The Housing Situation in Korea: The 2010 Update

For Anna living with her mother is hell on earth. We have invited Anna’s mother into our home on several occasions, and it doesn’t take very long before the two of them are snipping at each other.

This is especially true now. As Anna has gotten older she has realized that much of what she had blamed her father for doing to the family was in many ways enabled by her mother, so anger that used to be only directed at her father is now finding itself directed at her mother.

Unfortunately for everyone involved there aren’t that many choices available for us in terms of where Anna’s mother can live. She is not well enough to live on her own. The hospice care which the government provides is only available for four hours a day and 20 hours a week and Anna’s mother needs more supervision than that.

One option would be to put Anna’s brother, Anna’s father and Anna’s mother all in one place together along with the hospice care workers 20 hours a week. The major problem with this solution is that Anna’s mother and Anna’s father hate each other. Anna’s father has never really forgiven his wife for putting him under house arrest for ten years with the Sacred Heart nuns. (Obviously this is something I will need to elaborate on in more detail at a later date).

Anna, however, is leaning towards this option because it would force her brother to take some responsibility; something he is loathe to do. This would allow us to live in one apartment and Anna’s mother, father, and brother to live in the other. The problem is that we need to be out of Jangmonim’s APT by march 1oth and out of our current APT by August 1st. We have the option to buy the apartment we are currently in, but it would cost us $230,000 and that is more than we believe it is currently worth.

Anna looked at a house that is for rent in our neighborhood. She said it was spacious; two bathrooms, a utility room or second kitchen, a real kitchen, a large living room, four bedrooms and a small study. All we need to do is come up with the key money (or deposit). No monthly rent would be involved; however the key money or deposit is $120,000. Sadly we don’t have $120,000 in cash stashed away in our mattresses. We do have about $70,000 tied up in deposit money in the two apartments we are currently renting, so we would need to borrow $50,000 to come up with the key money we would need.

The positive aspect to this is that we would save approximately $800 a month, even after accounting for about $200 a month to service the debt, in rent and maintenance fees between the two apartments, the disadvantage is that it would take all our current cash and then some to get the place which would leave us no money to get a second place for Anna’s mother, father and brother in August.

Personally, I feel that we should go for it. Anna’s mother, father and brother have really become dependent on us; especially Anna’s brother. I think we should take the house. We can stick Anna’s mother, father and brother in the APT we are currently in, use the 60,000 in deposit money we have tied up in Jangmonim’s Apt and another 60,000 we would borrow from bank to get the house. Then bank the extra cash we would save each month so we can pay off the loan in 5 years or 6 years.

Of course Anna’s mother, father and brother would be facing an August deadline to figure out what they are going to do. The path of least resistance for them would to be use the land they’ve been fighting about to either get a loan or sell it so that they can  buy the APT. Knowing Anna’s family they would of course wait until the absolute last minute to make their decision, but in this case this might  actually be a good thing. There is a huge glut of APTs for sale in Korea at the moment, so by August the asking price for this APT should be significantly lower than it is now; thus making it an appropriate investment for Anna’s family.

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