First, let me tell you the 5 places I stayed in Shanghai and what I learned from moving 4 times in 5 years
- Dormitory (Free)
I shared a room with another staff of the hotel. And shared bathroom. It became a bit miserable when it comes to wintertime where hot waters ran out after dark.
- Single’s apartment 5000 RMB/month
- 2 bedroom apartment on Fanghua Rd in Pudong for 5500 RMB/month
- Old lane house with loft and 2 huge living rooms in Xintiandi 7800 RMB/month
- 1 bedroom apartment in Huaihai Middle Rd 5500 RMB/month
And here are the 10 things that I learned from moving 5 apartments in 5 years living in Shanghai since 2016.
When looking for an apartment in Shanghai (Or in China in general):
- Be patient. I always look at about 8–12 apartments before I found the one. Take 2 to 3 weekends to see as many apartments as possible, and you should be able to get a feeling of what is a great apartment for you to call home.
- Never rent the 1st floor (G/F) in Shanghai. Because the 1st floor in Shanghai it’s usually humid, and easy access for mice and other termites. If there’s a garden or a yard, you might occasionally get garbage or cigarette butts from your upstairs neighbor
And the actual time you will be able to enjoy the outdoor space is limited. You will get mold in your closet, on your wall…Not great.
- If you like a certain area, go walk around and ask for housing information from the real estate agent in that area. they will have more listings from local landlords than online listings.
- Never trust the pictures online! always go to the place by yourself
- A lot of renovated older apartments/lane houses are designed for AirBnb/short-term rental purposes, but because of the pandemic, they turn it into long-term leases. places like this are usually very small and have limited storage space and kitchen cooking space. you might have a nice oven, but the sink is right next to the stove with no countertop. it just doest make sense. Look out for those place have tiny round sink. When I see one of those, I know it’s not for long-term rental.
- Old lane houses are usually terrible at soundproof. if you have like to play loud music at night or like to have parties going on, you should reconsider it unless you have super nice neighbors. Also, lane house gets mice/rats much easier than a high-rise building.
- Deposit: It could be negotiated. I’ve heard of 付三押一, pay 3 months rent in advance, one month rent as deposit. 付二押二 pay 2 months rent in advance, 2 months rent as deposit. It all depends on what your landlord requested. I have negotiated to 1-month rent in advance and 1-month rent as a deposit. It was the best way for me. So try to negotiate with your landlord. You could also negotiate the rent by paying 6 months or even 1 year in advance. I know some Chinese friends do that to get 10, 15, or even 20% cheaper on the rent. Negotiate!
- The commission for a real estate agency is 35% of your monthly rent. The commission is usually paid from both sides of the contract (the landlord and the tenant)
And it is expected to be paid right after the leasing contract is signed between you and the landlord.
- Places to look for an apartment: WeChat moments. WeChat groups. Facebook groups. Best if You have friends or colleagues leaving Shanghai and for you to take over their place.
- If you like the place, you can pay a couple hundred down as a down payment to hold the apartment before you sign the lease and pay the deposit. Get a receipt on that, and The agent /landlord can usually hold the place for you for 1–3 days until the lease is signed.
And here are the 10 things I have learned from renting apartments in Shanghai, China since 2016!
From Vicky Hui