Seoul is an eclectic mix of high-tech buildings and Buddhist temples, a western-style megacity with eastern philosophy. One of the Asian Tigers’ capital, this city experienced unprecedented economic growth and recently became a hub for the entertainment industry.
The city is inhabited by almost 10 million people, making it one of the world’s largest urban areas; it is also one of the most densely populated cities. Seoul is a cultural epicenter of East Asia filled with stark contrasts: it combines ancient tradition and quite conformist society with the cutting-edge technological sector and trendsetting youth culture. Seoul boasts examples of the most revolutionary and experimental architecture and skyscrapers while at the same time hosts numerous districts with low-income high-rise, gray, monotonous apartment buildings. It is a foodies paradise with countless street food vendors, restaurants with fusion cuisine, and Pan-Asian culinary masters. Seoul is a city that never sleeps, where numerous services are offered 24/7 in the vast nightlife districts.
Seoul is frequently referred to as "Miracle on the Han River" due to its key role in South Korean economic development. Despite the fact that Seoul is a post-industrial city with a service sector dominating the city economy, manufacturing companies remain one of the top city employers. That includes flourishing sectors of machinery manufacturing, chemical industry, production of textile and clothing. The construction sector is also big here, filling the inexhaustible need for Seoul apartments for rent. Seoul is one of the biggest players in the sphere of food and beverage production, supplying South Korea with locally-made products, as well as exporting them to neighboring countries. The industrial focus of Seoul is slowly shifting to modern industries such as IT and electronics. For years, the city was also a stronghold of East Asian printing and publishing. A large portion of Seoul's workforce is employed in the service sector. Many international corporations and trade companies choose Seoul for their headquarters. Prominent employers also include insurance, legal, and financial firms. Southern, northern downtown districts, and Yeoui Island are primary locations of banks and major stock exchanges, as well as frequent places of conventions and trade shows.
Seoul has colder weather than cities on the same latitude due to Siberian winds and cold air. For this reason, residents of Seoul live through four distinct seasons. The winters are dry and cold, with temperatures frequently dropping at night below 23°F (-5°C), while days are usually warmer with temperatures just above 32°F (0°C). However, occasional air currents from Siberia drop the temperature below 5°F (-15°C). That’s why if you are considering moving and living in an apartment in Seoul, you should stock up on warm clothes. Spring and fall are the most pleasant times of the year in Seoul since they are usually neither too warm nor too cold. Summer is hot and extremely wet due to the East Asian rainy season, which lasts from June through September and accounts for 60% of yearly precipitation. Temperatures usually oscillate between 68°F and 86°F (20°C and 30°), while rare heatwaves can raise the temperature to 97°F (36°C). Most of the torrential rains fall in July and August, and these months can be something to watch out for.
In the 20th century, Seoul was occupied four times during the Korean War and experienced severe damage. Multiple historic sites and national landmarks were destroyed. While some places of historical interest remained intact, the majority of palaces and temples had to be rebuilt entirely. For this reason, Seoul has a futuristic and modern look, with exceptional infrastructure and spotless streets. The subway system is among the world’s finest and boasts of being the third-largest in the world. It is truly a core of the city since the subway unites multiple far-off neighborhoods in one integrated city. The country’s capital experienced a profound redevelopment in the past 50 years, which wiped out historic low-rise neighborhoods for the needs of the growing population and demand for apartments in Seoul. The face of the city is constantly changing at an incredible pace — some parts of the city seem like an endless construction site.
Seoul is a shopping mecca for tourists from China, Japan, Vietnam, and Taiwan and a key shopping spot for most Koreans. The most popular shopping areas include Namdaemun Market and a much bigger Dongdaemun Market situated in the Jung-gu commercial district. Both of these markets consist mostly of individually-owned shops, artisanal boutiques, and shops with traditional attributes and attires. If you are looking for the authentic Korean vibe —those are places for you. If you search for international brands or local Korean mass-market products, visit the vast department stores and malls in Gangnam-gu, located in the southern part of the city. A great example can be Starfield COEX Mall — Asia’s largest underground mall, which also accommodates an amazing library and aquarium.
Despite Seoul's ancient origins, the city has exceptional urban planning and exemplary road system due to the massive reconstruction and improvement after the Korean War. For centuries, the city's growth was curbed by winding and broad Han river, but the construction of more than two dozen bridges resolved this problem and allowed the southward expansion of the city. A modern system of highways crosses the city from North to South through the city center and from East to West beside the Han River. The city is connected to the myriad of suburban towns and new satellite cities with cheaper houses and apartments for rent through a circular highway road. But, regardless of this profound road infrastructure, the city can hardly manage the daily wave of commuters that flock to Seoul, causing heavy traffic and jams in the inner city. The traffic congestion is partly alleviated by the extensive subway system, which is one of the busiest in the world with 1.9 billion ridership annually. To handle all this load, city authorities constantly expand the subway, and currently, it has 22 lines with 728 stations. The metropolitan subway system is also complemented by light metro, commuter rail, and people mover. The Korean capital is the railway hub that unites it with most of the cities and ports in the country, such as Incheon and Busan. Most of the goods are transported in and out of the city through the system of highways and railways. The major airports that serve Seoul are Gimpo Airport in the western part of the city and Incheon International Airport — the largest airport in the country located 30 miles from the city.
Yongsan is located in the heart of Seoul, jammed between two major business and entertainment districts — Jongno and Gangnam. This neighborhood is an island of tranquility and peace which strikingly contrasts the roaring neighboring districts. Yongsan mostly consists of two-story buildings and single-family houses sprawling the hills of Namsan. It is the place of remembrance and commemoration of the national history and heritage with the War Memorial of Korea and the National Museum of Korea. The main attraction of this district is Itaewon, the most cosmopolitan and expat-friendly neighborhood, where you can find authentic Middle Eastern, Indian, and European cuisines. This neighborhood is dominated by foreigners and even has a few Christian churches and Seoul Central Mosque — the only mosque in the Seoul metropolitan area. Another notable place is the U.S military base that will soon be moved to a different location, while the area would be redeveloped into the park.
Gangnam is a shiny quintessence of modernized Seoul with its high-tech skyscrapers, neon city lights, and crowded sidewalks. It’s an area with the most pricey real estate and the most upscale and expensive apartments for rent in Seoul. The epicenter of a business district in Seoul lies here — along the Teheran-ro, extending to Gangnam station. The area surrounding the Gangnam station is the Times Square of Seoul, crowded with glass and steel high-rises, neon billboards, and countless corporate headquarters. The underground world of Gangnam is even more exciting — under the Teheran-ro street lies Starfield COEX Mall — a colossal underground shopping center with cinemas, food courts, hotels, and department stores.
Previously an industrial textile manufacturing area with grey faceless factories and rural low-rise residential buildings, this district was redeveloped in the '70s and acquired a modern look and feel. The relocation of the Seoul National University to Gwanak-gu added more status and prestige and turned this area into a respected uptown. As you have probably guessed, the local apartments for rent are predominantly occupied by university students. Also, there is a large area with small houses for rent populated by Ph.D. students who look for tranquil surroundings for academic work in Seoul. The major commercial and entertainment part of Gwanak-gu filled with restaurants, pubs, and supermarkets, is located along the Nambu Beltway and Nokdu Street.
Songpa is a predominantly residential district located to the east of Gangnam. Here you can find one of the biggest sports facilities in the city, such as Seoul Olimpic Park and Jamsil Sports Complex. Lotte World is another notable destination in the district; it is an enormous entertainment and shopping complex and home to the largest ice rink and the largest theme park in Korea. Lotte World is especially popular among families with kids, and it can be quite crowded and loud during the weekends. Sincheon is a big nightlife area in the district, and it’s more upscale and luxurious than Hongdae, with tons of bars, restaurants, and cabarets. It is mainly filled with older, well-known, and respected establishments.
This district contains myriads of universities and colleges, and it is one of the favorite spots for Korean scholars to find an apartment for rent. It is also home to Hongdae, one of the most active nightlife districts and a paradise for all fans of underground culture in Seoul. It is packed with street performers, indie music venues, graffiti, and hipster stores. The night is the busiest time in Hongdae — it gets filled with students from nearby universities and party crashers. Mapo-gu is truly crammed with entertainment venues for any taste — no wonder it has one of the highest concentrations of foreigners in the city.