In April, we conducted a forced hunt for a new apartment since our rental agreement was up and the landlord wanted to bump up the rent by RMB 3,000 a month. Oddly enough, we were not thrilled with the prospect of a 35 percent rent hike. Don’t get me wrong, I had grown to like the lavish “European” chandelier, even if it did hang down to my nose – walking in our living room occasionally involved becoming one with the crystal. Nor was I eager to give up the plush leather padding on the living room wall that also made our bedroom door disappear – we once had a friend lean against it to see how soft it was and he accidentally discovered our bedroom by falling into it.
Yes, despite living in what at times felt like a cheesy adult film set from the 1970s, I really didn’t want to move again. So when the landlord agreed to a slightly less ridiculous rent hike, we stayed put. But not before we scoured the neighborhood for something more suitable and more affordable. We didn’t find it.
Actually, that’s not entirely true. We did find another apartment we liked, and it had an additional room for the twins, but that landlord was asking for even more rent and the furnishings were not nearly as nice. That was precisely the apartment we were checking out when we learned there was already “another renter” that was going to take it the next morning if we didn’t act right away and take the place. I spelled out the whole story in a previous blog (Are Real Estate Agents Manipulating You?) back in April. Essentially, they tried to use scarcity to get us to quickly sign a rental agreement, but we walked away knowing something wasn’t right with the story.
Fast-forward four months, and fate finally required us to move since our landlord sold his parent’s flat and needed to move them into the apartment we had been renting for over two years (the last four months we did not have a contract and we understood this day would come). To our surprise, when we went looking at apartments, the same one we looked at in April, where some mystery renter was going to get the place the next day, was still on the market. Luck was on our side this time as the asking price had dropped and we were able to negotiate a further reduction and bring the price to within our budget. Because we didn’t rent the place four months ago, we were able to get it for considerably less and without being manipulated. An added bonus is that the landlord’s expectations for what his place is worth came back down closer to reality, well, Beijing reality.
It is by no means perfect, but having an extra room is a welcome addition. Oh, and for those keeping track, we actually managed to move two blocks closer to my wife’s office. As my daughter rightly pointed out, to get any closer, we will need to rent a cubical in her building the next time we move. Hopefully, rent prices in Beijing won’t make that a necessity anytime soon.
Photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver flickr