It’s that time of year again! Public school contracts are almost complete and companies are looking to rehire their teachers for the coming school year.
New teachers are preparing for departure from their home countries and so they are beginning to research their destination cities to prepare themselves for arrival. One of the first things you’ll do after orientation is chose an apartment. Here are 5 easy steps to help you chose an awesome apartment when you arrive.
1. Evaluate Locations
There tend to be two schools of thought about ideal locations when choosing an apartment in a large city:
• Choose an apartment in a trendy social scene and commute to school every day
• Choose an apartment very close to work and commute for social activities
Both ideologies have pros and cons, but I think it really comes down to personal habits. Some questions you should ask yourself are: Is proximity to the downtown important to you? Are you someone who fights for every extra minute of sleep?
Are you someone who can handle a commute with a large number of people on public transit? Do you want to be very close to your social life so you can arrive at a moments notice?
Once you’ve decided a location that fits your lifestyle, it’s time to go apartment hunting. Your school or recruiting company will probably be able to help you find reputable agents to show you apartments. In Southern China almost all apartments are shown via agents.
2. Prepare Financially
Apartments in China are much cheaper than in most western cities; however your first month will likely be a little more expensive than signing a lease at home.
In China, apartment buildings charge you a deposit equivalent to one month’s rent (which you can get back at the end of your lease provided the apartment isn’t damaged) and the first month of rent up front.
Once you decide on an apartment, you also need to pay the agent who showed it to you their fee, which is normally about half of a month’s rent. This works out to approximately 2.5 months of rent before you get the keys. While this is a slight inconvenience, it is standard practice and having the information ahead of time can help you arrive prepared.
It also helps to keep in mind the cost of start up items for your home such as cleaning products etc. If this seems daunting, a great way to cut costs and improve your social life is to consider finding a roommate. This can be a great money saving measure as having a roommate helps with the cost of rent, deposits, management fees, food and more.
3. Consider Eastern vs Western Amenities
As you may know, there are differences between typical western homes and those in Asia. The most noticeable differences will likely be the bathroom and bedroom.
I enjoy a really hard mattress, and when I was apartment shopping I found that China was really accommodating to my preferences. Mattresses here range from a thin flat hard surface to the softer styles that westerners are used to at home. When choosing a furnished apartment, don’t be afraid to lay on the bed to make sure it is suitable for you!
Showers in China are not typically encased and the squat toilets can seem a little tricky at first. While apartment shopping, I made it a goal to find a home with a western toilet and to experiment with the new type of shower (these options are readily available).
With time I became accustomed to using the other type of toilet, but it certainly gave me an adjustment buffer to have something familiar in my own bathroom.
4.Keep Seasonal Weather in Mind
Winter in Southern China is damp and a little chilly. Apartments in China don’t use heating like in western countries, so your apartment will not likely have a thermostat. One of the ways to help keep a comfortable climate in your home is to have a South facing window.
This means you’ll get more of the sun during the colder months and worry less about dampness. South facing apartments are often a little more expensive, so alternative options include portable heaters or dehumidifiers.
5. Be Realistic About Storage
Many westerners bring as many things from home with them as can fit in their suitcases. When evaluating apartment options, keep in mind all the things you have with you, and the things you’re likely to acquire while living in a new place.
Making sure you have somewhere to store your suitcases and items properly will make your new home much more comfortable.
So there you have it! Follow these 5 easy steps and you should find an apartment which meets your needs and can accommodate your new lifestyle as a teacher!