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Finding Apartments in China

How do you find an apartment in China?

In Canada, I’m used to looking at Craig’s list, getting referrals or just looking on the Internet for rentals. However, it’s a bit different in this part of the world.

Sure, you can look on Chinese websites and apps like 58 and Anjuke to check out what’s available But from what I’ve heard these places are a bit of a bait and switch and you still need to contact the ‘agent’ listed on it to view it. If you’re lucky you may find ones posted by the owner and you don’t need to pay that agents fee.

But more often than not, people use agents from Lianjia (etc) to find their rental apartments. If you ask a Chinese person for recommendation, they’ll just send you to an agent. I’ve tried.

What you need and will get in order to rent a place:

  • first month’s rent

  • 2 months’ deposit

  • agents fee (1/2 of one month’s rent)

  • a copy of the contract (signed by both parties)

  • IDs from landlord and renter (sometimes even the agents’ IDs)

  • a receipt of your deposit

  • a checklist of things included in your rental (refrigerator, tv, bed, washing machine, etc.)

It is important that you note anything you want replaced or changed before you sign the contract and have it written in the contract so the landlord will need to do it. Otherwise, they will drag their feet and it won’t get done/replaced. Be persistent.

A lot of times communication is not easy, so have someone help you interpret and ask for clarification in this process. You want to make sure you are on the same page.

Make sure you agree on the payment date of your bills and rent. It’s important to know where to pay your bill; whether it’s a deposit in a bank account or having to go your building maintenance office. If you’re unsure how much your monthly bill is, ask for an estimate. If you are depositing into an account, at the end of your rental term, your landlord should return the leftover balance to you. Rent payment is similar; whether it’s into a bank account or through Wechat or Alipay. Also, you can use Alipay to make deposits into bank accounts. That will save you a trip to the bank.

If the rental place is vacant, sometimes you may be given the keys earlier to move in. So take advantage of that.

When we first arrived in Shenzhen, we didn’t have many things so moving in wasn’t that big of a hassle. However, we will be looking for a new place at the end of this contract and we’ll need to use a mover. I have bought a lot of stuff since settling in. So more on that later!

Please note, contract negotiations could take a while so be prepared to stay a few hours. Ours took 2-3 hours. Check out some of our youtube videos below on the different steps of renting an apartment in China

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