Advice from a real estate expert on finding accommodation in Beijing
Tina Li has been working in the expat housing and relocation services field in China for over 13 years, and is currently a partner at Greenpath Relocation and Real Estate Services in Beijing. Here she shares her insights and answers some of the most common questions expats have about finding accommodation in Beijing.
Q: What options are available for expats in Beijing to rent property?
A: There is a wide choice of housing for expats in Beijing. Most expats prefer living in the high-end properties developed or newly renovated in recent years due to better quality, design, security and management service than local developments. We call these “expats housing compounds”, which are categorised as serviced apartments, high-end apartments and high-end villas. In recent years, a new concept of serviced apartments has appeared in China, which are owned by individual landlords and rented at much lower rental than traditional serviced apartments.
Q: What areas of Beijing do most expats and foreigners live in?
Q: What documents are needed when renting a property in Beijing?
A: No documents are required when signing a contract for renting a property. But once expats arrive in China, proper documents must be obtained step by step according to immigration policy. All expats need to be registered at the local police office within 24 hours upon arrival in China.
Q: Are there options available for furnished accommodation in Beijing?
A: Most apartments available in Beijing are fully furnished or to be furnished by landlords upon request, except for a small percentage of landlords who have no time to take care of the apartment, and would rather wait for a tenant who brings their own furniture. About 30-40 percent of villas are rented unfurnished or partly furnished, as many expat families prefer shipping their own furniture over to Beijing.
Q: What is the average cost per month to rent a two-bedroom apartment in Beijing?
A: There is a wide choice of apartments in Beijing. The rental for a two-bedroom apartment can range from 8,000 to 45,000 RMB per month, depending on the location, quality, and services of the apartment building or compound. For most expats who move to Beijing under an expatriate package, the two-bedroom apartments they rent are between 20,000 and 30,000 RMB per month.
Q: What is the average cost per month to rent a three-bedroomed villa/house in Beijing?
A:For a three-bedroom townhouse or semi-detached house, the average cost per month is between 25,000 and 35,000 RMB. For a three-bedroom single/detached villa the average cost per month is 40,000-50,000 RMB.
Q: Are foreigners allowed to buy property in Beijing?
A: Yes, but in order to curb foreign capital in driving up the property price, the authorities in Beijing have issued regulations stipulating only expatriates living in Beijing for more than one year and those who could provide details proving they would be the primary inhabitants could buy one house in Beijing. Mortgages are available from both domestic and foreign banks.
Q: Are utilities (such as water and electricity) normally included in the rental costs?
Q: How much deposit is normally required for securing accommodation?
A: In order to secure a property, the deposit might be from a few thousand RMB to one month’s rental. If the landlord is an individual, the amount of deposit is up for negotiation and the landlord’s expectation. A few serviced apartments even require two months’ deposit during the high season. However, many serviced apartments accept credit card authorisation.
Q: Do expats need to go through an agent to rent property in Beijing?
A: Most expats go through an agent to rent property in Beijing, or through leasing office/department or management office of a compound, which is, as a matter of fact, an agent as well. A real estate agent specialising in expat housing will efficiently assist expats to find accommodation among all housing options in Beijing. A professional agent will act on expat’s best interest and provide follow-up service during the expat’s whole tenancy term. Agent services are free to expats in Beijing, as agents are normally paid by the landlord.
Q: Do most agents speak English or will a translator most likely be needed?
A: Real estate agents specialising in expat housing can usually speak English. A translator is not necessary at all, unless expats are exploring local communities through a local agent.
Q: What language are rental contracts written in?
A: Rental contracts can be written in both English and Chinese if a foreigner is involved. However, should any dispute arise, the Chinese version shall prevail.
Q: What is the best way to find accommodation in Beijing?
A: The best way is to hire a real estate agency specialsing in assisting expats to find accommodations in Beijing. Most of the classified property information in magazines, newspapers, websites, is provided by agents instead of real landlords. However, the information could be used for references or comparison. From time to time, you may find a direct landlord of a few apartments or villas.
Q: Is there any other advice you would like to offer expats who are looking for accommodation in Beijing?
A: In order to avoid any potential problems occurring during your lease, pay attention to the following points when you are looking for an apartment or house in Beijing:
Further reading:►Accommodation in Beijing
►Cost of Living in Beijing