How To Rent An Apartment In Beijing

How To Rent An Apartment In Beijing

I’ve lived in Beijing for over two years now and I think I’ve experienced most situations that one can come across when trying to rent an apartment in Beijing. The first time wasn’t so straightforward because I didn’t do my research but subsequent apartments I lived in were easy and hassle-free.  So I thought it might helpful to provide some tips to those of you considering moving over here or soon to be renters.

When considering to rent an apartment in Beijing, you should be clear on the following things that will save you time, money and stress:

1. Budget
Before you even venture out and see apartments available to rent, you should ask yourself, how much are you willing to pay each month for rent. You have to bear in mind that rent is paid quarterly here and you’ll have to front another months rent on top as the security deposit.

This is the norm here so don’t be surprised if the agent or landlord says you need to pay 3 months rent + 1 months deposit to secure an apartment. For example, if the monthly rent for an apartment was 2000RMB, you’ll need to front 6000RMB (3 months rent) + 2000RMB (1 months deposit). This is a total of 8000RMB.

My first rented apartment in Beijing

My first rented apartment in Beijing

If you go through an agent, you may have to also pay the agent an “finders fee”, which is usually equal to one months rent so that’s another 2000RMB on top. So that’s a total of 10,000RMB! I believe the landlord should pay this but I’ve heard from other expats paying the “finders fee” to the agent. From my experience, I have never paid the “finders fee”.

Of course, if you go directly to the landlord, there will be room for bargaining the price of the rent and how it’s paid etc. The important thing to remember is once you have set a budget for yourself, to stick to it. Some agents are notorious for showing expats apartments that are out of their budget so be clear and stick to it.

2. Apartment Requirements
What I find helps me better find a apartment to rent is to list some basic requirements that I want. Remember, you will be paying at least 3 months rent up front so it’s important that the apartment that you choose to live in meets your requirements. After all, you’ll have to live in the apartment for at least 3 months before you can move out unless you can find someone else to take over your contract (I’ll cover later below).

Some requirements that you should consider are:

I. Size of the rooms
II. Bathroom
III. Cleanliness
IV. Hot water
V. Air conditioner
VI. Furnished Vs. non-furnished
VII. Internet

Having a list of requirements will make finding a suitable apartment easier so ensure you make such a list before you see any apartment.

3. Location
When you have set your budget, you’ll need to pick a location. Beijing is split into a number of ring roads and depending on where you work, study or want to live, choosing a suitable location is solely dependent on your budget.

For example, if you want live outside the 4th ring road, you’ll find bigger and cheaper apartments but if you work within the 3rd ring road, commuting will be a nightmare.

If you have a car, pick a location next to a ring road. If you commute by subway, pick a location reasonably close to a subway (obviously). If you commute by bus, pick a location reasonable close to a bus stop (double obviously).

Your budget will solely determine the location you can pick so do your homework and research the average prices in the areas you are interested in.

4. Apartment Building
Once you have picked a few locations you would happily live in, pick a few buildings in the area. Trust me, you save yourself a lot of time and hassle with agencies because they could just end up showing you apartment buildings you don’t want.

My second rented apartment in Beijing

My second rented apartment in Beijing

It is recommended to see apartment buildings that are newly built because you can avoid a lot of headaches that are associated with old run-down buildings such as cleanliness, bugs, smell and regular building maintenance.

5. Go see Agencies
Seeing agents can be a nightmare specially if you aren’t fluent in Chinese so it’s important to bring someone who is, as most agents don’t speak English. When you do go see an agent its important to:

I. Visit more than one agent in the area, as the prices can differ from agent to agent.
II. Tell them your requirements up front
III. Tell them to show you more than one apartment that meets your requirements

If you fail to show the agents your requirements up front, you will be shown apartments that are either out of your budget, don’t meet your requirements or just not in the location you wanted.

6. Bargain
As this is China, there is always room to bargain so don’t accept the first price that is quoted to you. Always try to bargain between 100-500RMB cheaper. Don’t forget the landlord is eager to rent the apartment as much as you want to find a place to live so your bargaining power is high.

7. Other
I. You must register with the local police station by bringing along a copy of your landlords ID, contract and your passport so you can get the temporary residence permit.
II. You will lose a months security deposit if you decide to move out or terminate the contract early. A solution is to find someone else to take over your apartment or live out the duration of the contract.
III. You can avoid agents and go on classified sites like and On these sites, you can find landlords offering apartments for rent or expats looking for roommates. Beware as some agents pose as landlords online.

I hope this post makes renting an apartment in Beijing a little easier. Did I miss anything? Share your tips or experiences on how to make renting an apartment in Beijing easier for us.


  • Monica Zhang

    Love this entry as well! I wish I lived in Beijing

    • Ving

      Cheers, Monica. Maybe you will one day. ;)