“How will I find an apartment when I first arrive in China?”

“Do I need to find an apartment online before I fly out?”

These types of questions are some of the most common that we get asked by teachers who have accepted a job offer and are preparing to move to China for the first time. It’s understandable. Leaving your home country and moving to China is a big deal, and most teachers naturally want to know how the process of finding accommodation works. Finding a place to live is arguably the most important thing you’ll do during your first week in China, so in this blog post, we’ll tell you what you can expect during this time.

For around 25% of teaching positions in China, the school itself will provide all new teachers with a fully furnished apartment for when they arrive in the country. This means that for some teachers, securing accommodation isn’t something they even need to think about. However, for the other 75% of teachers who are heading out to China to teach English, they’ll be required to find an apartment during their first couple of weeks on Chinese soil. 

Moving to China, a foreign country with a completely unique culture, far away from home, can be quite a daunting experience for a lot of people. As a result, some teachers like to try and organise their accommodation before they’ve even entered the country. Although this is understandable, as it may give teachers peace of mind, we would strongly advise against sorting anything out beforehand! By all means, do some research on the city that you’re moving to, and try to get an idea of what location you would like to live in, but there’s no need to commit to anything, as finding an apartment when you’re inside China is extremely quick and easy to do.

When you first arrive in China your school will most likely put you in a hotel for your first week in the country, this is typically more than enough time to find an apartment, so you don’t need to worry about where you will stay for those first few nights. The main aim for yourself and your school during this week is simple – find you somewhere to permanently live! 

When searching for an apartment, like a lot of things in China, WeChat is absolutely essential, and this will be the main tool you use during your house hunt (we discussed WeChat in our previous blog post 5 Must-Have Apps When Moving to China). A few days before you fly to China (and during your first couple of days in the country) your school will share with you the WeChat contacts of estate agents who are located in your city, as well as offering to add you to ‘house share’ WeChat groups. 

From here things are relatively straightforward, you simply message the agents, describing to them what it is you’re looking for (one bedroom, shared flat, en-suite etc), any location preferences you have, and what your monthly budget is. They’ll then get back to you, typically within 12 hours, with 4 or 5 really good options. If you’ve decided before heading out to China that you want to live in shared accommodation, then there will be a variety of shared opportunities being listed in the ‘house share’ WeChat groups that you’ll be added to. The agents will also be able to find you some shared options.

Things in China move fast. Once you’ve been sent some apartments you’ll then agree on viewing times, typically within the next 48 hours. More often than not, someone from your school will come to these viewings with you, in order to help you navigate your way around the new, foreign city that you’re in, and to also ensure the apartments are suitable. At the viewings, the agents will show you around the apartments, explain to you in detail everything you need to know and answer any questions you may have. Then after a day or two of viewing different apartments, you can either decide to accept one and sign up for it or if nothing is appealing to you just yet, then you can arrange some more viewings for the following couple of days. Typically, after viewing around 3 or 4 different apartments most teachers find one they’re happy with and agree to take it.

The signup and completion of your housing contract is just as quick as the viewing process. Once you’ve found an apartment that you like, you’ll usually be allowed to move in within the next 2 – 3 days, which means that most teachers have usually found an apartment and moved into it by the end of their first week in China! 

Moving to a country like China for the first time can be a nerve-wracking experience, so teachers, please don’t add to those nerves by worrying about where you’ll live when you arrive in the country. As we’ve shown in this blog post, the process of finding an apartment in China is straightforward and efficient. Throughout the process, you’ll have the full support of your school, and if you’ve been placed at one of Teach English Global’s partner schools, then you’ll also have our full support and guidance throughout!