Finding a New Apartment in Shanghai

Finding a New Apartment In Shanghai

My first apartment in Shanghai was a lucky find. I had been traveling and staying in a hostel in Shanghai. I originally was going to stay a little bit and then it was off to Malaysia and back to a rural town in Shanxi province to teach in a University. Well I met some cool people in Shanghai and decided that I wanted to stay in the big city rather than in the middle of nowhere. My newfound friend had been doing some substitute teaching and met another American who was moving and wanted someone to take over his lease for the last  month. We took it over and ended up extending the lease two more times.

Originally this two bedroom pad on the 28th floor was 5000rmb a month. When we resigned the lease the rent rose to 5500 and the second time we extended the lease it jumped to 6200. With the new subway line under construction I wouldn’t be surprised if the landlord tried to jack the price up to 6500-7000.

I was looking for a new area , wanted to be closer to work so bike riding was more feasible, and my roommate and myself haven’t been getting along well for a while now. So it was time to move! And move I did.

While there are different internet options available it seems to me that websites in English are catered towards well to do people. I can not afford a 8000 rmb apartment. If you can read Chinese then a few sites I thought were pretty good are   http://www.anjia.com , http://www.soufu.com . However , many times the photos are not of the real apartment but you can get a feel for the area and general price.

The way I found a pad was by riding my bike around , scoping out the general areas, and then visiting many of the small real estate places scattered throughout the neighborhoods. You can tell the staff what can of place you want , price range , and neighborhood. They will show the options they have available , you can arrange to tour some apartments, and they can also inform you in the future if new options become available. We were told that right now (Early April) is not a good time to look , after Chinese New Year ( Early February this year) to the end of February is a better time to look due to students graduating and people returning to their hometowns and leaving behind apartments.  We weren’t very patient and managed to find one acceptable the first day. If we had held out perhaps a better option would have become available but I’m very pleased with the choice. The real estate guys will lead you to the houses on foot , or with their moto-scooters. We had bikes and one of the guys rode on the back of mine. Funny looking situation.

All in all we looked at 5 different places. Two were considerations , two were unacceptable , and one was totally amazing but a tad out of the price range right now. Damn.

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From the U.S of A to China

Before Shanghai I lived in a metropolis called Tianjin. Tianjin is a huge metro area outside of Beijing with 11.5 million people. This was my first experience at living in a big city. Hell, my whole state of Ohio has 11.5 million and interestingly enough is located at the same latitude as my university town of Kent, Ohio. (4 dead in Ohio baby!). Tianjin was my first leap into living in China and while I throughly enjoyed my time there and learned a lot, I like Shanghai much better.

I arrived in Tianjin, China on March 1st, 2010 after a hellish time trying to leave everything behind and depart from the U.S.A. Hellish due to insane snowfalls and madness trying to figure out new flight routes. Dang , I wasn’t planning on it originally but I have nothing better to do , I might as well add details. After saying goodbye to all my friends and having the most insane awesome goodbye party anyone could hope for (with the exception of Nate Dawg not coming) , saying goodbye to family , preparing myself to start a new life in a far far away land , staying up all night packing, and generally getting myself into a mindset of no coming back , my first flight from Cleveland to Detroit was cancelled. I was initially told that there was no other way besides waiting until next week. Huh?!?! , after getting into the state of mind of leaving , shedding my tears , and holding my life’s possession in my heavy suitcase there was absolutely no way that was acceptable. I stood in line for 3 hours while the poor workers went through all the possible options for me to make it to Beijing. After 3 hours finally an answer! , I was to fly to Toronto and make the connecting flight to Beijing but unfortunately mother nature reared her ugly head again. I waited and waited for the flight that would take me to Toronto to land but alas to no avail the runway had to be cleared first and the plane was stuck circling. By the time the plane had landed , it was too late to make the connecting flight and I was sent back again to the service center to wait in line for another 3 hours.

I send my love to the lovely woman who helped out on the next part of my journey, I literally stood in front of her counter while she worked out every possible angle to get me to Beijing. She was extremely grateful for my patience and I was equally grateful for her diligence in making my life changing move possible. I literally stood in front of the counter while she typed out and searched every possible connection for two entire hours. After her realization that the farthest I could make it today was San Francisco , I immediately called my aunt living in San Francisco to inquire about the possibility of meeting up with her. San Francisco also just happens to be my favorite city in the entire world so far so I was extremely pleased about all the line waiting and uncertainty. After getting in touch with the awesome Aunt Mary Beth and confirming that indeed I could stay at her apartment and BONUS! I could even stay at her slick pad for the night I was on my way to George Bush airport in Texas (laugh laugh) and then a transfer to good ole’ San Francisco. Finally I had a tearful totally unexpected reunion with my dear Aunt.! Woo hoo! Off to a grand start! I can totally overlook the weather delays for a day stop in San Fran and a hang out with my Auntie MB!.

Hmmm lets see. I think I will leave the trip to San Francisco for a separate post , maybe even for a post tomorrow. But finally after nearly 24 hours in airports and in planes I arrived on the west coast of the U.S.A. I had a day to relax in my favorite city and then it was time to leave the west coast , fly across the Pacific Ocean , and arrive on the east coast of China. More than a day after I should have arrived in Beijing I finally did. Bleary eyed , sleep deprived , exhausted , but very excited I finally arrived on March 1st , 2010. Experiencing a punch in the face as my language skills were very much not adequate for China I managed to purchase a bus ticket from Beijing airport to Tianjin. I travelled amongst a bunch of students returning to their respective universities in Tianjin. Being back in China after 3 years felt good. I once again experienced the chinese characters lit up at night all over the night and the still incomprehensible pop music blaring on the bus tv screens. Wow I’m back finally after dreaming for 3 years the day has finally come!

The bus ride was exciting though completely uneventful. Upon arriving in Tianjin I stupidly let the touts grab my bags and offer me the grand deal of 100 kuai to the university. Seeing as how I was exhausted from the 12 hour flight , waiting for delays , lugging multiple heavy bags , just wanting to arrive , and having no clue as of how far the university was , I accepted the offer and was very upset when the taxi drove for about ten minutes and let me off at my destination. It should have been like a 15 kuai ride. Grrrrrr! Nice reintroduction to China. An extremely tired introduction to the dorm managers , an intense realization of my Chinese was shit , and a discovery that my dorm was not in fact a single bedroom but a shared extremely tiny room later I was back!.

More on other details later but this is the story of the journey , over and out!