Renting an apartment in Guangzhou and how I found my dream home

Look! I can actually see the Pearl River from my window.


Finding an apartment to live in isn’t easy, and it can be  far from easy when you are renting in a country that is still new to you. It was quite easy to find my first home in China, but because the room was in the middle of a small village it didn’t make Chinese police happy and I had to move out after half a year.

In May I was spending my holiday in Finland but also at the same time dreaming about my Chine home number two. I had already decided to find a home near Sun Yat Sen University in the Haizhu district, because I am starting my Bachelor degree there in September. There are different kind of areas near the university, from shabby villages to top end apartment hotels with shining decorations.

As a student my budget isn’t unlimited and I decided that the monthly rent should absolutely be under 3000RMB. I wanted a place I could happily live in, but also a place that I could afford without calling my mom. After coming back to Guangzhou me and my boyfriend immediately started to look for an apartment for us.

I noticed that even there are lots of Chinese websites for renting apartments they seem to be full of false adds. Property agents post an add to a website that has beautiful pictures and affordable price. Then when you call to ask about the apartment they say “it’s been just rented, but luckily we have some other good options for you”. This means they have something worse, or something more expensive.

The best way to find an apartment in Guangzhou is to first find the area you want to live in.In my opinion the location is the top priority and I want to live near to my university in order not to spend too much time on metro or bus every morning and evening. From my current home it takes only five minutes to walk to the north gate of Sun Yat Sen University.

In every district there are numerous property agents that both sell and rent apartments. Usually if you find something interesting you can see the place right away or atleast the next day. Remember to tell the agents very clearly what you want. There’s no point in wasting time in seeing homes you would never rent. Figure out what is your budget and what you want from your apartment.

It is also important to ask the agent how much money you have to pay them if you make a deal through them. Also ask the owner what kind of other monthly or yearly fees will be added on top of the rent. If you have limits in your wallet you want to be sure what you are actually paying each month. If you are happy to be on the rich side, then just pick any fancy place you like.

When I said that we started looking immediately after my return to China it means that I arrived to Guangzhou on Friday evening on 10th of June and the next morning we headed out to find our home. During the weekend we saw some terrible places with way too much dirt. We also saw some amazing rooms with way too high rents. We went to five or six property agent offices to ask for suitable apartments and who continued calling us for few days until they believed we already found a place.

Finally on Sunday we saw a place that looked nice. Big window in the living room and lovely bay window in the bedroom. From the first sight I though that this place is for us! But I was little bit worried about the monthly rent of 2800 RMB because it was on the high end of our budget.

But after seeing that place we couldn’t find anything better and I couldn’t stop thinking about that apartment. Therefore on Monday the 13th we signed the contract and rented it! We also managed to bargain a bit and got the rent down to 2700RMB which is about 290 euros.

Renting an apartment this fast could never happen in Finland. First of all nothing happens on Sundays and second people usually have to wait a month or so for the previous tenant to move away. In Finland it also wouldn’t be possible to rent a place like this for that price. Usually apartments with living room and one bedroom costs around 500 to 600 euros in my old university city, Tampere.

Now after a week of living and decorating in my new home I still love it! It maybe doesn’t have enough storage space (like non), but it has a real kitchen (for my boyfriend to cook) and a western toilet. Me and my boyfriend already had some heated discussions about how our home should look like and basically disagree in everything. But still we have managed to make this place look and feel like home.

So if you are renting an apartment in China, just keep in mind these few tips:

– If you don’t speak and read fluent Chinese, have a Chinese friend to help and translate
– Forget the Chinese renting websites and head to the streets
– First find the location you want to live in and then find the property agents
– Find out the prices in the area for seeing a few apartments from different agents
– Make sure what you are actually paying every month
– After moving remember to register at the local police station