Sunday, November 16, 2014

Finding an Apartment

When someone new moves to Shanghai, so the debate begins on where to live. Should they live in the Pudong area of the city or should they live in the Puxi area?

Puxi is the more happening area, where the downtown is, and where a lot of the restaurants and night clubs are. Pudong is known more for having actual houses, with plenty of parks and more of a family friendly area.

This was also my first lesson in Chinese. Dong means east and xi (she) means west. Pu is the name of the big river that dissects the city. So Puxi is west of the river while Pudong is east of it.

 I had no such debate, as the school I teach at is so far away from Pudong that Puxi was really my only option. I’m sure it would be possible to do the commute. I have heard that some of the students do, but I really have no interest in spending a large amount of time on the bus. Plus, I am not sure that staff busses go to Pudong.

I arrived in Shanghai with my girlfriend, Michelle, ready to find a place. I have searched for a place to live just twice before this: once with my Mother at the start of University as a 17 year old and once abroad in Brisbane, Australia. Both occurrences I just wanted to find a place to live as soon as possible.

This time was different.  This time I was looking with a partner, and I had a reasonable budget. I could afford to be picky. Although, as soon as possible was still the preference. Who wants to be working full time and house hunting at the same time?

We were looking for preferably a 2 bedrooms and 2-bathrooms apartment. Ideally, it would be as close to the school as possible. It would have been nice to get to work via walking or a short bike ride so the reliance on school busses wasn’t as big.

Upon arrival, the school set us up with 2 free nights in a hotel and used our housing allowance to pay the remainder of the hotel bill. The school also set us up with a real estate agent whom we felt obligated to work with, as they were familiar with the school bus route.
We were also ‘competing’ with a few other people to find a place. These people were shown around with us, wanted different things than us and had a different budget from us. Not really the ideal people to search with. This was frustration number 1.

The real estate company didn’t listen to our wants at first and frankly, barely heard the wants of the others looking as well. When they finally realized we felt we weren’t close to finding a place, they took my partner and I out individually.

We finally found a place we really liked and it was close to the school. It was pretty much exactly what we wanted. Then at the last minute the owner decided he changed his mind and wanted to sell the place. Unless of course we were willing to pay more per month. We were not.

Back to square one. At this point, we were already starting to get overwhelmed with school and visa issues that we decided to settle. We wanted out of the hotel so we went back to the area we were shown prior to our individual tours. We took a two-bedroom apartment in the area of Qibao. A lot of the families who are employed by the school live in this area. Our apartment is nice, but it isn’t as nice as the place we didn’t end up in. It also isn’t as close.

I’m generally happy with it. It is close to metro line 9, which is a subway line that can take us into the city. The subway system here is very convenient. It is very large and goes virtually everywhere with plenty of stations that you can transfer to different subway lines. More on that at a later date!

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