Updated: Nov 18, 2020
You've officially secured your Z- visa, and you're finally ready to come to China. Your mind must be flooded with numerous questions about what your-soon-to-be life in China will be like. You begin asking yourself, 'Where am I going to live in Beijing?', 'Can I even get a decent apartment in Beijing?', 'Will I have a toilet in my apartment?' these and many other questions. Today, we are happy to put all of your apartment search questions to rest. If you plan to teach with us at Houhai English, you can count on us to make your apartment search here in Beijing seamless.
"There are two main options when it comes to finding an apartment in Beijing. The first option is using Ziroom, a home rental and property management services that we partner with to make renting apartments for our staff convenient", says Alex, an onboarding specialist at Houhai English. "This is the easiest way to find your next home. We'll help you from the beginning to the end if you choose to use Ziroom. The other option is to find an apartment on your own. We will, of course, help new staff get connected with agencies around Beijing."
Seems easy enough, right? First, let's learn more about how exactly Ziroom works.
Ziroom is a Chinese home rental services company. You can find Ziroom online, or you can download the Ziroom app. There are numerous categories you can search to find the exact type of apartment you'd like to live in. "When you arrive, we'll get the information from our operations manager about which region you will be working in Beijing." Beijing is a vast city, and Houhai has got centers spread all across the city.
APARTMENT SEARCH EXPERIENCE
I spoke with Nico, a teacher at Houhai English, to learn more about his experience finding an apartment in Beijing. Nico informed me he went with the Ziroom option with Houhai. "With the help of a member from the onboarding department, It took me about three days after arriving in Beijing to find an apartment. I knew more or less how the apartment search works in Beijing from a friend. I didn't know which areas I would live in, so I decided not to search for an apartment until I arrived in the city. I looked through the Ziroom app and chose a few apartments I liked. The following day, we visited three to four apartments of my choice in different areas. Then, on the same day, I signed the lease for the apartment I liked the most.
THE INDEPENDENT ROUTE
Choosing your own rental agency is also a great option. Teachers who go this route usually opt to live in housing not available on Ziroom, like hutongs. "Candidates are welcomed to find other apartments of their choosing on their own. We're glad to help", Alex says. "If teachers do want to go the independent route, there will be more upfront costs when signing the lease." We'll get more into the costs below. Nico recently moved into a new apartment after his one year lease ended. "I liked my apartment, but I wanted to look for something a bit larger. Since I knew how the Ziroom app worked, I just went ahead and searched all on my own this time. I spent about two weeks searching and then found a great new apartment. The process was straightforward".
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
There are numerous great neighborhoods to choose from in Beijing. What sort of Beijing experience are you looking for? Are you looking for a modern ex-pat life? A traditional Beijing experience? Maybe a little mix of the two? Take a look around the Beijing map. Our advice: It's best to choose an apartment close to a subway station and close to your center region. We wrote a whole blog post dedicated to the different types of neighborhoods in Beijing. Check it out
CAN I START LOOKING FOR AN APARTMENT RIGHT NOW?
Apartment searching and signing a new lease is a swift process in Beijing. Typically, you can search for an apartment and sign your lease within a few days. If you feel a bit anxious, you can go to Ziroom now and check out some options. However, it's very unlikely the exact apartment you find will be available once you get to Beijing.
Alex informs me about how he asks new teachers about their apartment priorities. After learning about which region the teacher will be working in, Alex will help search through the Ziroom app for an apartment that meets the teachers' needs. "I always ask the new teachers about the apartment details they are looking for. Sometimes, teachers must choose two to three top priorities."
Essential things to take into consideration:
Neighborhood / Location
Proximity to the subway station
Proximity to markets, shops, shopping malls, gym
Beijing is one of the most expensive cities to live in in China, especially if you'd like to live in the central/ downtown area. Apartment rates can drastically vary across Beijing. "Generally, our teachers' apartment budget range between 3500K- 12K RMB (roughly 500-1800 USD) a month. If you're coming alone, you can get a suitable single apartment, or if you prefer, we can pair you up with another teacher and share an apartment. For 3500K a month, you will most likely be able to get a modern shared apartment. For 12K, you can get a very nice two-bedroom modern apartment.
In Beijing, it's pretty standard to pay three months of rent at a time. Additionally, when signing your lease, you will often be required to spend five months of rent upfront. This includes three months of rent, a safety deposit fee, and an agency. That's quite a lump of money. "On the bright side, if you decide to go with Ziroom with us, we'll help you out. You won't have to worry about an agency fee. As for the rest of the money, we'll cover all the upfront costs and simply deduct the amount from your monthly salary. Ziroom will also include WIFI and free monthly cleaning service." If you decide to go the independent route with an alternative agency, be prepare enough money to cover the upfront costs.
Alex assures me that the onboarding team will help make the move-in process as easy as possible. "We'll hire a truck and help our teachers move into their new apartments. We'll also make sure they are comfortable and settled in properly. We'll go check out the nearest shops and markets together to make sure everything is perfect."
I hope we were able to quiet any nerves about finding an apartment in Beijing. It's safe to say finding an apartment is very manageable in Beijing. We're confident you'll find a fantastic spot and be happier here than you ever anticipated!