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What to look for while searching for an apartment in Shanghai

by Alex
20. August 2015
Category:   renting in Shanghai

Renting an apartment in Shanghai might not be as easy as it sounds. A lot of foreigners feel taken advantage of by Chinese real estate companies and landlords every year due to the cultural differences and the different understanding of the expression “high quality”.

Anyway, this is a guide for those of you who wants to find an apartment in Shanghai and don´t want to loose any money.

Shanghai bune, pearl tower view

A view of the Shanghai Pearl tower from the bund. This is “on the other side of the river”, in the Pudong area.


Checklist while finding an apartment in Shanghai

1. Website.

If you go into the real estate companies´ website, it will tell you a lot. I have worked in the real estate business in China in some years now and know that there is a clear correlation between the quality of the website and the general quality of what the company can offer you of services.

2. Location.

Not many landlords will care to tell you whether you move into a noisy environment or not. And yes, Shanghai can be very noisy at night. I had a client once who was tricked into taking a super-expensive apartment in one of the “worst” bar streets in Shanghai.

You should not only just check for 24/7 bars and restaurants nearby your home, but also use Google/Baidu to find out more about your location.

And – new buildings often contain a very thing concrete wall. I have several mornings been waked up by the sound of a drill coming through my wall. At least it sounds like that.

3. Square meters.

Did you know that you don´t measure square meters the same way in China as you do in other parts of the world?

I don´t care to explain how they measure square meters in Shanghai, but your apartment is approximately 20 % smaller than what the contract actually says. In other words; renting an apartment without seeing it is nothing but very stupid.

Shanghai has a lot of beautiful parks to offer.

Shanghai has a lot of beautiful parks to offer.


4. Hot water / cold water

In my first apartment in China (Beijing), we did not have warm water. Neither had we cold water. The water temperature was about the same in every room no matter how much we complained to the landlord and what we did with the sinks/water heater.

In other words: check the water possibilities before renting an apartment. The best thing will be to contact people who has rented the apartment before, but that might be a difficult thing to accomplish.

Anyway; I don´t feel that lack of hot water is a big problem in Shanghai.

5. Furnished?

The elevators might not be big enough to carry a sofa (unless you buy one from IKEA). 99 % of all the apartments in Shanghai are furnished. Be sure not to rent an unfurnished apartment as furniture is pretty expensive in Shanghai (again, unless you choose IKEA).

IKEA can be helpful to buy furnitures for your new apartment in Shanghai. Or to eat some Swedish world-famous meatballs.

IKEA can be helpful to buy furnitures for your new apartment in Shanghai. Or to eat some Swedish world-famous meatballs.