Each individual that want to move to Shanghai need to be aware of one thing: the Chinese housing market. I have lived in Shanghai several years and have tremendous experience from renting apartments downtown.
I have a couple of things I want to share with those of you that are looking for an apartment in Shanghai.
House hunting-from abroad?
It is very difficult to find an apartment from abroad – and I speak from experience. There are a lot of real estate agency websites presenting pictures and address for properties in Shanghai, but you can often be surprised of the lack of resemblence between the pictures online and the actual apartment. In other words, there are good possibilties to do some research online upon your Shanghai arrival, but I would be careful to do any deals before you actually see the apartment yourself.
But what you can do is to contact a real estate agency and ask them to start searhing for apartments that fill your needs – this is usually smart to do about one week before you arrive Shanghai.
Prices and standard
You will find a lot of different apartments in Shanghai. Unfortunately, a lot of them do not meet normal western standards due to old furnitre, cockroaches, lack of aircondition etc. . It is also important to tell you that you almost every contract period in Shanghai needs to be more than six months. The most common rental period is one year – and you have to find a replacement yourself if you want to get out of it.
There is hard to determine a “normal price” in Shanghai due to the big variation of different apartments and the fact that “location is everything”. If you want to live nearby the hot spots downtown (People´s Square, Jing´an Temple, French Concession etc.) you will have to pay a pretty high price for your own apartment. However, there are a lot of great transportation possibilities along the subway lines.
One should always be careful and always have someone who speaks the language unless you find a real estate agency where the employees speak English. There are a lot of Chinese driven real estate companies that only target foreign customers because of their own financial interests.
You can use Google to find out what kind of review the different real estate companies have gotten and contact the ones who seem legit.