Guide to Living in Beijing, China, Moving

Renting an Apartment – Guide to Living in Beijing, China

The next thing that you will require when moving to China, after receiving your visa is renting an apartment. It is advised to physically be there to choose, however, you can start looking in advance. And here are a few tips on how to find an apartment in Beijing.

How to find an apartment

Unfortunately, when you move to China, nowadays Google will not be much of help, firstly, because it is blocked in China, secondly, it will only suggest English websites, which offer extremely expensive accommodation.

In case you don’t have unlimited budget, I would suggest looking for alternatives on Chinese websites such as lianjia,


In case you have no one who could help, you could try renting apartment through the local agency, which has an app, only in Chinese, but it is still quite easy to navigate. The app and agency name is Lianjia. In Beijing you can actually find offices everywhere, so maybe you wouldn’t need to use the app itself.

However, if you are still not in China, I suggest to download this app 链家. All you need to choose is the word rental and the location on the map you are interested in. After that you choose the apartment you like and the agent who represents that apartment will be available. After that they usually offer you two-three options for apartments, which are around the same size and price category.

It is actually the cheapest and the most convenient way to find an apartment in Beijing.

Agent Fee for rent. 

In Beijing all agents require an agent fee, which more or less equals monthly rent.  This is charge for the agency support during the search and also throughout your entire stay. I normally contact them when I have any kind of maintenance emergencies, challenges with utilities payment or any paperwork regarding my accommodation.

In order to apply for a living permit, you require a certificate from the police office of the area, where you stay. As my employer did not assist me in getting that. I have contacted the agent and she helped me to get me the required in 30 mins. Another time, when my registration was over, they actually took me to the police and made sure everything went smooth.

Three months advance payment. 

This actually makes renting apartment in Beijing quite challenging because it is not always possible that you can afford three months rental in the first place. Anyways, this is a requirement. In China, it is less likely that you will pay on monthly basis, most of the apartments require three months advance payment.

Deposit for renting an apartment.

So on top of the payment for three months and an agent fee you also have to be ready to pay an additional one month rental fee as deposit. Obviously, if nothing is damaged and kept properly, the deposit is refunded after you finish renting apartment. But for the beginning of rent it all sums up to five months advance payment.

Fapiao for payback.

Many companies that invite foreigners to work in China usually bear the expense for your rent. However, in order to compensate they require an official receipt, which is called Fapiao in China. In order to get it, you need to get official seal from your company and submit to agent for them to prepare your documents. Issuing Fapiao is all not free of charge, it has a fee of around CNY 215 for 3 months receipt.

Renting apartment – rental to expect?

When you are negotiating the terms of the contract you need to know what to ask for. When I was looking for a job I didn’t properly do my research and I did not know what to expect for the rates for renting an apartment,

If you would like to have a studio in the center, you should dedicate at least CNY7000-8000, if you want it close to Sanlitun in some expat apartment building, you should expect even more. Should you look for something within line 10 but outside line 2, you might expect around CNY4500-6000. Finally, in case you don’t mind leaving really far out, CNY3000-4000.

As for the utilities, mostly you have to pay gas, electricity and water. For a one-bedroom apartment of around 50 sq m expect to pay the bill of CNY700 per month.

In many apartments, Internet charge will also be separate and it is around CNY200 per month.

Think and search carefully for an apartment in Beijing as it is not always the same as pictures. Take your time and have a look at apartments, checking every detail. Chinese rental agencies are very detail-oriented and as a foreigner you should be very careful.

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