Gwanak district in southern Seoul, an area of large clusters of one-room flats for students, unsurprisingly has the largest number of homes for monthly rent at 9.31 percent. But a surprise second in the capital is the affluent Gangnam district (6.5 percent), where conventional wisdom would suggest people either live in their own homes or leased luxury condominiums.
Gangnam has not only luxury apartments favored by highly paid foreign expats but also cheap rental units for those who make a lot less. The number of homes for monthly rent in Gangnam was higher than in Mapo (4.25 percent) or Seodaemun (3.68 percent), where some top universities are clustered.
One yoga instructor (26) who lives in a small one-room flat in Gangnam's Nonhyeon-dong said, "I'd end up spending more on commuting if I didn't live close to my workplace." Hong Moon-hee (60), a Gangnam estate agent, said, "Singles in their 20s and 30s who work in Gangnam are increasingly giving up saving money to buy their own homes, so more people look for convenience and opt for monthly rentals despite the high cost."
Another reason is the large number of bars in the Gangnam area. Nonhyeon-dong is packed with bars and many women who work in nightlife businesses live in studio apartments there. One realtor in the area said, "These women sleep all day and go to work at night, so they prefer to live in Gangnam, which close to their work and has a lot of trendy beauty salons. Although preferences may vary, most of them live in studio apartments that cost between W500,000 to W700,000 a month." (US$1=W1,126)
But there are also people who rent luxury homes for millions of won a month. They are usually young entrepreneurs who run their own Internet shopping malls or businesspeople who only spend short periods in town. Wealthy individuals or expats whose housing cost is covered by their employers also choose luxury studio apartments or high-end villas that cost W2-3 million a month.