Friday, December 31, 1999

the real-estate question: good and bad news

[Originally posted on January 15, 2023, at 12:20 a.m.]

Saturday afternoon, I made it down to Tower Real Estate, one of several real-estate offices located on my building's first floor. Tower Real Estate handles the real-estate contracts for all the foreigners who work at my company and live in my building, Daecheong Tower. I've worked with TRE staffers before, and they've always been pleasant. Today was no exception: I ambled into the office, and only one lady was there. I told her my situation: my last day of work is Friday the 20th, and while the school has been taking care of my rent all this time, I wanted to know what I would need to do to stay where I am. The lady, echoing my boss's warning, said that my company could say that they had specific plans for my residence; in that case, I'd have to vacate. But thus far, the lady had received no call from my institute. She promised to call my place of work on Monday (I think her office works with my company's HR department) to find out what was up. If the Golden Goose says they have no particular plans for my place, then I can stay where I am and continue on a private contract. If the Golden Goose says it needs my place for a new staffer, then I'll have to move.

The lady assured me that, if necessary, I could move to a new apartment inside the building—one being prepared right now, freshly renovated. The bad news is that the rent would be W750,000 a month (not including utilities), which is W50,000/month more than I was hoping it would be. The great news, though, is that the deposit would be only W10 million, not the W20 million I'd feared. I could pay that now, if I wanted to, but I'll likely pay on Friday when my severance comes in. While the gross amount of my severance is over W20 million for 4.5 years' work, I expect to get a lot less in net pay once all the taxes and fees are taken out. In any case, my severance will be over W10 million, so I'll use part of the severance to pay the deposit, then I'll pocket the rest for myself. (I think the above-quoted rates apply whether I stay in my current place or move to a different apartment.)

It occurred to me that something was fishy about my company's not having contacted the real-estate office. My HR department has had my resignation letter for nearly a month. I suppose the explanation for the lack of a call could be perfectly innocent: the company did call, but they talked to a different staffer (there's another lady who works in this real-estate office). But if it turns out that the other staffer has also heard nothing from my company... that would be fishy, indeed. Did the CEO tell HR not to pull the trigger on me just yet? Anything's possible.

The real-estate staffer, Ms. Han, will call my HR department on Monday. After she talks to HR, she will text me what she's found out, so by Monday evening, I ought to know whether I can stay in my current place or have to move to a different apartment. I'm hoping that, if HR hasn't contacted the real-estate office up to now, that means they have no specific plans for my place. If HR does have specific plans, then not only do I have to move out, but I also have to get two things repaired before I leave: (1) the stained wallpaper under my leaky A/C unit, and (2) my gas range, which I haven't used in years. As a result, my monthly messages from the gas company routinely tell me that my bill for the month is zero won. My heated floor runs on electricity, so gas is only used for cooking. My gas range started acting wonky some years back—it has an oversensitive heat sensor that won't allow me even to boil water: the sensor triggers an alarm and turns the gas off. Annoyed by this overreaction, I simply stopped using the gas range, bought myself an electric burner and a portable gas stove of my own, and I cook with that setup. I have to buy butane cans now and then, but I don't mind. Butane is cheap.

If I do have to move out, it's going to be a several-day project; at this point, I've acquired a lot of shit. I'll need to buy a much bigger hand truck than the little, flimsy one I have. Moving is going to be a bitch, but it's doable. I can quietly move my crap at night, allowing for freer use of the elevators without having to pay that special elevator fee that gives you exclusive access to one elevator for several hours while you're moving in or out.

One thing I'm wondering about is whether the real-estate office is going to require proof of employment to let me have my apartment. When I got my place in Front Royal, Virginia, years ago, I was asked by the rental office to provide bank statements proving that I had a steady income, i.e., the capacity to pay rent. I'm curious as to whether Korea is the same. I'm also nervous because, if Korea also requires proof of income, well, I don't have a new job lined up just yet. However, with almost half of my severance coming to me, my bank account will have enough cash for me to be able to survive without a job for a few months if necessary.

All in all, I'm reassured that I can land on my feet after I leave the Golden Goose. I'll have a couple months' breathing room thanks to my improved financial condition—much better than back when I was in debt. Whether I move or not is a minor issue from the cosmic perspective—moving is stressful, but the stress is only temporary. Here's hoping that I won't have to move, though. I'll know more sometime on Monday.

1 comment:

John Mac said...

It does seem strange that HR hasn't notified the building about your pending departure. Maybe they are on the hook for the rent whether you stay or go? Anyway, it is good that you have options and will be able to stay in the building one way or the other.

Given your tumultuous work schedule of late, I assume you've not been able to actively start looking for the next big thing job-wise. I take it you will limit your search to an area that's a comfortable commute from your residence. At least it is easy to get around in Seoul, especially when you live above a subway line.

Good luck!