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HOW TO RENT A FLAT around Wudaokou (BLCU, Beida, Qinghua, Diqiucun…)

Long Pan

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Here are some keys about how to rent a flat near Wudaokou. It comes from my little experience looking for a 1 bedroom apartment for a 2 months rental (the difficult part of it).


First step which can be done on the web : get to know the market.
is probably the first place to start; try also the
. Apart from the prices you should also start learning about the locations names. In Beijing, the real estate business is mostly organised around compounds (小区 xiao qü in Chinese). Therefore knowing the “compounds language” will help you a lot- which means remembering the compounds names, locations and main characteristics. Here is a short list for a start:

  • “the famous” Huaqing Jiayuan (华清家园) just west of wudaokou subway station – mind that the different blocks have different kind of apartments inside. I have seen there beautiful modern places as well as dirty and old ones. On a long term basis you can get something very nice for less than 3500 RMB (1 bedroom + 1 living room, around 50 square meters).
  • Dongsheng yuan (东升园), just south of Huaqing Jiayuan – this is where I found my apartment. Prices are less expensive than Huaqing Jiayuan but more than DongWangZhuang.
  • The old but cheap Dong Wang Zhuang (东王庄) north of BLCU (just north of Xijiao Binguan); there are many offers to share a room with a Chinese family for around 1500 RMB (as far as I can remember). Cheap price but quite old and small.
  • Furun Jiayuan (富润家园) on Xueyan Lu (学院路), east BLCU: modern place and good location for BLCU students; you have restaurants and shops around. Price should be around what you get at Huaqing Jiayuan (3500 for a one bedroom apartment). Note than Xueyan Lu has other compounds which I forgot the names. They also tend to build a lot in the north of it on a road called XueqingLu (学清路) - but mind the distance to the universities !
  • Qing feng hua jing yuan(清枫华景园) north of the Forestry University (林大) which is itself north of BLCU – a quite remote place with not a great choice of restaurants nor shops around; but quite nice apartments and cheaper than Huaqing.

You can also try the
to locate on a map some of these compounds. There is also
in Chinese. If you have time you could also Google the compounds names (in Chinese or Pinyin) which will give you pictures and maps.

2) GO ON THE FIELD and see by yourself

One of the main issue is the location of the building. Is it close to your school? Does it have enough restaurants around to satisfy your taste for the coming months? Is there a supermarket? What about public transports ? Personally I do prefer a smaller flat but with a good location. It is therefore interesting before starting to contact the real estate agencies to go for a day looking around the major compounds. Walk or bicycle to feel the distance and then linger around to get to know the neighbourhood. Better to do it in advance because you’ll have no time for that while visiting the flat with the agent (he makes you visit the inside not the outside !).


  • First forget about managing all your deal from internet. In fact you’ll soon discover that most of classifieds on That’s Beijing are posted by real estate agents. So better go directly in their offices and talk to them face to face. I’ve read here and there not to trust the real estate agencies. My experience with the ones in Huaquing Jiayuan is in fact quite good; I never felt being cheated (but who knows :) ).
  • Where to go ? if you are looking for a flat around BLCU, Beida or Qinghua, I would recommend you to go within Huaqing Jiayuan compound (enter by a small gate on Chengfu lu). You’ll find there many small agencies which specialise on finding apartments for foreign students – most of them being Korean students in fact. These agencies have offers not only in Huaqing Jiayuan but also all around the area - for instance they can find you a room within a Chinese families in Dong Wang Zhuang. Normally there is always someone speaking a little bit of English in the agency – at least enough to communicate. Of course it helps if you can manage a bit in Chinese.
  • My advise is to spend the first day visiting half a dozen agencies – tell them what you want and try to visit one or two flats with each agency. Do not decide yourself on the first day (tell them in Chinese 我想考虑一下 wo xiang kaolü yixia “I want to think about it” – which is a perfect sentence to leave and go to another agency). Take their business card and let your mobile number (the mobile is a must if you want them to contact you quickly in case they have a new offer)
  • All the agents I met were nice and helpful. Most of them are young (in their twenties) and dynamic. It may sometimes not look "that professional" (some "so called" agencies are just desks in the private houses of the “agents”; I even saw one agency sharing the place with a Chinese doctor), but in a way they are quite efficient. But expect that it takes a little bit of time so be patient. Creating trust is very important at that stage; on both side ! So once again be patient, nice and smile :lol:
  • You’ll find also on the main roads some "more professional" real estate agencies like WoAiWoJia (我爱我家) or Century 21. They focus on more expensive apartments. As far as I am concern my 2months rental target was not possible with them


  • Agencies fees: NEVER PAY anything to any agency before you agree on an offer – which means do not even pay the subway or the taxi which you will take for your visits. In fact even once the deal is done you should not have to pay anything to the agent – they get the commission from the landlord (one month for a 12 months contract which means around 8%). The only case where you should pay a commission is when the agency helps you to find a room to rent within the apartment of a landlord or of another tenant (share flat) - in that case the agent usually asks for 500 RMB once the deal is settled (but not before!). As far as I am concerned as I rented a flat for myself, I did not have to pay anything to the agency.
  • The contract (hetong 合同) is mostly bilingual (Chinese English) with some parts only in Chinese (list of furnitures for instance). Note that the term of the rental has to be fixed (1 year, 6 months, or 2 months in my case). You normally pay 3 months + one month deposit when you sign (I of course only paid 2 months + one month deposit). Sometimes you may have to pay a small advance against an option on the rental - for instance I paid 1000 RMB directly to the landlord against the option on the flat (written on a kind of contract in Chinese); then I paid the balance the next day while signing the contract - but I do not think this is a very common practice; normally you meet the landlord once and pay everything at once. Telephone, Electricity, water and internet bills are all for you (as stated in the contract)
  • Short term rental: normally real estate agencies do not do below 6 months terms rentals. So they were quite surprised when I asked for a 2 months rental; they however all helped me to find something. Of course it made my search more difficult: a landlord has no advantage to sign a 2 months contract when he could get a 6 months or one year one. While all the signing contract & inventory process taking more than one hour, I understand that he does not want to lose his time especially if he lives at the other side of Beijing. My only option to get something was to put more money on the table – which means that I paid 3800 RMB for a 47 square meters 1 bedroom apartment in Dongsheng yuan while the normal price is around 2800. But this is still cheaper than hotels around.
  • Last point about the cash: getting all the cash at once is not an easy thing. If you wait for a bank transfer remember that Chinese banks are closed during the week end and that Friday is a very busy day there (a good hour to wait for your turn). And with ATM remember that your VISA withdrawal authorisation has a good chance to be well below the amount of cash you need. So think about it well ahead.

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Beijing University has a bulletin board area with many listings. To find it walk onto campus through the large gate facing down to Wudaokou (east gate?) and turn left at the library. Turn right at the auditorium about 50 meters later, walk about 20 meters and look at the bulletin boards.

There are always plenty of advertisements for available places, and housing can be found dirt-cheap if you are willing to share with people. It is possible to find places for 1000 RMB and less, and most are room-shares quite close to campus. Maybe a bit far from BLCU, but great for Beida or Qinghua.

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If I compare with a city like Paris where I live, supply is well over the demand. Impact on price is however difficult to tell. But as there is quite a good number of opportunities, the advise is more to take you time to make your market. For example within Huaqing Jiayuan, I have seen a beautifull 1 room / 1 livingroom appartment, clean and luminous for 3500, and another one older and quite disgusting for 4500.

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Supply also very much depends on what time of the year it is. Especially for Haidian where all the schools are, when the school year is just starting or finishing up prices can go down or up as alot of people are moving out/in. If school is in session open apartments can be hard to find and your selection might be low.

I think for a 4000rmb month apartment in Wudaokou you could find a much nicer one in Chaoyang, simply because there are 10x the amount of residential buildings. Too bad there aren't many schools over there.

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You can also go the individual route. A Chinese friend offered to help and insisted that using an agent was a waste of money. I couldn't convince her otherwise. We walked through several areas and she called the numbers that were posted in apartment windows. I ended up with a clean, modern, 100m two bedroom for 3,200/month on XueYuan Lu about 1km north of BLCU. Total time invested - 5 hours.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am attending IUP this fall and planning to live off-campus, ideally in an apartment share situation. Does anyone have any advice on roughly how far in advance I should come to Beijing in order to leave myself enough time to find a room (or my own apartment, if necessary)? My program starts on Sept. 4, which is, imagine, around the same time that dozens of thousands of others students in Beijing also will be looking for housing. Thanks all.

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One week before should be enough. Of course it depends on how much you want to put. But anyway the offer around is quite good. During that time I advise you to stay at this hotel (hejiabinguan) which is more or less within the Huaqingjiayuan complex, so quite a convenient place - and moreover good & quite cheap compared to other places.

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I'm coming to beijing next week to enroll at BLCU and my main concern at the moment is finding accomadation. I'm enrolling for the 12 weeks course, but potentially I would like to extend it depending on how well it goes.

My problem regarding accomdation hunting is that my chinese is really bad - actually almost non-existent. I don't want to stay to stay in dorms as too restrictive for my liking. Don't know if it's true, but I've read on many posts on this forum that there are issues such as early lights out, curfews, only hot water between certain time periods et al which has put me off.

Hence I'm going to look for an off-campus apartment for myself. A friend of a friend of mine who works in Beijing tells me that it takes about a week to find a place if I am willing to pay between USD500-USD1000 per month for a 1 or 2 bedroom place which is within my budget. I'm a londoner so am use to ridiculous rents!

I understand (from this forum) that estate agents don't deal with rent periods less than 6 months and I want to rent initially for a of 3 months, Also as I mentioned I speak bad chinese (that's the reason why I'm coming to BLCU), I think it might be a bit difficult as the possibility of being scammed increases.

Does anyone know any legitimate english speaking landlords or estate agents who I can deal with directly? From my internet research most english speaking estate agents only work in the nort-east region of beijing. Thanks.

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Yung, within Huaqing Jiayuan (see first post), you'll find some real estate agencies with at least one person who can speak a bit of English. Check especially the ones in the center of the court which in fact look a bit more professional than the others. Tell them in a clear and slow English what you want (a flat for 3 months) with you budget (4000 RMB to 6000 RMB a month should be largely enough) - that should be OK.

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thank u long pan for your advice. much appreciated. your initial posting was very detailed - the reason for my posting was to see if anyone could personally recommend any specific real estate agents as i don't want to waste time looking for a decent agent or being scammed. i will try the ones in hua jia yuan. many thanks. when i find a decent real estate agent i will post details on this thread for others to use.

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