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How to rent an apartment in China when you're not in China?


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Hello everyone~

I wanted to rent an apartment in China before coming back. I'll give a brief background so you can understand why I can't wait to come back before apartment hunting.

As you all know that a month ago China finally announced that they will be issuing visas to students after almost 3 years. And so many universities sent their students consent forms and other related questionaires and documents etc. 

My university in particular sent us a consent form with a difficult rule to follow: "Students coming to China this time must rent an apartment and send the address to the student advisor/batch teacher before departure, as well as report to the commnunity a week before arriving in the university city." This implies that we need apartments before leaving for China.

I asked my laoshi why the school won't let us live in the dorms and she told me they're not ready yet. I call it rubbish because more than a year ago they kicked out all of our stuff from the dorms because they wanted to begin the process of moving the international students currently in China to the newly consructed dormitories. I know they're ready but they probably don't want to open them yet as campus is still under lockdown (and renovation--they're changing the logos, color of school buses etc). Anyways, if the school says no then it means no and I don't have a say in it.

I didn't want to miss this chance to go back so I decided to send the consent form but now there are a few problems that I'm really worried about.

1) How will I sign the lease if I'm not there? ( A friend has told me that he can fill out my passport info for me but from what I know a signature is necessary as well.)

2) I've found wechat IDs of a few chinese agents and my friend has told me that he will go in person (on my behalf) to check out the apartments BUT he has also told me not to tell the agents that I'm not in China because then they might not help me. This is problematic because it seems as if I'm lying and I'm worried about problems in the future.

3) How will I pay the rent? (I know that landlords in China ask for a 3-6 month rent in advance + a security deposit, so I know I won't be given a chance to come to China and then pay because the landlord and the agent might thing something is wrong. I'll have no choice but to pay before leaving for China so that the apartment becomes mine.)

If some of you can please tell me how you pay your rent in China, it would be very helpful, Like, do you make direct transfers on wechat, alipay etc OR pay in person?

Also, I'd like to add that my laoshi has told us to "live alone at least the first month" which is why I can't stay with a friend.

Please share your experiences with me. Any info would be valuable.

My city: Shenyang, Liaoning.

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Sounds like a deliberately impossible requirement to prevent you from actually coming. Especially with the suspicious "dorms aren't ready" part. In my experience universities hate students living off-campus and want them all in the dormitories.  I'd band together with other students on a Wechat group and present your grievance together.  

 

If you want to try jumping through these difficult hoops, you'd need express air delivery and return of the lease documents so you can sign them, and Alipay or Wechat for the rent. Otherwise bank transfer, which is what most people use due to the large amounts. I hope you have a Chinese bank account.  

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Are you sure that the university wants you to rent an apartment for the whole time you're in school?

 

If they don't have good English, then they could have meant that they want you to arrive a week early and stay in an apartment (or Airbnb type place) off campus for that week, presumably as a kind of quarantine.  When I was last in China, I noticed that hotel clerks with non-fluent English used the word "live" instead of "stay" in a way that was initially confusing to me.  That might be because Chinese uses one word for both living long-term and staying short-term.

 

I suggest asking the university for clarification.  Your teacher may not have the scoop on this rule, either.

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Honestly I think this being China you'll probably be fine just giving them a two week hotel reservation and saying that you're planning on finding a long-term apartment once you're there. That's what I did for my visa registration in Beijing (not a student visa mind you but I don't think the uni will be giving you more hassle than the visa centre). I'll drop you a message if that's ok, I'm sure there's an easy solution to this and it's not as complicated as it sounds.

 

Edited to add: Moshen beat me to it. They probably just mean you need to show that you've arranged short-term accommodation on arrival and can sort out your long-term living situation once you're there.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 10/10/2022 at 12:50 PM, vellocet said:

Sounds like a deliberately impossible requirement to prevent you from actually coming. Especially with the suspicious "dorms aren't ready" part. In my experience universities hate students living off-campus and want them all in the dormitories.  I'd band together with other students on a Wechat group and present your grievance together.  

We tried. It didn't work. The teachers just say "these are rules from the school leaders. I can only forward their message to you". 

On 10/10/2022 at 12:50 PM, vellocet said:

If you want to try jumping through these difficult hoops, you'd need express air delivery and return of the lease documents so you can sign them, and Alipay or Wechat for the rent. Otherwise bank transfer, which is what most people use due to the large amounts. I hope you have a Chinese bank account.  

I do have one. Also,the agent said I can just sign an online contract and I'll make the payment once I get a friend to take a final look at an apartment for me.

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On 10/10/2022 at 3:24 PM, Moshen said:

Are you sure that the university wants you to rent an apartment for the whole time you're in school?

I'm not sure about that actually. But my teacher said that if we want to come back to China 'this time", the lease should be at least 6 months. I think it's our choice in the end.

On 10/10/2022 at 3:24 PM, Moshen said:

If they don't have good English, then they could have meant that they want you to arrive a week early and stay in an apartment (or Airbnb type place) off campus for that week, presumably as a kind of quarantine.  When I was last in China, I noticed that hotel clerks with non-fluent English used the word "live" instead of "stay" in a way that was initially confusing to me.  That might be because Chinese uses one word for both living long-term and staying short-term.

I had hoped the same. Unfortunately, they really don't want us on campus. I'm guessing that this is their way to force into off-campus health monitoring but I could be wrong. The reason could be anything.

On 10/10/2022 at 3:26 PM, Jellyfish said:

Honestly I think this being China you'll probably be fine just giving them a two week hotel reservation and saying that you're planning on finding a long-term apartment once you're there. That's what I did for my visa registration in Beijing (not a student visa mind you but I don't think the uni will be giving you more hassle than the visa centre). I'll drop you a message if that's ok, I'm sure there's an easy solution to this and it's not as complicated as it sounds.

We actually had a full-blown argument on the matter just a few days ago. The teacher has clarified that the schoo means exactly what they wrote in the consent form. And please do send a message. Any help is appreciated. Thank you.

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Sounds like a very difficult situation. I'm not sure if the powers that be understand the difficulties this rule will cause, or if they even care.

 

Not the ideal solution, but if they don't ask for any documentation of proof, you could just give a random address (of an apartment that is available to rent), find an apartment when you arrive, and just tell them that you decided to move (or say that the previous plan fell through because you weren't in the country to sign the contract).

 

Or, ask your friend if you could "live with him/her" for the purposes of your application, give his/her address and send a copy of his/her rental contract, and then just find a new apartment when you get there and say you decided to move.

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On 10/30/2022 at 4:36 PM, anonymoose said:

Not the ideal solution, but if they don't ask for any documentation of proof, you could just give a random address (of an apartment that is available to rent), find an apartment when you arrive, and just tell them that you decided to move (or say that the previous plan fell through because you weren't in the country to sign the contract).

They actually do ask for proof. Our school keeps everything in record. 

On 10/30/2022 at 4:36 PM, anonymoose said:

Or, ask your friend if you could "live with him/her" for the purposes of your application, give his/her address and send a copy of his/her rental contract, and then just find a new apartment when you get there and say you decided to move.

We're not allowed to stay with anyone who has already been living in China. And like I've said, unfortunately the school will find out immediately because they document everything. I'm only allowed to get a new apartment with someone who will be travelling to China now. But that's impossible since mine and theirs flights might be different or their visa might take longer. 

It's quite an inconvenient situation really. Vellocet is right. It really does seem as if they're throwing obstacles at us on purpose. lmao. I'll keep everyone updated. Maybe the next person will find this thread helpful.

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On 10/31/2022 at 1:15 PM, anonymoose said:

May be an idea to ask the university if any foreign student has made it back, and if so, how they managed it

We're going to be the first to go back. Then they'll make the next list of students. And so far, no one has received their documents.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Update: Received my documents and my visa. School is still adamant on apartments but I've found one and so have many others so maybe it'll be okay. 

Quarantine situation for now is 5+3 days at entry city, then 7 days in a hotel in Shenyang, then another 7 days in our apartments. I have yet to go there so maybe the situation might change or be different than what our school has told us. Will let you know~

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