Moving House Korea Style

The Korean’s really do know how to get things done. I was walking up the street yesterday to meet Amelia for coffee and I just had to stop and watch the event unfolding before my eyes – house movers!

Korea is one of the most densely populated countries in the world and so the majority of people live in apartments. Korean apartments tend to be small, based on western standards, but small is great when you live alone. Korea was rebuilt rapidly after the Korean war and the chronic shortage of housing meant that the quickest way to alleviate it was to build complexes of identical apartment buildings and you see these all over the country. The newer developments have green space and areas set aside for children to play, but many of the older complexes don’t have these advantages and they a very utilitarian looking buildings.

A Typical Apartment Complex

I live in what is considered a very small apartment block in Osan, there are three floors above ground, and one below, but four levels is small here. There are also only five apartments per floor in my building and it is called a villa complex. Many apartment blocks are 20 to 30 floors and the complexes range from 5 to 20 buildings clustered together, with up to 15 apartments per floor. I walk past a number of these complexes when I go to the local supermarket and they really do look like filing cabinets of human lives, although these are newer complexes and the have tried to make them look a little attractive and the grounds are really nice. There is a beautiful park area in the complex at the end of my street and NiNi likes to play there.

Korean’s like to get things done fast (when it suits them!) and having to wait causes them grief and moving house is no exception, it is done with speed and efficiency. They use what they call a portable elevator which is just a crane with a platform that runs up and down. The largest window in the apartment is removed and the crane aims its boom at the window and the process begins. A team load the platform out from the window and it is lowered to the team below that unload it into the truck! OHS is not a consideration here and so we wont even begin to discuss it, suffice to say that the procedure seems to work extremely well and the cost is not that high. It’s certainly a lot cheaper than I have ever seen anywhere else, and a lot quicker.

Out the window it comes!

When Amelia moved from Osan she had to pay for her furniture to be moved back to the school for storage and although her apartment was also in a small block, she was on the fourth floor, they used the same process, just a smaller crane and it cost her about $AUS200 for the removal and the transportation cost. Given that it cost me $AUS150 to hire a budget truck to move my stuff into storage, and I had to throw myself on the mercy of friends to help with the lifting both ends, I think the Korean system is great!

Moving House Korea Style

2 Responses to “Moving House Korea Style”

  1. Wow, that really is truly amazing!!! Thank you so much for posting this up. I too am a kiwi (gal) trying to find out as much as I can before moving there from Brisbane Australia. Still working out whether I should stay there on a tourist visa or stay longer. Let’s just say I’m a total random musician who has always had a fascination with Asia and want to begin my journey with Korea. Do you recommend any cities? Is it hard to find work other than teaching english? Advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Terry

    • Hi Terry
      sorry for the delay in replying – life can get insanely busy here! Its almost all been playtime, but I have not been diligent enough in getting back to my blog.

      Korea is a great place to spend some time, and I believe the music scene here is huge, but its not an area I know a lot about I am afraid. Still, some time on the internet will resolve that for you.

      As far as visas go, I am here on a teaching visa, an E2, which means that you have a contract before you enter the country, but there are many people that come here on a visitor visa and then elect to stay. Immigration are very helpful here, and if you did find work then your employer would help you with getting the change of visa status organised. Again, there is oodles of info about visa types for Korea on the internet.

      Korean people are very kind, and very helpful, in the main. My employer, as you know, went to a lot of trouble to get my visa issues sorted out after the initial fiasco, and the immigration staff were wonderful too. So if you do want to work, and find some, there should be no problems.

      Seoul is a very exciting city, but there are many great places to visit once you are here. Korea is a very small country, land mass wise, and its pretty easy to get around. Public transport is fantastic and you can generally get a subway, a metro train, or an intercity train to most main centers and then use the local bus system. There are also a huge range of direct buses that travel about between centers. All of this is also incredibly cheap especially when compared to NZ and Australia. A first class seat on the super high speed train train from Seoul to Bussan, right at the bottom of Korea (and their riviera area), will set you back about $AUS25. Its a three hour trip by KTX, almost 7 hours by bus.
      I really love living here so perhaps I am a little biased, but I would say – GO FOR IT – its a great adventure!
      Hope this helps!

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