The Korea Herald

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Home prices drive Seoulites out of town

5.47 million Seoul residents left between 2014 and 2023 primarily due to housing

By Park Jun-hee

Published : Feb. 5, 2024 - 14:43

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This file photo shows a massive apartment complex in Mokdong, Yangcheon-gu, western Seoul, (Yonhap) This file photo shows a massive apartment complex in Mokdong, Yangcheon-gu, western Seoul, (Yonhap)

More than 5.47 million Seoulites have moved to a different metro area in the last 10 years, government data showed Monday, as home prices and uncertainties in the real estate market drive many to relocate to cities with more affordable housing.

Of the total, some 1.74 million people said their main reason for leaving the city between 2014 and 2023 was housing, according to the Korean Statistical Information Service data on the number of people who relocated from Seoul to other cities and provinces. Korean residents are asked to give a reason for moving when registering a change of address.

People who moved out of the city because of housing were typically those who had bought a house outside the capital city or whose rental contracts had expired.

Employment-related reasons were the second most common, with 1.34 million people leaving the city giving it as the main reason.

KOSIS did not list the other reasons for leaving.

In addition, the data showed that the neighboring districts of Gyeonggi Province and Incheon, were the two most common places Seoulites moved to over the past 10 years. Some 3.4 million people from the capital flocked to Gyeonggi Province, with housing, family reasons and relocating for work being prevalent reasons. Housing was also the most common reason for most of the 427,000 people who left Seoul for Incheon.

In contrast, some 4.61 million out-of-towners moved to Seoul in the same period, according to the data. Among the total figure, more than 1.64 million people came to Seoul for employment or to land a job, as Seoul offers a variety of job opportunities and often better prospects for career progression. This brought a net inflow of 294,000 people moving for employment reasons.

Education attracted 446,000 people to Seoul, as the city has the most prestigious schools in the country and is home to famous cram schools, known locally as "hagwon."

According to the Korea Real Estate Board, the average transaction price for high-rise apartments in Seoul from January to November last year was approximately 4.2 million won ($3,150) per square meter. This means a household would need at least 1.15 billion won to purchase a 25-pyeong apartment in Seoul, a popular standard size of home equal to 83 square meters.

The housing prices in Seoul were six times higher than in South Jeolla Province, where an apartment unit is priced at 712,000 won per square meter. The price was 1.95 million won in Gyeonggi Province, and 1.52 million won in Incheon, respectively.

Meanwhile, the average annual earnings of those living in Seoul stood at 46.83 million won in 2022, according to data released by Rep. Yang Kyung-sook of the main opposition Democratic Party last month, which is far less than the amount they would need to purchase an apartment in the city.