The New Place

Dun-dun-dun-duh! Introducing the new place! I have moved from the “outskirts” of the border of Putuo/Jingan Districts right into Huangpu district and the heart of the former French Concession.

The move took me from the 28th (of28) floor (I will miss the sick view) of a new high-rise apartment building into the 5th (of6) floor of an old 70s style building with no elevator. The hallways are a sort of storage space for old junk from the apartments and the neighbors are always up to something.

The day we moved in I was greeted with a great big “HELLO!” from the elderly man one story below who was sitting outside his door fashioning some sort of hook with a hammer and pieces of metal. I responded with a “Ni hao” and this sent him into a sort of hysteria calling back to his wife in Shanghainese ( I can understand some) “Hey hey the foreigner can speak Chinese!!” This guy’s apartment has a self built wooden plank complete with an eye-test posted on it that he uses to slide over the main door when they retire for the evening.

Every time I make the climb up the stairs I can hear the sounds of a community. The sizzle of a wok comes out from the kitchen window and the smells of all sorts of food entice me. The third floor window often emits the noises of a Shanghainese family playing Mahjong. The tiles were clattering around for 3 houses yesterday. The morning often features the older residents out the hallways washing the days vegetables and every morning as I come out into my kitchen the lonely sound of a violin wafts through the air.

Now onto the layout. The community is accessed through brick alleyway that connects to the main tree-lined street. On the outside we have a little guard booth which lies next to a roofed bike parking area. The keycode for the building gate is punched in to gain access to the stairs of the building. My apartment opens into the kitchen. Turning to right has the door to the small windowless living room. To the right in the living is our bathroom and straight ahead is the bedroom. The bathroom is also quite small and the shower window opens out into the hallway. Due to this feature I tend to shower first , get dressed, and then air out the room. The bedroom is decently sized and has curtains which can be closed to isolate the bed from the windowed area that juts out facing the street. We have a little metal rack to hang clothes outside the window and a little rack to grow plants.

The furnishings are all pretty cheap and the apartment is  smaller than the last one but it’s my own (well as much my own as renting a place can get) and the location is hard to beat. Definitely the best feature.

The trendy art/shop/cafe/bar old style Shanghai shikumen-architecture is a two-minute bike ride from the place , the newly developed garden community/cafe area of JiaShan Market is a two-minute walk away ( I love Melange Oasis coffee shop!) , the bustling restaurant/bar street of YongkangLu is only a five-minute bike ride away. This street also has Shanghai’s first boutique beer store. I can grab some Rogue Dead Guy Ales, BeerLaos, and 30 others for pretty good prices. Bye Bye Tsingtao! Hengshan Lu bar street is only about 10 minutes bike ride away and my two favorite microbreweries (Shanghai Brewery and Boxing Cat Brewery) are also easy bike rides .Another great thing is that I can ride my bicycle everyday to work. No more I hate the world moments being pushed around into a packed to overcapacity metro rides. WOOHOOOO. Leaving my new house at the same time as the old house I now get to work half an hour early. Only about 20 minutes on bike! Being in the center of coolness does have a downside. Anybody got any spare change? 🙂

 

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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.