Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Save your money, kiddies!

I have frequently talked up the virtues of saving your pennies (tens of thousands of pennies each month) to buy property in Korea (I know where you can find still very affordable but decent housing that will likely go up in value over the next ten years, perhaps many times over), but this guy also did something pretty good: He took his ESL-teaching earnings and opened up a restaurant — in Wisconsin. 

Good on you, Ryan. If I'm ever in Chippewa Valley Eau Claire (and with loads of relatives in next-door Minnesota and in the LaCrosse area, I just might be), I'll drop in to Secret Garden and sample some of your fare. 

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  1. Care to share where you think in Seoul (or near there) will go up in value? Or do you want to keep that a secret?

    I ask because my family has some land there and it's just been sitting there for decades (has gone up a lot but no skyrocketing offers).

  2. There are lots of places in and around Seoul where home prices are still "affordable," but it involves "older" homes (by rebuilding-crazed Seoul standards), often in less desirable neighborhoods. There's also no guarantee that home prices will go up in any neighborhood, but there are signs and characteristics to look for that can give an indication.

    I took that type of knowledge and insight into my home-buying decision, and my property has tripled in value in seven years, with an indication it will go up further as redevelopment of the area continues.

    The place I have in mind (i.e., the one I mentioned in the post) is not one I want to broadcast everywhere, so it's something I prefer you email me privately about. But it's a good place with a lot going for it, and I'd like to see serious working-class E2s and F4s and others look at it as an opportunity for financial betterment.

    It's a long-term "buy low, sell high" proposition, and real estate never comes with a 100% guarantee by any means, but I'm using the same set of ideas I did before and it's a place I would buy sometime in the next few years if I had the means to get a second home.

    As for your family land, where is it? That's something you might also want to tell me off-line.

  3. Stupid question of the day, foreigners can buy property in Korea?

  4. Matt, absolutely yes. I am a US national and I own my own property in my name and my name only and it has always been that way since I purchased it in August 2002.

    Not only were there no extra hoops to go through as a foreign national, but the authorities also made it very easy to get all the paperwork put together. Though I had started a company through KOTRA, none of this was through them; it was all as a regular person through the Yongsan-gu office.

    I also got a mortgage through Shinhan Bank, all in my own name with no cosigner or whatever.

    Some local governments that have fewer dealings with foreign nationals buying property might be a little confused at first, which is why it might be a good idea to check with the Seoul or some other metropolitan or provincial office to know the procedure (which is basically the same as with a ROK national, but with international forms of ID and/or Korean alien registration number).

    If you're serious, email me off-line and I'll give you some advice or tips or whatever.

    I think foreign ownership of property for private individuals was re-allowed in the mid- or late 1990s, but I'm not sure. It had been going on for some time by the time I purchased my apartment.

  5. I should add that the issue of foreign national ownership is one of those issues that has made me so jaded vis-à-vis foreigner complaints about xenophobia or racism in Korea. People are often regurgitating stuff that is fed to them without any real knowledge of whether it is still true, ever was true, or is somehow partly or mostly wrong. That foreigners can't own property in Korea is one of those things used by some to beat up on Korea for being racist and xenophobic, even though it is wholly untrue.

    In fact, I have had people angrily tell me I'm lying about actually owning my own property in my own name, or I'm somehow being duped big time by an evil consortium of people at the local government level. That's how rigidly they seem to want to believe this enduring meme.

  6. Oh, wait. I take that back about the extra hoops. I can't remember what it was for, but once I had to go to the US embassy and get a notarized letter that my signature was really of the person I was claiming to be (me).

    I think that was for something related to housing, which was either registering it in my name or for getting the loan, but I think it was the former.

    But this procedure is in lieu of having a registered tojang (chop, or stamp) at the local government office, so it's not really an extra step.

  7. You can also go the route I did and buy land outside of Seoul. Since buying in 2006, the value has more than tripled and shows no signs of slowing. (It's not in a green-zone; a highway is being built nearby; AND they're working on connecting the Seoul subway system to the city.)

    I saved and it appears to be paying off so far.

  8. Good for you! I'm always very happy to hear such success stories.

    I was fortunate enough to get in the middle of Seoul in an area I like, but I think a lot of the 'burbs have a lot to offer as well. Glad to see you're investment is paying off.


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