal Korean, I was able to communicate with the landlady and she often gave me snacks like fruits, yoghurt, and during Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving), she gave me traditional glutinous rice cake. She was really nice and helped me whenever I had requests.
There was freeflow of rice, kimchi, ramyun, eggs, cold and hot water. Some days she makes different stews like kimchi or tofu stew, seaweed soup, fried pork, curry etc for everyone to share. I saved a lot of money eating the food she made. Some days I would stock up on canned tuna, seaweed flakes and add them to rice and egg and it would make a great meal!
Easy Fine House had 2 levels of rooms. I stayed at the level that was unisex, and where the kitchen and washing machines were. There was a rooftop where everyone can dry their clothes (where I spent many days waiting for my rooftop prince HAHA). Around the building there were 2 marts, a few cafes and a few restaurants. It's along the road so there are no dark alleys you need to navigate through if you go home late at night. I ALWAYS walk home (sometimes as late as 4am) whenever I party or drink at Hongdae. It's very safe.
It's really an amazing place and I would highly recommend it.
Here's a picture I took on the day I moved it. I didn't take any photos after decorating but it's livable and self sufficient. My room had a wardrobe, bed, small window, tv, a small table for studying, toilet, my own fridge and cost around 400,000~450,000won per month. My landlady gave me a discount because my rental started towards the end of the holiday season when most students would already have firmed up their accommodation plans so I was really blessed.
and that's me hanging clothes at the rooftop.
Hope this post has been helpful!