Accommodation in Guangzhou

There is a variety of options when it comes to finding accommodation in Guangzhou. At first, most newcomers rent an apartment in the city, usually for a one-year lease period.

Expats living in the city centre often have better access to their workplaces but have to put up with more pollution and noise. Those choosing to live in the surrounding suburbs might have cleaner air, but will have to navigate the heavy Guangzhou traffic and long public transport commutes.

Types of accommodation in Guangzhou

Each area of Guangzhou has its own types of accommodation, but most expats live in apartments. A quieter area such as Haizhu is popular for high-rise apartment blocks running parallel with the Pearl River. Tianhe has a wide variety of modern apartment buildings, luxury apartments and corporate housing.

Aside from standard unfurnished apartments, high-earning expats will have access to serviced apartments in various areas of the city. This furnished accommodation will allow for a more comfortable initial transition to living in Guangzhou.

Tenants generally pay a monthly utility bill to the landlord or property management company, which in turn pays the utility company. It is not unusual to have the utilities included in the rent as a set fee, except for long-distance telephone charges which are billed separately.

Finding accommodation in Guangzhou

The easiest way to find accommodation in Guangzhou is through a real estate agency. Expats who want to take a more hands-on approach are able to search English-language media and online property portals.

The most important thing an expat house-hunter needs to know going into their search is how they want to live - both in terms of the type of home and the area it is situated in. Many tenants try to live close to their workplace or to their children’s school, while others choose to live outside of the city but close to public transport.

This decision has to be weighed up against each individual's budget. While many people want to live in a cosmopolitan area with fine dining and outdoor activities, not everyone can afford it. Luckily, Guangzhou’s size means that expats will have a wide variety of accommodation options.

Renting property in Guangzhou

The first step for many prospective tenants is to hire a real estate agent. In expat-friendly areas, local agents often have experience in dealing with foreign clients, which makes the rental process a bit easier. It is often necessary, however, to get the help of a bilingual friend or colleague.

It is important for expats to clearly communicate their requirements for an apartment as well as their budget. Properties in Guangzhou are often rented quickly, and time wasted on unsuitable properties can be costly.

To avoid surprises later on, expats should ask their agent how much commission they will have to pay after the lease is signed. It is also important to find out the amount the owner expects as a deposit, as well as whether there are any additional annual or monthly fees.

Furthermore, expats should ask about amenities such as air conditioning, the plumbing system and whether the landlord has ownership documents in their possession before signing the lease.

Most of the time, after these concerns have been addressed, expats sign the lease contract with the agent and the landlord, pay their first month’s rent and a security deposit of around two months’ rent, as well as the agent’s commission.

The tenant should provide the landlord and the agency a copy of their passport, and they, in turn, should give the tenant a copy of their property ownership certificate and business licence, respectively.

As soon as they have moved in, expat tenants should go and register their address at the nearest Public Security Bureau.

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