Useful tips have been provided on how to navigate contract specifics, but the most potent question perhaps is, who is going to assist you to secure your new spot? Agents, you will either meet them at the apartment location or they’ll pick you up from your location. An agent’s effectiveness is dictated by your proactivity, the more specific you get, the easier it becomes for them to help you. You will communicate with agents through WeChat , this is convenient as you can ask them as many questions via text, as you like. They will also ensure that you comply with the government requirement to register with the local police within the first 24hrs of moving in, show you how to pay for your utilities and show you the local amenities. Correspondence will be maintained for the duration of your contract, to assist with anything within their powers.
Ziroom is the biggest company here in Beijing or at least they have a massive footprint, in my opinion. They have offices all over Beijing their offices a marked with a green and white logo “LIANGIA” They have agents in most if not all the regions in Beijing. They offer an app with where you can browse the available properties and you can filter results with, region, type, price, proximity to subway station etc... This app is used for paying rent, requesting cleaning services and setting up the passcode for the digital keypad on your door. The app is in Mandarin but they there’s an option for International service (English)The app that allows you to have virtual tours of the rooms you are interested in, but I always recommend a physical viewing. Tapping the map/location tab at the bottom brings up the map of Beijing, by zooming in on the preferred region the app will bring up all the available apartments in that area. Every listing has contact details for the “Ziroom Officers” ZO at the bottom. The app is an effective way of seeing what is available, there are live chats and the ZO can also type in English. The app is available on the Apple app store.
Admittedly, this sounds like an advertisement for Ziroom, this is only because they are an organisation naturally they have a lot going for them.
There are also freelance Agents all over Beijing, equally as competent as Ziroom agents. They have a very close-knit network so if you wish to live in a region they do not cover, they can recommend their peers by sharing contact cards. Freelance agents may not have a fancy app and digital keypad locks on all their listing but are effective in their own way. By way of illustration, meet Rainbow, she covers Wudaoko and Lidauko area. I was given her details by my colleague. Rainbow lives in Wudauko (This area has several International Universities and as a result masses of expatriate students) near most of the accommodation she manages. As a result, Rainbow has intimate knowledge of the area, from gyms to the venue with the best burgers. I say all this to emphasize that even though some agents are freelance they should not be underestimated.
Agents will generally try to get rid of the hard sells first, it’s nothing personal they are just doing their jobs. So do your job as well and look out for yourself. Agents always have something up their sleeve, that one property “that just became available” or “someone else just viewed this and they said they like it” although this may be true sometimes just focus on the task at hand. Generally, the property industry is notorious for its fast pace wherever you are in the world, but in the capital of China, it's dizzying, if you dally too much the property you want will be snatched by a keen bean, think fast but avoid making hasty decisions. The agents will be proactive and line up about 3 properties that suit your specifications but just to make sure expressly ask them to line up more than one that fits your description. View the whole lineup and then make an informed decision.
There’s a lot of anxiety and pressure when it comes to finding a place even when you’re not abroad! You will get people from your intake group who will find places in a blink of an eye, they’ll be so pleased about conquering that hurdle, you’ll see it on their face, and you’ll hear it in their voices. Don’t get jealous, don’t panic, everyone has different checklists and what they find important when they are searching for properties. Focus on your preferences because you will be living in this place for a year, so take your time!