When you’ve just moved into South Korea, it might be difficult to understand what is included in your rental fees and how to pay for your utilities. In terms of utilities and maintenance costs, you’ll first  need to fully understand what you have to pay and what you don’t need to pay. In this article, Ziptoss has made a guide for you to have a better understanding of Korean housing, rentals, and utility fees when you’re living in South Korea.

Utility fees

Utility fees will depend on your housing type, and is usually measured per ”pyeong” or Pyeong(equivalent to 3.3 meters). Officetels has the highest utility bills because the building has more activity, since the rooms are used for commercial purposes, it uses more electricity than the other buildings.

Building services (such as cleaning services, elevator use, public toilets, etc.), and maintenance fees for Officetels is also higher. The cheapest maintenance costs are villas and studio apartments, because the scope of services is much smaller (no security, sometimes without elevators, etc.).

Management or maintenance fees

The maintenance fee(gwanlibi) is a monthly fee that covers specific utilities and services of the building. It is difficult to give an accurate definition, because sometimes it includes water and electricity costs, and sometimes only the use of building services, such as general management costs, cleaning costs, disinfection costs, elevator maintenance costs, heating costs, hot water costs, etc. Sometimes there is no maintenance fee at all, so this should be written on the lease to make it clear for the tenant. If the utility fee is included in the maintenance fee, it should be written as “gwanlibipohamnaeyeog”(Management/ maintenance fee included). For example, if you see water and internet next to “gwanlibipohamnaeyeog”, this means that you don’t have to pay for them separately, but you still need to pay for other utilities, such as gas and electricity.

All lease conditions are individualized and you must discuss with the homeowner and real estate agent in advance. You should also specify the payment method in advance, but in most cases, it is paid directly to the landlord together with your monthly rent. If your college provides you with free housing, please ask your employer if you need to pay administrative expenses(관리비) and the amount before moving in. If you rent a house by yourself, please check the conditions carefully, because in some cases, the building maintenance fee can sometimes exceed KRW 500,000. 

How to compute your utility fees

Fixed fee (depending on the region, city, and your housing type) + consumption tax + 10% value-added tax(VAT) + a small percentage of surcharges (about 0.04%, depending on the region, city, and room type) = Total amount of utility fees. This usually includes your water, electricity and gas fees.

Where to pay utility fees  

Here are a few options on where you can pay your utility fees:  

  • Bank visit. If you have a lot of time, you can choose this as an option but if you have a tight schedule, you’ll have to consider other options.
  • Online transfer. This is the best option for those who do not have enough time. Be sure to set up an online banking account first.
  • ATM. You can simply go to any ATM, insert your card and select “Account transfer”, then select a bank and provide the information needed(account number and amount) to pay your fees.