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!
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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!
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.
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.
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!
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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!
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!
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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.
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!
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Packing List Essentials
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!