I mentioned some time ago that finding an apartment in Beijing is not easy.
Since I’m hunting for a new apartment due to our landlady moving back in. Since I’m not really up for living with her as sweet as she may be, I decided to share this wonderful experience! Given that I have some experience already, I went to my usual spots to look up apartments. So where does one look for a place?
Where to Look?
First, you can try TheBeijinger.com, which is the “go to” resource for expats in terms of activities, job hunting and apartment hunting. You have to filter through the crap, but eventually, you will find some interesting options. If you have some good friends already here, chances are that they might also be part of some groups on WeChat for apartment rentals and room sharing. There’s a lot of them, but due to the market being quite busy, most are full. Your friends will guard these groups and their position jealously! I know I do! A good friend asked me to add him to an apartment group on WeChat, but unfortunately, most of the ones I have are already full.
Then there’s other online resources like Wellcee and Facebook. Wellcee is a website dedicated to rentals and is, in general, legitimate. Facebook has a bunch of groups for Beijing and expats in the same way as WeChat has. Not as efficient, but still an available resource. Now what do you do once you have access to all these amazing resources like me? You filter through everything, check pictures, find the right price for you and… that’s it? Well dear readers, I wish it was. This is where the word “hunting” comes in.
THE big obstacle is the obvious one, agents. Have you heard about the agents renting out places in Beijing or anywhere in China? It’s a business. A crooked one at that too. And regardless of the fact that you are Chinese or an expat, we all approach agents with discomfort because there is a serious lack of trust. Being an agent for one of the top agencies here feels to me like dirty work. Here’s my latest experience with an agent.
Found some interesting apartments around Dongzhimen with fair prices and decent layouts. We got in touch with the agents and went and visited with my awesome pals (#threestooges). We show up at the place all high in spirits hoping this will be a quick deal. First off, the agent online is “busy” and we have this random 3 feet high agent woman. Ok, maybe not 3 feet high, but she was small. She tells us that the apartment we want to see is not available (was already leased out she said) but she has another very good option for us. We’ve all been here long enough to smell BS when we hear it. We gave her the benefit of doubt and went on to check out the place. And we laughed so hard when we saw it. The place was not even close to being called similar to the one saw online. They also wanted to charge us an extra 2k compared to the price we were aiming at. Does this feel like false advertisement? Yes, yes it is. And unfortunately, it’s common here. You get used to it and at one point you find ways to avoid wasting your time. Like ask for actual availability of the apartment and pictures with proof of “today’s date”. Crazy, right? But it’s a known fact that agents will do anything to get you on location and hoping to push something you didn’t ask for onto you. It works for people that have a hard time saying no.
But for the #threestooges, the agent lady hit a wall and she ended up admitting that the apartments they have online on “58.cn” is just for show to bring people to visit. Needless to say we told her she was wasting everyone’s time. Except hers because honestly, she had nothing else to do.
Last trick to finding an apartment is referrals from friends and other people. Expats move in and out all the time. Most of them are smart enough to make it easy for future expats and landlords to skip the agents and just pass their fair priced lease to someone else. Pass it forward as they say.
If you come to Beijing, hit me up, I’ll help you out since I got a lot of good help from amazing people here and will pass it forward if I can. Isn’t the world nicer when we all help each other? Yes, yes it is!
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Today’s item on the list :
Spend a nice “jazzy” evening.Which is where I took the picture in the header at a place called TheBricks. Reminded me of some sweet nights in Montreal. Sweet sweet jazzy nights.