Since many people lease their home in Korea, moving many times within one’s lifetime is quite common. There are various levels of moving services to fit your needs. These can include full service pack, move, and unpack services as well as the basic moving of your belongings you have self-packed. You can also find companies that can clean your old residence when you move out and your new residence before you move in. Apartments may not be thoroughly cleaned after the old tenant moves out. Check with your new building owner if the apartment will be cleaned and also check with your old building owner to determine if you are responsible for cleaning it before moving out (or responsible for paying a cleaning fee).
Moving out of an old residence
Make sure to take care of anything that may need repair or service according to the terms of your lease before you move out. You will also need to settle any outstanding utility bills.
If you would like to donate items you no longer need when you move - below are a few places where you can donate goods within Korea. You may also find donation bins at large apartment complexes or officetels.
아름다운가게 (www.beautifulstore.org) - locations all over Korea
Goodwill (http://www.goodwillsongpa.org/) - located in Seoul
Salvation Army Thrift Stores (http://www.nanumistore.org/eng/main.html) - located in Seoul
Moving Services & Costs
Costs will depend on a variety of factors:
Distance from old residence to new residence (Within the same city, intercity, etc)
Weight/Amount of belongings
Determines the truck size
Amount of people needed
Possibly the day on which you want to move
Extra equipment needed (i.e. ladder-lift truck)
If you are able to help with the lifting, loading, and unloading
Cleaning Service (청소 서비스)
Cleaning service depends on the size of your apartment and how much you want cleaned (i.e. only the bathroom, only the kitchen, or the whole apartment). Some offer cleaning services for your washing machine, air conditioner, and other appliances. If you have a small one-room apartment expect to pay anywhere from KRW 50,000~KRW 150,000. Larger residences can start from KRW 200,000+.
Standard Moving Service
You are responsible for packing up all of your belongings and also unpacking them at your new residence. The movers will take all of your packed belongings, load them onto a truck, and deliver them to your new residence. Perhaps the cheapest arrangement would be having all of your belongings packed and streetside when the movers arrive and not requiring the movers to take your belongings up to your actual unit but drop them streetside in front of your new building instead. Be sure to confirm with the moving company exactly what service they are providing. This can start as low as ~KRW 60,000 for a one-room but increases with distance and the weight of your belongings. For example, one quote from Sinchon to Sindaebang was KRW 60,000 but from Sinchon to Jamsil was around KRW 75,000. A lot of smaller moving jobs use these types of trucks:
Packing (포장)/Unpacking (정리) Service (서비스)
The movers will pack everything you have in your current residence and then unpack it at your new residence (this includes staging your belongings like arranging your plates in your kitchen and hanging up your clothes in your closets). This is in addition to moving everything from your current residence and delivering it to your new residence. The rate will depend on how much you have to pack/unpack. For example, if you needed a large 5 ton truck to move an entire apartment - moving a short distance maybe KRW 700,000, a longer distance could be as high as KRW 900,000 for the packing/unpacking service.
Ladder-lift Trucks (사다리 차/트럭)
If you are moving to a high rise apartment building it may have an elevator but in order not to monopolize the elevator and to minimize possible damage to the building and your belongings, ladder-lift trucks are often used. Besides, large apartment buildings do not always have freight elevators and the normal elevators are not usually very wide or tall. These trucks lift your belongings up the ladder track to the window outside your new apartment. Either your windows are removed to accommodate your furniture and belongings or they are simply opened. If you are in need of such a truck, be sure to tell the moving company in advance. The fee just to have a ladder-lift truck depends on how high you need the ladder to go as well as the weight of your belongings. For example a 5 ton amount going up to the 8th floor would be KRW 100,000. If you had to go to the 25th floor it would be around KRW 370,000.
There are storage options available in Korea however, due to the lack of space in major cities storage facilities may be located far away from city centers. If they are within city limits they may be expensive. Korea uses metric measurements for area so units will be in meters and metric tons. For example, storing one ton of goods for one month would be around KRW 120,000.
Moving into a new residence
Before the movers arrive, take pictures of your old residence and your belongings. This way you can prove the state of both before the movers arrive in case damage happens to either your old residence or your belongings. Also, take pictures of the state of your new residence the day you move. This way, you can prove something was broken or in need of repair before you moved in and you didn’t cause it. This is also helpful in the case the movers cause damage to your new residence.
Check your utility meters and take a picture of the current reading. You can check with the landlord and utility company to make sure the bill has been paid up until your move date. Therefore you won’t have to pay for a whole month of service if in the case you moved in at the end of the month.
Furnishing Your New Home
There are many ways to furnish your new home. Online shopping is very popular in Korea and many vendors also sell furniture. Department stores (Shinsegae, Hyundai) and large supermarkets (E-Mart, Lotte Mart, HomePlus) also carry a variety of goods. However, if you are shopping on a budget and need furniture and appliances, I recommend searching for used ones. Below are some options for furnishing your new home (English/한국어).
Online shopping (인터넷/온라인 쇼핑몰)
Used <Furniture> (중고 <가구>)
Department stores (백화점)
Discount stores (할인점)
Before your moving day, it is best to get a quote and signed contract to reduce the likelihood of inflated prices the day of your move. If possible, have the movers visit your current home (and if possible, your new home) to give an accurate estimate of the services you require.
While tipping is not really part of Korean culture, if the movers have to go up and down a lot of stairs or work over a meal time, a small tip and some refreshments are appreciated.
Some days are considered ‘lucky’ by the lunar calendar and will therefore be busier for movers. Try to avoid these days or, if you follow this belief, book on these days.
Watch the weather forecast (일기예보) around when you want to move as to not run the risk of your belongings getting soaked by rain or blown away by wind. (Especially important if using a high rise ladder/elevator truck)
For further questions about moving in Korea, contact the G.O.A.’L Community Mentor!