Finding an apartment in China!
(Looking for a roommate? Click HERE)
New teachers tell us...
... that the thought of finding an apartment in China is daunting. While it is true that finding a new place can be stressful; your fellow teachers, the internet, and a friendly agent will be your biggest assets when looking for your new home away from home.
First, the good news:
- There are lots of great apartments in China. The cost of real estate is cheaper here (for now) than in western countries which means you get more space for your money.
- Apartments are furnished in China. While you'll be making trips to Ikea for the odds and ends, the basics are already there so you will not need to worry about furnishing your new place.
- You can negotiate. Money talks in China so while you may not be able to reduce the rental fee much, you can feel free to ask for more "stuff" in the apartment to make your life more comfortable. DVD players, flat screen TVs, better furniture or appliances are all within the realm of negotiation.
Now the bad news. Listen up:
- You'll see the bad apartments first. Agents are not stupid, they will try to offload their undesirable places first, so don't get discouraged. There are great places out there, you just have to hold out for the good stuff.
- Agents are aligned with the landlords. Agents get paid a percentage of the rental fee, so it is in their best interest to encourage you to rent the place for the highest price. Negotiate on price when you can, and get them to throw in extras.
- Most apartments are rented by agents. A private rental is rare, especially when there is a language barrier involved.
- Agents will assume you are on an "expat package." Make it clear what your budget is.
The basics of apartment rental in China:
- Most leases are for 1 year.
- It is common to pay 1-2 months rent as a security deposit and 2-3 months rent upfront. For this, EF provides an IOU loan to help pay for these costs before your first paycheck. However you may have to supplement the upfront costs with your own funds, so prepare to bring at least $2000 to China (approximately 12,000RMB)
- EF teachers typically live either alone in a studio or 1 bedroom, or with a roommate in a 2-3 bedroom flat.
- It is cheaper to live with roommates than to live on your own.
- Depending on your tastes and roommate situation, EF teachers pay anywhere between 2000-4000 RMB per month.
- Other than having basic things like a bed, wardrobe, fridge, a stove, a TV, and washing machine, before you sign the contract - you can also ask your agent/landlord (within reason), to include things like: a water cooler, internet set up, additional furniture and/or storage, and even a DVD player!
What to expect:
When you arrive to China, we will provide you with a list of agents who will want to know the location you wish to live in. Typically teachers live close to the school where they work or near a metro line.
- See as many apartments as you can so as to get a feel of what is out there. Ask your fellow teachers, DoS, and new friends if they recommend an agent who they trust.
- After you decide on an apartment, you can use your IOU loan to help pay the deposit and rent.
- Sign your contract. Ask a Chinese staff member at your school to help translate it for you if it is not written in English.
- Register at the police station (PSB). China wants to know where you are, so after you have moved, go to the PSB with your contract and passport to register your place of residency. You will have to do it again after your residency permit is processed.
What you can do to prepare:
We recommend that you look online ( check out Craigslist.cn for all the cities) before you come so that you can get an idea of what's out there. Keep in mind, there is a whole market that caters to "expat executives" and the types of places they would live are very expensive (as housing can be paid for by their companies.) Don't worry: there are lots of great apartments at reasonable prices.
When it is all said and done, you will find a nice place to live. Your apartment search may be your initiation to China, but there is an upside: everything that comes after will seem easy.
Want more information, have questions or want to leave a comment? See what our teachers and recruits have to say @ My House-Hunting Experience
AND RELATED TO HOUSING.....
WHAT IS AN "AYI"
Having ayi is a real perk about living in China. Ayi's are part-time maids who will clean your house, mother you a bit, and give you endless advice on everything (in Chinese.) Typically she will visit your home while you are at work and costs RMB 15-30 per hour.
See what our teachers and recruits have to say @ My House-Hunting Experience