The first thing you do as an expat when arriving in China (or any country), is look for a home! Finding a home in China is easy. There are numerous property agents located at most street corners or outside apartment buildings. The only issue is that if you don't speak Mandarin or Cantonese, then you may need to take a friend or colleague with you. Most Western firms that send out expats have an HR personal responsible for the expats and they will take care of showing you the homes. The next big process is getting the medical, work permit and the resident visa- all of which can take at least two months to fully complete. So, if you are thinking of coming to China and work here, then be prepared to go through the long process of first settling into your new life.
The only major risk is going to be: if you are still in the probation period (which is at least 3-6 months), then you may risk renting a flat for a year if you don't pass your probation period (that's IF you decide not to stay in China or if you decide to move to another city in China). Most landlords require you to sign a one-year lease with a two month deposit - in Beijing you may be required to give a six-month rental deposit up front. So think very carefully of the financial and personal risks you may face if things don't go as planned with your job. China is NOT cheap anymore.
The cost of rental in Shenzhen is on the increase. Back in 2009, a one-bedroom home with a 39sqm would have been around 2,500RMB a month (250 GBP), however in 2015 it is around 4,500 RMB a month (approx. 450 GBP per month). For a two-bedroom home in a nice area, you are looking at paying around 6,500RMB a month: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Renting or purchasing accommodation in China can be a daunting experience for expats if one cannot speak the language (and understand the culture). The good news is that provided you know what you are looking for, and know how to bargain with the estate agents, then it can be just that little bit easier. Property agents, such as the ones pictured above, are available in abundance and normally you can just walk in to see a home at the last minute without appointment (except of course if you want to visit an affluent apartment). Some estate agents are even open until the late hours (11pm!!).
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