Can tourists rent apartments/rooms/houses in China?

Moderator: savanb

Can tourists rent apartments/rooms/houses in China?

Postby long_way » Wed Mar 26, 2008 2:02 pm

Yes, tourists can rent apartments/rooms/houses in China. Of course, it would make sense only if you planed on staying at one place more than 3-4 weeks otherwise it would be hard to find anyone who would rent an apartment or a room to you for just a week or so.


This web site is created with budget travelers in mind so you may ask if rental of apartments would fall into budget travel category. Yes, sometimes is is less expensive to rent an apartment than to stay at hostels.

I spent two months in Shanghai in November and December of 2007 and 2 weeks in January of 2008. My friends, who live in Pudong area of Shanghai, contacted one of the housing agencies in their neighborhood and found an apartment for me. The apartment was a decent studio, on the fourth floor, with one fairly big living room, kitchenette, bathroom and a balcony. It was furnished and with hardwood floor. The only thing that was missing was an air-conditioner/heater, so when the weather got cold I bought a small heater for less than Y40 at Carrefour supermarket.

I was paying Y1300/month plus around Y100 per month for utilities (TV, gas, water, electricity). Also the lady who was running the housing agency charged 1/3 of the monthly rent for her commission fee (only one time). Living in that apartment was more convenient and less expensive than staying at any of Shanghai hostels.

There are many agencies who can rent an apartment to you on behalf of the owners, you will recognize them when you see listings in the office windows (SEE LINKS BELOW!).

You may encounter two types of difficulties, though: first: most of the agency employees may not speak English so it would be extremely helpful if you could bring someone who speaks Chinese with you (unless you speak Chinese).

The second obstacle is that Chinese apartment owners may be reluctant to rent apartments to foreigners because it is more complicated and they often don't want the hassle: they would have to go to the PBS (police station) with you and take their property documents with them and also "Household Register" papers, then you would have to fill out the form and give your passport to the police (they will just scan it or make a photocopy of your bio-data) before they register you as a tenant in their apartment. Also the actual rent amount will depend on your negotiation skills; I doubt that I would pay Y1300/month if I was bargaining the price myself, it would certainly be more than that.

There are three types of apartments in Shanghai that one can rent:
1) Service apartments (rent around Y8000 for 100sqm 2 bedroom apt),
2) Newly built houses and apartments (rent goes around Y7000 for the same apt), and
3) Simple old apartments, the kind that I was renting, which can be found for around Y2000 for approx 80sqm. The price depends on the part of the city where the apartment is located of course.

The following are the pictures I took in Shanghai last winter:

Housing agency through which my friends found an apartment for me:

Address of the agency: ... 1eb7_b.jpg

View from the street: ... 159d_o.jpg

Vacant apartments: ... 1d1a_b.jpg ... 0c1c_b.jpg

Business card of the lady who runs that agency and who rented an apartment to my friends for me: ... ency_b.jpg

This is the building where was the apartment I rented: ... 8a55_b.jpg

This is the intersection where the building was located: ... 9af5_b.jpg

I had to buy this heater in January because it was too cold in the apartment (the price: Y30-40 at Carrefour Supermarket): ... cc42_b.jpg

This is in Pudong area of Shanghai, you can get there from the People's Square by taking only one bus: Tunnel 6 Bus: ... a913_b.jpg ... f610_b.jpg

People's Square Tunnel 6 bus stop: ... 2ef6_b.jpg

These are the areas of Shanghai (Puxi - newer part of Shanghai) where is recommended that you look for apartments: ... ng_apa.jpg

and these are two web sites where you can check availability of apartments: (only in Chinese)
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