Planning to study or work abroad in Seoul this year, and wondering where is the best place to live to enjoy both your student, social, and travel life?
One assumption, especially with students, is that it would be best to live as close as possible to the university they will be attending. While this does have it’s obvious benefits, our experience and the experience from our student tenants speaks to otherwise.
For those looking for the ideal area in Seoul to live while studying in the city, Noksapyeong/Itaewon area may be just that location.
Here are 7 of the top reasons why the Noksapyeong area, is our top pick:
1. Central location and convenient access to most schools and sites
First I’d like to clarify that when I refer to the Noksapyeong area, I am referring to neighborhoods closest to Noksapyeong subway station. This consists of the Haebangchon, Kyunglidan and Noksapyeong hill neighborhoods.
This area is located in central Seoul, where you have access to several intersecting subway stations (see Noksapyeong station; line 6) and bus routes that will take you to almost every major destination in Seoul.
Here is a list of commonly attended universities and locations, and their estimated transit times (by minutes) below:
(estimates taken from Google Maps and the Seoul Subway iOS app; for buses and subways, add about ~20 minutes for time to walk to and from subway or bus stops to locations)
Being centrally located allows an abundance of relatively short transportation options in every direction of Seoul, and as a result, we’ve had students living with us attending universities across Seoul who say they’ve found it easy to travel to their schools when they need to go to class, and to the fun locations when they want to go out.
2. Mix of Korean and diverse food comforts
The food scene is particularly attractive in the Noksapyeong area. Located walking distance from Itaewon, the US military base, and embassies from over a dozen countries, it seems that the Noksapyeong neighborhood is the hub of restaurants of an increasingly diverse range of ethnicities.
However, I love that the Noksapyeong area also retains its “Korean-ness”, containing alleyways bustling with a mix of old and new Korean restaurants, cafes, and bars, resulting in a wonderful hybrid of the culinary traditions that Korea is known for, and the comforts of your home, whether that means some perfectly chicken masala with naan or a perfect slice of NY pizza and a good craft beer.
3. An abundance of nature (Namsan) is in your backyard
(I casually snapped this photo while on an evening walk in the neighborhood)
Namsan, the popular mountain that houses the Seoul tower is about 10-15 minutes walking distance from you.
Aside from being a beautiful the setting for countless Korean dramas, it also contains several gyms for outdoor exercise, hiking, and awesome views.
Coming from a small town, I especially appreciate being able to retreat to nature in Seoul when I’m feeling like I’m getting too much “city”.
4. Foreign accommodations (clinics, dentists, barbers, etc.)
In addition to foreign restaurants, there are also several other foreigner-friendly institutions, such as doctors, dentists, barbers, etc.
While I’m capable of speaking Korean on a conversational level, there are still a few instances where I switch to English to ensure I’m understood, such as medical centers, and it’s comforting to know that I have access to such facilities nearby.
You’ll find that Seoul is an extremely safe city to get around in, and the Noksapyeong area is no exception. Given the presence of the US military (although a majority of the base has re-located), police stations, and overall lively vibe of the area, I have never once felt unsafe at any hour of being out.
6. Balance of quiet and enjoyment
I’ve emphasized a lot of the fun and nearby enjoyment of the neighborhood, but what really makes this area what it is to me is the balance of quiet with the fun. Certain parts of Seoul feel like there is constant noise and distraction. I personally enjoy having close access to places I can socialize, but I must have my space that is quiet and peaceful to return to.
Noksapyeong certainly provides that, supported by the “community personality”, where you can find many residential streets tucked away into quiet and peaceful nooks, so that when you need to study, sleep, or just unwind, you always have your place to do that.
7. Simple Spaces community
As the Simple Spaces community has grown within the neighborhood, the community itself has become a reason why the neighborhood has felt like such a home. Especially for students who arrive alone, having immediate access to a community of friendly like-minded people can often turn a lovely neighborhood into a home away from home.
If you’re planning to come abroad and would like to ask us about the neighborhood, our community, or homes, you’re welcome to do that by contacting us here.
We look forward to hearing from you!