So you’re leaving Beijing! We’re sorry to see you go, pal.
Moving home is right up there among life’s most stressful events, largely because you have to pack up all your belongings, and divesting yourself of items you no longer want or need. To avoid a last-minute panic that will result in you dumping all your unwanted objects on the street corner (not a good look), we’ve compiled this guide to help you through the process.
Luckily, with all the people coming and going in Beijing, there is a thriving second-hand scene, so you are sure to find a loving home for your pre-owned goods. Here’s how:
Ask around for buy-and-sell groups
There are hundreds of buy-and-sell groups on WeChat, concentrating in different geographic areas, languages, and price ranges. As well as the general everything-including-the-kitchen-sink groups, there are specific groups for things like scooters, baby clothes, bikes, and kitchenware. Ask around in your community and among friends for somebody to add you. Be wary of scammers, and don’t send an item by kuadi before you’ve received payment unless you absolutely trust the buyer. If you’re new to getting goods delivered, check our handy guide to Shansong here.
Check the Beijinger Classifieds
In the age of WeChat, our Classifieds section may feel a little old-fashioned, but there are still huge advantages to using it: it’s free, our average classifieds posts get hundreds of views, you can add more photos and details than you would on WeChat, and your item remains visible for weeks on end. To increase your chances of making a sale, include as much detail about the item as possible, and be clear on what conditions of sale (such as delivery) and prices you will and won’t accept – this will cut down on a lot of repetitive and time-wasting exchanges later on. Click here to advertise an item.
Talk to your landlord
If you’ve invested in quality furniture or homewares, your landlord may be interested in buying them from you and keeping them in the home, as this can increase the value of the rental for future tenants.
Hold a ‘house-emptying’ party
Think of it as a yard-sale, but for your apartment. Invite people over during a designated period of time (weekends are best) to browse through your home. Here are our tips for running it smoothly:
- Advertise the sale in your building, and on any buy-and-sell groups you are active in.
- Be mindful of security. Don’t host an open-house alone, and keep any non-sale valuables in a secure area. Consider designating a room or space as “off limits” to make this easier.
- Lay out your items on available surfaces as attractively as possible, to make it easy for people to browse.
- Create ‘value packs’ for small, low-value items like spices and kitchen utensils. A sign saying something like “10 items for RMB 100” will encourage people to take small-value items in bulk.
- Put prices on everything, or make a price list, so you don’t have to think them up on the spot.
- Decide in advance which items you just want to get rid of, and will accept lowball prices for. And, more importantly, which items you won’t.
- If you are hosting with a partner or friend, get on the same page about prices and procedures before the buyers arrive.
Offer it to your ayi
Remember to be respectful and ask her first: don’t just assume that your ayi wants your leftovers.
Donate to Roundabout
Roundabout is a social enterprise and community boutique which opened way back in 2008 as the first charity store in mainland China. These days, it is run by volunteers and has a donation and distribution center, as well as a retail store in Shunyi. Any items that you donate will either be passed on directly to those in need, or sold in their retail store to raise funds for charity. Roundabout will accept most goods that are in good, clean, working order. You can arrange for them to pick up items directly from your home, or drop them off at one of the many drop-off locations around the city, such as Zarah Cafe and the British Embassy. Click here for more details about how to donate.
Give away clothes via the Clothes Auction Network
Clothes Auction Network is a local English-language WeChat group that hosts regular used-clothes auctions in private homes around the city. Group members bring a plate of food or drinks to share, along with their old clothes and bid on clothes and items in RMB 10 increments. Bidding tends to get rowdier as the wine bottles are emptied, and because participants range from high-powered executives to interns and everything in between, fantastic bargains can be had, so go easy and remember that you’re trying to get rid of stuff, not accumulate more. All funds raised from the sales are donated to a charity (nominated beforehand by the auction host) at the end of the swap, and leftover clothes are donated to Roundabout. Right now, the group only caters to women’s clothing, however, men are welcome to join the group, and encouraged to create a men’s clothing or unisex event! To join, add admin Rebecca Archer on Wechat (ID: Becstarnz).
Give away items in the ‘Reduce to Relive’ group
Reduce to Relive is a WeChat group set up to serve people who wish to exchange, transfer and receive secondhand goods in Beijing. All items posted in the group must be free, although the receiver may pay delivery fees if convenient. The group is run by zero-waste store The Bulk House, who also organizes periodic Reduce to Relive events. To join, add WeChat ID: The_Bulk_House_1.
General Tips and Advice for a smooth de-cluttering
- Start early. The more time you give yourself to divest items, the less stressful it will be, and the more likely that you can do it in a responsible manner.
- Start close. Advertise items for sale in your immediate circle first: among colleagues, and neighbors. It’s much easier to organize pickups when people live around the corner or in the building.
- Sell in advance. Don’t be shy to say “item available from September” if you want to secure a buyer for an item, but still need it right now. This works well for seasonal items, for example, selling an air conditioner in winter.
- Be precise. When creating ‘for-sale’ images to share on WeChat, include all relevant information on the picture itself so it can easily be forwarded around. Include the general location of pickup, size of object, condition, and price. Location is more important than you think: many people will not bother asking about an item if the location isn’t listed because it may be very far away.
And most importantly of all, don’t panic! You’ve got this.