Renting your first expat apartment in Beijing

Renting your first expat apartment in Beijing

Renting your first expat apartment in Beijing

Finding the right home at the right price in Beijing

It has to be said that many new expats arriving in China’s capital city expect rentals to be at bargain prices, not realising commercial reality strikes in Beijing just as it does elsewhere on the planet. Even so, apartment rents are still far cheaper than in London, Hong Kong or New York and cheaper still in the massive conurbations suburban areas. If living on a budget is mandatory, renting a hutong apartment gives an authentic Chinese experience amid a fascinating Chinese community.

Beijing is one of those cities which has everything for everyone, with finding an area right for your needs an adventure at best and a drag at worst. Most expats congregate in just a handful of areas, giving a ready-made community for even the most nervous new arrivals. Trendy Sanlitun is popular for its restaurant and bars, and is home to embassies and high-rise office blocks, but its traffic jams and high rents are the downside.

Younger expats should enjoy the university area of Wudaokou and, for expats in the tech sector, Zhongguancun is China’s equivalent of Silicon Valley although it’s a long commute from the city centre. Th plethora of students means rents are kept to a minimum. Beijing’s central business district of Shuangjing offers a wide choice of stores and services but, again, it’s traffic which is the major downside.

For expats on reassignment with their families, Shunyi is already an expat favourite for its proximity to international schools, gated housing complexes and upscale shopping malls. However, for adventurous expats wanting to live the Chinese lifestyle, hutong areas are where it’s at. These genuinely ancient alleyways crisscross Dongcheng and Xicheng districts, lined with the walled courtyard hutongs themselves containing traditional homes often upgraded into charming, small studio apartments. Hutong living is essentially a community-based experience, something many millennial expatriates have never been part of. If you’re in China because you’ve always been fascinated by its amazing history and heritage, the hutongs are for you.

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