What Is A Typical Beijing Apartment For Expats Really Like?

Living in a Beijing apartment was something that I was really looking forward to! I spent so many hours trawling the internet before we had even signed a contract looking at other people’s apartments, and researching on what to expect in relation to price and standards.

The cost of living in Beijing depends on your lifestyle, but generally, it’s very low for ESL teachers. Housing is the most expensive aspect of most people’s lives, so take a look at ours to get an idea of what you could buy for your budget. If you’re looking to live in a traditional hutong, then you’ll pay less but have fewer amenities. If you’re looking for a Beijing apartment for expats specifically, then you will pay a lot more but have plenty of home comforts!

Read More: 8 Reasons Why You Should Move To Beijing

A large block of flats in Beijing China
Beijing apartment buildings are always super high

Our First Beijing Apartment

When we finally settled on moving to Beijing, I was annoyed that there weren’t as many videos or photos to look at of Beijing apartments for expats. We weren’t sure whether we would be living in a tiny box studio or a penthouse suite!

We were really lucky with ours so I thought I would share some pictures – we paid 4000RMB (£460) per month for this two-bedroom in Beijing, which is incredible. You wouldn’t even get a room in a smelly London flat for that price!

Read More: Our Helpful Tips For Renting An Apartment In China

Living Area

Our living room was spacious and light, but it was also equipped with the world’s most uncomfortable sofa, as well as the oldest TV known to man. We weren’t really too worried about this when we signed because we didn’t actually test the sofa, and we can’t understand Chinese anyway so were sure that our Netflix account would do the job!

In hindsight, we probably would have asked the landlord to buy more comfortable seating or at least some pretty cushions because it’s ridiculous to have springs digging into the daintiest of body parts.

Also, watching television on our laptop was fine but it means searching for something specific that you want to watch and then sitting down to watch it – sometimes it would be nice just to have some background noise whilst we were lesson planning or cooking.

A chinese apartment living room wth an old lime green sofa and wooden floor
We kept the plant alive!

Dining Area

We also had a small dining area which is where we ate, planned lessons and sometimes watched TV. It opened out the apartment which was nice because each room was very accessible.

A typical dining area in a chinese apartment
Yes, that’s the protective plastic still on the dining table


Our kitchen matched the lime green colour of the sofa and it was blindingly gross but it could have been a lot worse I guess! We ended up buying a small oven like this one which sat next to the sink, but apart from that, this was a typical Chinese apartment as it only has two hobs. There was plenty of cupboard space but limited counter space so making a big meal could sometimes get frustrating!

A lime green example of a typical chinese apartment kitchen
green glorious green

Read More: How Much Does It Cost To Live In Beijing

Laundry Room

Our little laundry room was quite handy because it meant that the washing machine didn’t get in the way of anything else. As you can see, we also stored our BBQ in there so every time we washed clothes, we were reminded of burgers and sausages which was nice…

The washing machine itself only washed in cold water, which is a standard in most Chinese apartments! I personally can’t see how cold water can wash as well as hot water, so we used to boil a big pan and sometimes use the hot shower water to top up the wash – very annoying! Luckily, in our third year here, the apartment we rented had a normal front-loading, hot washing machine!

A space in a chinese apartment for storage and laundry
The world’s worst washing machine


Our bathroom was, again, typically Chinese! Although not so Chinese that we had to squat when we use the toilet! The shower was just a shower head hidden behind a curtain, so the floor became flooded each time we showered. It drained pretty well but having a soaking wet floor in the whole of the bathroom did get annoying!

A typical chinese bathroom wet room tiled throughout
yes, the bin is there for toilet paper. don’t be flushing yours down the loo because you WILL block the system

Read More: 10 Things To Know Before Moving To China


The main bedroom was quite basic but we didn’t spend too much time in there. There was a wardrobe across the whole length of the wall opposite the window, so that served us pretty well. The bed was rock hard but that’s to be expected in China.

If you have a standard Chinese bed like this, you have 3 choices. You can either suck it up and complain of back problems for the whole of your time here. Or, you could ask your landlord if you can replace the bed. That’s what we did in our second year – IKEA has plenty of good quality and relatively cheap beds & mattresses and it’s so worth it.

If you don’t want to spend that much money, you could just look into find a mattress topper like this.

A large bedroom with wooden flooring in Beijing
we should probably have bought a clothesline

Finally….the unwanted spare room! Actually, it was been quite useful for storing stuff and for when people stayed over, but we didn’t actively look for a two-bedroom apartment in Beijing. The agency told us there were no one-bedroom places available, and to be honest this one was so cheap that it was just a nice little bonus.

We told ourselves that we could use this for when we need to plan lessons or do any blog work, but the desk just became more of a storage space for now!

A medium sized room in a typical beijing apartment
Decent-sized spare bedroom too!

Read More: 4 Things You’ll Definitely Need In Beijing

So there you have it! A little insight into our first typical Beijing apartment. Was it what you expected? Have you seen any better or worse places to live in China? Comment below and let us know!


  1. Pingback: How Much Does It Cost To Live In Beijing? - Two Tall Travellers

  2. What a cute little space!! I was under the impression that apartments in China were expensive, that’s cheaper than what’s in my area! For 400 British pounds/500 US$, you might get a one bedroom (in Wisconsin, though it varies from state to state) or just an apartment with a combined bedroom/living room.

    1. You’re totally right, the price is nothing compared to the UK. However we are a little out of the centre so that makes a little but of a difference. We are still only 20 minutes from the centre though!

    1. This year our matress was so hard we had to go to IKEA and buy a new bed and mattress, we couldn’t actually sleep on it, we slept on the sofa for a month.

  3. That was a great tour of your apartment. I love posts like this, and actually the sofa looks nice – too bad that it doesn’t feel nice.

    1. The sofa looks nice, photos can be extremely deceiving haha! Every bump you can see in the photo is the end of a large spring. You cannot sit on that sofa full stop.

    1. Yer it is, a little too big if i’m honest. The price over here is so good.

  4. What a great place. You are all set up. I love it. China is such a great place to live. I can’t wait to read more.

    1. I’ll be honest, this was our first appartment, a year ago. You can see so much information over the past year about living in China on our blog already 🙂

  5. Thanks for sharing, it’s a nice little insight into what is available in China. It’s actually quite a nice looking and spacious apartment.

    1. It’s very spacious, too spacious for two people. When we adopted the kittens it was nice but still difficult to clean!

  6. I recall when I had an adventure like this. I went to Japan, solo, to teach English. It was the best experience! Best of luck to you.

    1. We are actually leaving in 2 weeks! after two years in Beijing. Thanks for the luck though 🙂

  7. I have never seen the inside of a Chinese apartment, but it looks no different to an apartment anywhere in the world. It does look like its nice and bright and I guess in some countries just having hobs is pretty standard. Not sure I could cope with the sofa though, maybe I would be buying lots of cushions to sit on!!

    1. Exactly, it’s a nice insight into what China is like.

    1. We are outside the third ringroad where this sort of price is completely normal. People live in the center, which is only 20 minutes away, and pay triple the amount.

  8. Having traveled to many places but never to extended stays or relocating, this is a challenge that I had never thought of before. It looks like you took everything in stride though. I may date myself, but the styles in the home remind me of what I grew up with a kid in the 70’s. Whoever thought lime green made a good choice for appliances must have been doing some of those phsycodelic drugs back then.

    1. Haha, The amazing thing is i think all of the furniture and kitchen actually do come from the 70’s. The stuff in this apartment is very very old.

  9. I think it’s a cute apartment! I would have thought to live in such a major city would be more expensive. I was paying 400 euro for a similar setup in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Having a second bedroom can really come in handy!

    1. The price has gone up this year, for a smaller apartment in the same area is 4500. Also the second bedroom was just a dumping ground for us, I hope you got more use out of yours.

  10. The lime green colour make your flat so refreshing and relaxing. It could be a nice oasis for living in populated Beijing !

    1. I wish that was the case. We couldn’t even sit on the sofa for more than 5 minutes and I speant the whole year on the wooden dining room chairs haha!

  11. That’s actually a pretty nice apartment for a fraction of what it would cost in London! And you can cope with the limey green kitchen…maybe some decals ha ha! But it looks quite roomy. Really cool to get a glimpse of it inside so thanks for sharing these photos!

    1. The one thing this place was is roomy, if everything else was replaced then we would have been ecstatic!

  12. I’m moving to Beijing in Jan/Feb 2018, and I have been searching the net for an idea of what an apartment would look like and how much it would cost. My company is going to give me a 4850 RMB housing allowance. I am wondering if you could give me an insight on what to expect if I am looking for a 1Bed or Studio apartment. Is this a good allowance for housing?

    1. SO if you want to go close to the center that will get you a pretty small studio and outside the 3rd ring road youre looking at a 1 or two bed flat, if you went 1 bed flat it would be a pretty nice flat. The apartment in the pictures in this post are our first apartment in Beijing and it looks a little run down, our second year was much nicer just a little smaller. The price ranges so massively from central and decreases significantly with each ring road further out you go. The allowance they are giving sounds like a pretty generous amount, It is usually around 4000RMB. Good luck! If you have any questions please let us know!

    2. Hello Katie, I am moving to Beijing in August. I was wondering if you had any luck finding apartments within the 4000RMB price range. I would really appreciate the help!

  13. Hello there,

    I am moving to Beijing in August and I was wondering in what area did you find your apartment? I was informed rent would be about 6000rmb a month! I don’t mind traveling to where I need to go. Also, I don’t need much space either. Do you have any recommendations on location? Thank you thank you in advance!

    1. Very sorry for the late reply, we lived outside the 3rd ringroad in a place called Fatou. Very close to a place called happy valley. Nice place to live and 30min train ride to the inner city. 6000RMB a month will get you a nice apartment down in that area. We went with a company called Ziroom. Give them a go.

Leave a Comment