What to expect when looking for an apartment in Chengdu.

Apartment hunting in China can be somewhat exasperating. If you don’t speak the language that is.

Once you have gotten over that hurdle, it can still be troublesome. Since searching in Chengdu, I’ve become accustomed to expecting less, apartment wise. So this is not a general view of all of China, just Chengdu.

Here, there are three types of buildings, old, moderately new, and new. We’ve been to all three. But, a new building doesn’t necessarily mean a nice, clean apartment.

I was expecting; new building equals a nice apartment. Wrong. We visited a few new buildings. Yeah they look nice on the outside; modern, clean. But walk down the hallways and you realise it’s all a show. The doors are plastered with either stickers or posters denoting the Spring Festivals. The hallways themselves are sometimes dirty with little lighting. So; hallway not so good, but maybe the apartment itself will be nice.

I was wrong again. You enter into dust, literally. For some reason, the Chinese people, when renting, don’t seem to clean their apartments. Dust gathers everywhere. There are bowls with spices in them, dirty cups. I’ve came to the conclusion that there are so many people in China, there will bound to be someone that will rent it. However the conditions.

Now I can’t exactly judge in Ireland, as I’ve never lived in an apartment, but I reckon they may actually try and make the apartment reasonable looking.

In some apartments you won’t find a table or any chairs. With our apartment we don’t have chairs so we will have to buy them. You may not find a cooker, meaning having to buy a portable one. Maybe no TV, air con, no western toilet. One thing that I need is air con, as I get cold very quickly.

In our new sitting room there is one, but in the bedroom no. So we will either invest in a portable one or buy a second hand one to install. In most Chengdu apartments there will only be one; in the bedroom or the sitting room. The Chinese think ‘open the doors and the warmth will travel’. I disagree. I’m used to the roaring hot fires from Ireland. A measly air con blowing warm air wont do it.

They also don’t consider if something, such as a bed or a sofa will actually fit in the room. They have no conception of whether it would be suitable for the area. They think ‘I want a big bed’ and they will get it, regardless of if it will actually FIT in the room! We saw one where the bed was that big you couldn’t close the bedroom door.

In another apartment there was a rather nice L shaped sofa. But, the L part cornered off an area of the room, presumably a reading area. So you literally had to step over the L part of the sofa to get to this. My thinking ‘Just because you like the sofa, doesn’t mean you can buy it…get a measuring tape!’

As for bathrooms, some are tiny!! They are that small that the sink is located outside the bathroom itself. We saw one where literally there was a the shower less than 1 foot away from the toilet, and that was the whole bathroom.

And if you want a Western toilet, you need to say it to the agency. Many are squatters which the Chinese prefer, and especially in the older buildings. Another thing, older buildings wont have an elevator, so be prepared to walk up 7 flights of stairs. And these are the apartments that are usually available to rent, because no one wants to walk 7 flights.

So in conclusion; be prepared for some not so nice apartments. Now you may be lucky and find a gorgeous one, and a lot is by luck and if the agency shows you a suitable one….

But, keep looking and you’ll find the one that’s just right!


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