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  • Where to live in Shanghai? Tips to avoid scams

    Post by : expatree

Where to live? This is one of the major problems expats initially face when moving to Shanghai. In order to evaluate the best location, the following factors, amongst other more personal issues, need to be taken into consideration:

- International School if you have children
- Office Location
- Transportation
- Shopping for western products and 24/7 local shops
- Where are your friends living?
- What access is there to ‘Green Space’?
- Access to Hospitals and Clinics
- Access to restaurants and entertainments
- Airport Access

It is important to know that the rent for your apartment will represent more than 38% of your monthly budget (cf Graph Distribution of expenses using). So you have to be sure of your choice!


How to rent an apartment or a house?
- If you just landed in China and you don’t know anyone, the fastest way to find an apartment is probably to check the websites available in English. The pros are that you won’t have to hunt for an agency on the street and most luckily you will deal with a landlord (or an agent) that can speak decent English. The cons are that the apartments and rooms are usually more expensive (this is logical because the landlord knows that he’s addressing foreigners, often newcomers that can’t speak Chinese) and they get rented fast.

However, if you can speak Chinese or have a Chinese friend that is willing to help you, you can also check the local websites. In this case, the most popular: Sou Fun, Bai Xing and Hao Zu. Also on the Chinese websites the best rooms and flats get rented fast. However you will have a wider variety to choose from and the prices will be way cheaper.

Another option for getting a room in a shared apartment
There is a Couch surfing’s group called Shanghai Living / Apartments / Real Estate, which is quite active. You could sign up and see if there is anybody else looking for a room. In this case you could propose to him/her to join you and look together for a flat. If there aren’t any people that have posted a message, you can still post a message yourself saying “Hey, I’m looking for a roommate. Anybody interested?” You can also join some expat groups on FB as Expats Shanghai or I <3 Shanghai. Why? The reason is that, if you team up with one or two other people that are also looking for a room, you will be able to rent a whole apartment.

Don’t freak out. Remember that you are in China! Be polite but inflexible. Repeat again and again what’s your budget and that you won’t accept anything more expensive than that. However remember to be realistic: find a decent room in downtown for less than 2,000 RMB/month is impossible.

Don’t forget to bargain the price. This is widely accepted in China and usually you will get some small discount (within 1% and 10% depending on your bargaining skills).

What are other major expenses beside the monthly rent (security deposit, agency fee, electricity and so on)?
In Shanghai, you should pay the rent every month or, at worst, every two months. Also, you will have to pay a security deposit. Be aware that the landlord may ask you for a two or three months’ rent deposit. However you shouldn’t accept to pay an amount of money higher than one month of rent as a deposit.

Usually you will have to pay the electricity, water, and gas and internet bills. The total amount shouldn’t be more than 400 RMB/month. So if you are three people it’s about 130 RMB/month each.

Why you need a regular contract?
There are two reasons:
- First at all, as soon as you arrive in China you are required to go to police station and register your address.
- The second reason for which you need a contract is that you can’t fully trust your landlord. What are you going to do if after three months into renting the apartment, your landlord decides to raise the price of your flat?

First at all, you should look for an apartment close to a subway station. The Shanghai subway system is massive (the longest in the world) so you can go pretty much everywhere with it. Also, it’s quite cheap.

In particular, my advice is to live along the subway line 2 (the green one), which crosses all of Shanghai from East to West. This will usually allow you to reach any part of the city with only one of two changes (and often without changes at all).

The best places to live are, in my opinion, between Nanjing East Station and Zhong Shan Park Station. Most of bars & clubs are located on the old French Concession that is on the South of these stations. But it’s not only about nightlife; I like this zone because it reminds me of a European town, with a lot of tiny alleys, small restaurants and old cafés.

Be aware that the apartments inside the French concession are either extremely expensive or pretty old. If you still want to live downtown and get a modern flat but, at the same time, you have a small budget, then I suggest to look at the North side of the line 2.
In general Zhong Shang Park and Jiangsu Road are cheaper than Jing'an, Nanjing West or People’s Square (check the map of the line 2 if you feel a bit lost).

Well, I think that by now you know everything you need to get yourself a place in Shanghai! Good luckJ
Date:2014-04-10 20:56:00
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