Finding Housing in Korea: At Home In Hongdae – Charlestel Review


This piece is part of Seoul Guide, a series of posts for foreigners trying to navigate living in Seoul, South Korea

This is a follow-up post for Finding Housing for Study Abroad in Seoul filled with specifics about where I lived for the two months I spent studying Korean and doing research for a human rights course at Sungkyunkwan University this past summer. Since I am no longer in Seoul, I’m comfortable sharing my housing details! Woohoo! 

I stayed at Charlestel. 찰스고시텔 has rooms for short-term and long-term stay, and part of it is reserved for Jam Guesthouse.


Contact/site: /

Location: Hongdae

Address: 서울특별시 마포구 서교동 332-3

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Rent: 450,000 won/month (rent varies: about 400,000~480,000 won based on size of room)

Deposit: 100,000 won

Optional Service Fees: TV, AC usage (TV usage was free for me as a bonus)

Pros: Right on the edge of a lively area and in amazing neighborhood of delicious Japanese restaurants and fantastic cafes; 3 minute walk from Hongdae Station Exits 4, 7, & 8; female-only and male-only floors; rooms renovated in 2015; good WiFi for each floor; CCTV coverage of shared spaces; private mini-fridge, shower & toilet; friendly and helpful front-desk staff; fairly quiet neighbors; cost within budget; front desk staffed from 9AM until late (usually an ahjussi patrolling late at night); coin-operated laundromat on first floor with detergent and dryer sheets for 500 won each; room deposit only 100,000 won and returned as soon as I notified owner I was leaving; local convenience store directly next to building and a GS25 right across the street; 15 minute walk to Sinchon or Hapjeong

Cons: Tiny window, paid 50,000 won extra to use AC during June; laundromat entry from street and fairly expensive (3,000 won per washer load, around 5,000 per dryer load); pricier rent due to size of room and private shower/toilet; no meals provided; tiny shared cooking area on top floor; walls not remotely soundproof (I sometimes could hear the girl in the room next to mine roll over in her sleep); door lock not remotely convincing (but an extra bar for security); few nearby places to eat solo

Alright, now you’re wondering – is this the place for me? This ‘seouldream’ blogger already did all the research and even lived here, so why bother scouring through those awful Korean housing websites at all?

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What, you don’t feel like staring at sites like this for twelve hours?

In spite of the cons, and not only due to the pros I’ve listed above, I recommend Charlestel as a housing option. If you can afford the pricier rent (because yes, there are rooms elsewhere for as low at 180,000/month but the quality respectively drops, or the distance to popular areas vastly increases), you’re getting one of the better options out there. And bonus – their website says they now provide kimchi and rice!

Will your room smell when you first get home because it’s small and enclosed and has a drain connected to everybody else’s dirty water? Yes. Just run the faucet and throw open the window for a bit. Do you have to buy special area-specific trash bags to throw out your trash every week? Yes, but so does every other person in Korea.

Living here made me feel the closest to being a local that I’ve ever felt during the three different times I’ve been in Korea. The autonomy, the solitude, the challenge of living alone in Seoul. I loved it.

읽어 주셔서 감사합니다!


Stepping out of Charlestel after a rainy night


Sleepy Hongdae in the morning


One thought on “Finding Housing in Korea: At Home In Hongdae – Charlestel Review

  1. Pingback: Finding Housing for Study Abroad in Seoul | my {seoul} dream

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