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Monday, January 3, 2011

Apartment Hunting - Year 2

Chinese real estate office
I'm apartment hunting again. Ugh.

Since the lease at my current apartment will be up at the end of January, & I'm now working downtown Monday to Friday, I've been looking for a place to live that's closer to the new office.

Apartment hunting in Shanghai isn't like it is at home. In the States, you choose an apartment complex where you'd like to live, then ask the complex manager to show you the available units. If you like it, you sign a lease & you're done.

But here in Shanghai, apartment hunting is more like house hunting because almost all apartments are privately owned. The apartments available for rent are listed with real estate agents, so you need to find one of those first.

The first & second times I was apartment hunting, it was early on in my China Experience, so I had no idea how to recognize a real estate office here - I needed lots of help from the other teachers at my school.

Since then, I've noticed that almost all of the real estate offices look like the one shown here, with lots of pages posted neatly on the window. So for this round of apartment hunting, I was able to spot a real estate office pretty easily. & thanks to my improving Chinese language skills, I was able to explain to the agent there what I'm looking for.

My new contract is only for six months, so I don't want to sign a one-year lease if I'll be leaving in half that time. However, most apartment owners add a couple hundred RMB (the Chinese currency) to the rent for shorter leases. Not such a big deal, but I have some time, so wanted to see if there's a better solution. After a couple of days of apartment hunting together, my real estate agent suggested that I move into her spare bedroom.

So I went over to check the place out. Although it's a little farther from the office than I would like, it's right next to a subway station, so getting to work would be fairly easy. The apartment itself is cute with all the amenities (washing machine, cable TV, internet connection), & Emily is a nice person. Plus, she's Chinese, which might be handy when I need to talk with the plumber or the gas meter guy. All this for about $100 less than what I'm paying for my current apartment.

Not bad, but it's now January. I'm leaving for a visit home in less than a month (YAY!), & I will be gone for the whole month of February. Does it make sense to move to a new place now? Or should I just ask a friend to store my stuff & then look for a place when I get back?

What would you do?


scott said...

I think it comes down to whether you want a roommate or not. A chinese roommate might take your chinese to a new level! And be fun! Assuming she doesn't speak English, because otherwise she'd probably like to practice English on you (understandably). And there are always the little cons about roommates. :-)

Btw, I don't count 'em until they move in and the first check is in hand, but theoretically I have two roommates moving into my Gilbert place. Sigh. So much for the quiet life!

Sunny said...

Perhaps ask your new roomie if you could pay her 1/2 the rent for Feb so you will have a place to store your things until you get back?

By the way, will you be in the LA area at all in Feb? Would love to see you while you're here if you can squeeze in a visit :)

Nancy Lewis said...

Thanks guys. I've decided to go ahead & move in with the real estate agent. I agree that the benefits of having a Chinese roommate outweigh everything else. I'm moving in this Sunday.