The 24-month lease term is the standard but it is possible to secure shorter lease terms such as 12 months. Terms for less than 12 months are possible in many cases for studio and one bedroom units in Seoul. Also, outside of Seoul lease terms, depending upon location, can be more flexible than Seoul itself. For example, owners in Ulsan (large industrial city) have been flexible regarding shorter terms, providing furnishings, etc. as of late. However, some points to keep in mind for shorter lease terms in Seoul are the following. 

Important Points for Shorter Lease Terms

  1. The monthly rental rate for a property under a 12-month lease term will be higher compared to that of the rate for the same property under a 24-month lease term.
  2. Typically, no early termination clause is provided in 12-month lease terms although it may be possible to secure a 9 or 10-month break clause. 
  3. The selection of properties is reduced as many owners will still prefer the standard 24-month lease term. 
  4. If furniture is required then the selection will be further limited and the amount of furniture allocation costs (in addition to the base rental rate) will be required to secure the required items. 

For shorter periods of assignment there are serviced residence options in Seoul which do not require a deposit. Payments can be made on a month-to-month basis and the single monthly payment is inclusive of all costs. No separate monthly utility and management fee charges are required.

In addition, lease term of 36-month is also possible, but typically not preferred by most client companies because of the large sum of money required as advance payment. For your reference, the standard expat rental method in Seoul is to pay the total rent for the full term of the lease up front. This rental method is preferred in expat areas such as Itaewon, Hannam and French Village. Outside of those expat areas, key money plus monthly rent is preferred as many locals are used to that key money system.

For more information about housing in Seoul, please look into our other posts here, Housing Market in Seoul Korea: Brand New ApartmentRenting an apartment to expats in Korea.