For many out-of-town students, and even for some from Seoul, finding a place to live during the semester is an essential part of college life. According to a survey done by Albamon, a Website where students search for part-time jobs, 61.5per of 1431 students said they chose to live close to school in order to save time spent on commuting. But the high price of accommodations around Ewha surrounding university is intimidating to many students, especially so during the current economic slump.
Places vary from studio apartments to rooms in houses and prices also vary accordingly. In the Ahyeon-dong area, where several universities are densely situated, house deposits rose from five million won to ten million only in February. In addition, the monthly rent for studio apartments went up by 20 percent from last semester's average cost.
“I was looking for a place to live. But even though I assumed the prices would be high, I could not find anything at the price I was planning to pay,” said one student. “It has always been this costly around universities, but because prices in other areas are all going down, it suddenly seems like a huge burden.”
The development of “new towns” around university areas is one cause of the high prices. Currently, the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) is developing six university areas, including Bugahyeon-dong (Ewha Womans University) and Imun-dong (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies-- HUFS). The initial purpose of the new town developments was to provide more places for university students to stay. However, during development leaves there are fewer places on the market which leads to the increase in prices.
“I looked at every possible place for me to live," said Kang Hyun-jin (HUFS, 2). “But even half-basements were expensive. For students like me who are trying to afford places by themselves, there is nowhere to go.” Kang finally decided to stay at her grandmother’s house, which is almost two hours away from her school.
Kang also shared some of her thoughts on the economics of student living: “Lodging houses are pricy now partly because they all raised the price at once. Most importantly, along with the inflation of food prices the prices of the rooms in lodging houses has to be considered. Hence, prices are expensive.”
Another Ewha student, who lived in the Ewha dormitory for two years, eventually found herself an apartment around the Namdaemun instead of in a university area. “I tried to find a decent place around campus, but rooms around Ewha are expensive and poor quality," said Hwang Yoon-bi (Nutritional Science, 3). “At a lower price, I could find a place with better facilities. Therefore, I decided to move farther away than I expected from school.”
The SMG recently announced that it will help build more dormitories or reduce prices for the welfare of the students. However, students’ distress is still far from being relieved. “It is difficult for students to keep up with rising accommodation prices, adding up with high tuition and living expenses,” said one student who wished to be anonymous. “I personally believe that there should be reasonable solution for this suffering many students are going through.”