How to Rent an Apartment in China

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Renting an apartment in China requires planning, but it is not complex. China has had a real estate boom in recent years and there are a wide range of apartments available for rent by foreigners. Western style apartments in China are concentrated in areas of the city specified for foreigners. Rental agreements in China can be confusing, and it is best to have a local representative negotiate the deal. Read on to learn how to rent an apartment in China.

  • Contact one of several major real estate firms with offices in major Chinese cities, such as Shanghai and Beijing. See the Resources section below for a link. Century 21, ReMax and others are becoming bigger players in the burgeoning Chinese real estate market.

  • Search for an apartment in the English language newspapers and magazines. These publications are available near major hotels and in bookstores. The classified section is like any in America and features apartment rentals, condominiums and villas.

  • Use a map to identify the neighborhood and district of the apartment. The population density in China is much higher than in the West, and transportation needs should be considered when shopping for an apartment.

  • Consult expat message boards and websites. The local expats are a great resource for local information on available apartments, regulations and pitfalls to avoid. Expats can also give advice on the best places to buy furnishings.

  • Call and make appointments to see several apartments in one day. Appointments should be made for early in the day or after lunchtime but never around lunchtime. Be forewarned that punctuality may not be up to western standards so do not take it as a personal affront if the agent showing the apartment is an hour late.

  • Scrutinize the lease agreement carefully. There may be unfamiliar clauses in the rental agreement and those should be explained in detail before signing. Many Chinese landlords will ask for a minimum of three months rent up front. They may also require a security deposit.

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