Thursday, June 21, 2007

Fear and Loathing in Seoul

I try to avoid going to Seoul whenever possible and I think there are more than a few bloggers and readers out there that share my feelings (Nomad? can I have an "amen"?). Unfortunately, the US Embassy no longer has a mission in Busan, so from time to time, I have to pay a visit to Seoul to renew passports, register children, have some Thai food, etc.
I suppose if I were still single (or at least childless) I could probably stomach it a little easier. After all, Seoul does offer a variety of things that are not easily available here in Daegu. But since I have children, it becomes necessary for me to do the single most onerous thing that a father can do with his children. Drive to and in Seoul!
Unless all the drivers I saw were from out of town for some strange reason, I fail to understand why anyone would want to drive in Seoul. After all, the subway system is top notch and covers most of the important parts of the city. Everywhere I went, what should have been a 10 minute drive turned into an hour of 4-wheeled insanity. There is no WAY, I would do that every day.
I was pushing my son around in his stroller and I ambled past a real estate agency and just like back in Daegu, the windows were covered with advertisements for area apartments. I noticed a sign advertising the same apartment complex where we were staying with my wife's relatives and the price: 300,000,000 won!! Then I thought, "OK, this IS Seoul, I should expect things to be more expensive right?" Then I noticed the top of the advertisement: JeonSe (Key money deposited for rental NOT ownership)!!! and I realized that this amounted to almost twice the cost of my own equally sized apartment back here in Daegu. I later learned that the same midsized apartment in MokDong would have cost almost double that for purchace. Ladies and gentlemen, that is almost 600,000 USD (if you include closing costs and remodeling, etc. that must be done) for a 15 year old, 1140 Square Foot, Second floor apartment. So, I just thought, let's just see what I could get if I had that much money back home in Knoxville.
Single Family Property
Status: Active
Area: 117
Age: 4 year(s) old
4 total bedroom(s)
3.5 total bath(s)
3 total full bath(s)
1 total half bath(s)
10 total rooms
Approximately 3400 sq. ft.
Two story
Style: Traditional
Master bedroom
Living room
Dining room
Master bedroom is 17X14
Living room is 13.5X11.5
Dining room is 16X12
Kitchen is 25X13
Tennis court(s)
3 car garage
Heating features: Central
Central air conditioning
Interior features: Breakfast area, Cable TV avail., Dishwasher, Disposal, Microwave, Pantry, Range and oven, Washer/dryer hookups
Exterior features: Elect. srvc avail., Level lot, Patio, Porch, Tennis court
Approximate lot is 106X165 Located on a cul-de-sac
Call me a redneck if you please, but I'll take that over a box of concrete any day I can.
Here's another tack, if you have an apartment outside the metro Seould area but you worked in the downtown area, you would probably spend an hour or two in traffic each way and spend a fortune in gas, not to mention the toll taken from your health due to stress. How about selling your 32 pyeong (1140 sq. ft.) Seoul Suburban box and moving to Daegu. Buy a brand new 60 pyeong (2134 sq. ft.) box in the best part of town, 5 minutes from the KTX and take 30 minutes a day off your commute, save gas, save the planet, save your sanity, go fishing, commune with nature sans the hour drive to get there. While you are at it, with the money you have saved on gas and medical bills, you can buy a nice car or two to tool around in.