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Tips on finding a humble abode in Shanghai
By Pan Zheng

CHOOSING a place to live can be tricky for expatriates, who may not be so familiar with Shanghai.

The first decision to be made is whether to buy or rent. But remember, foreigners in Shanghai can only buy if they have lived in China for one year or longer.

The following information may help when looking to rent an apartment in the city.

Picking a location

Choosing the right location is important. There are several areas and communities in the city where a large number of expats reside. Hongqiao, Gubei, Huangpu, Jing’an and Xuhui are popular among many expats on the west side of the Huangpu River. Green City and Lianyang communities in the Pudong New Area are other common choices for expatriates.

“Theoretically you can choose anywhere to live, but we recommend the popular international communities because usually they have better facilities, language services and a quieter environment. I’ll help you to get used to your new home quickly”, a real estate agent suggested.

Housing options include everything from luxurious garden villas to small bachelor pads.

Renting a place

Most landlords trust agencies to find tenants. Remember when selecting an agency, check its qualifications. Only some agencies have English language services for expats.

The agent will let you look at a property before signing a rental agreement. Take a good look, carefully inspecting furniture, facilities and appliances. Also try to learn something about the neighborhood, like whether it’s noisy or quiet, and neighbors if possible.

In most cases you’ll negotiate the rent with the agent. The location and size of the place are the biggest factors in the rent. Rents for high-end apartments start at US$3,000 month, while a small one-bedroom apartment will cost US$1,000 to US$2,000 a month, depending on the location. Apartments in non-prime areas or on the top or ground floor may be cheaper.

Bring your passport when signing the rental agreement.

Police registration

According to local regulations, foreigners have to register their new address with the police within 24 hours. If staying in a hotel before renting, staff there can take care of this for you. If you move into an expat community, ask the building’s management staff to look into the matter.

Three certificates are needed for registration — passport and visa, rental agreement and landlord’s proof of ownership.

Find a good agency

There are numerous housing agencies in Shanghai. Here are some good options.

Shanghai Supercity Property Consultant Co Ltd

Established in 1993, it is one of the leading “full real estate service” providers in China.

Address: Rm 703, Shanghai International Trade Center, 2201 Yan’an Rd W.

Tel: 6270-1584

Website: www.supercity.com.cn

Joanna Real Estate Consultant Co Ltd

Established in 1993, it has rapidly expanded to become one of the largest luxury residential service providers in China.

Address: Rm A1103, 580 Nanjing Rd W.

Tel: 5228-5528

Website: www.joannarealestate.com.cn/shanghai/

Merry Home Real Estate & Relocation Services

It provides a comprehensive range of high-quality, customized residential property services for both corporate and individual clients.

Address: Rm 503, 15 Dongping Rd

Tel: 6431-2651

Website: www.merryhome.com

Customer Service: (86-21) 52920164