I’ve recently moved into a third house, or a room to be exact. I hate the fact that living in Beijing is really expensive, and that I move to new places every year.
This year was different, though. If in my two previous accommodations I signed a one-year contract, my room now is only available until the end of June. I asked my new roommate if he would like to stay much longer; he said it would depend on the house owner if she would extend our lease.
Some friends were asking why I chose to get this room. I told them that despite the short-term lease, my new room is decent and gets a lot of sunlight. My new accommodation is in a high-rise building, and even though parts of the apartment looks old, the good things outweigh the not-so-good. The building is in a neighborhood near to a mall and a supermarket, and it’s just in front of a subway station. Also, I got the room for cheap, considering I live in Shuangjing where house rents are exorbitantly priced.
It wasn’t easy to get this room, though. I had to check five other houses during the coldest days of December. All those five were acceptable and quite cheap, but most of them were far from the nearest subway station or had no direct sunlight (just think of a prison cell). In one apartment, I had to share the bathroom with five people!
Also this time, I didn’t have any housing agents. Why was that? Because all they want is to get an unacceptable “agent’s fee,” which is usually the same amount of your one-month rent. I read that as, “Hey, I’m Chinese who can speak little English and I can help you deal with landlords.”
House agents in the expat hubs in Beijing know each other, and they get money through referrals. My first house agent found me a good but pricey one bedroom. But when I had some problems with my house, he was late to respond. I referred this agent to new expats, but they told me he was asking them a lot of money.
I grew tired of that and told myself that I can find a decent living space without the help of any housing agents. And I did… but you might ask how?
Our sister website, the Beijinger, will be your main source if you want to find rooms and houses in most expat hubs in the city, especially near to the Second Ring Road and hutongs. There’s also Wellcee.com where English-speaking Chinese post room or houses for rent. On WeChat, there are tons of housing groups and if you want to join one, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Going back to the short-term lease, it will be good if my new roommate will be able to extend our lease; if not, I shall think about it in the future. Anyway, I’ll be able to find a new room without the help of agents using the links I shared above!
Photo: Andy Penafuerte III