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Shanghai, China

Real Estate in China

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Nov 27, 2021

Summary: Expats and retirees talk about real estate in China? How do you find a home in China? Should you buy or rent? What is the cost of housing?

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How do I find a place to live in China?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"We lived in Shanghai before and wanted to start living in a familiar place, so we picked a neighborhood that we used to go to a lot," remarked another member in Shanghai.

"Beijing is a HUGE city and you want to live near where you work. You'll hate life if you have to commute a long time on the subways - which is insanely crowded during rush hours. I work in the CBD so I got an apartment that is about a 30-minute walk from home or a 5-minute ride on the bus," explained one expat living in Beijing , China.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in China?

"Apartment in Chinese apartment building that is 6 floors tall. Yes, there are many embassies in this neighborhood so there are many expats and geopats here," explained one person living in Shanghai, China.

"Pretty much everyone here lives in apartments in big buildings. Some families may choose to live in villas in the Shunyi area, but everyone else is in apartments. Apartments in Beijing tend to be older but they are all furnished and safe. Decorations can be a bit underwhelming so you'll want to invest in some plants, paintings and other things to make your home warm," said another expat in Beijing .

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What is the average cost of housing in China?

If you are thinking about moving to China, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"Higher with less quality BUT the wages are much, much higher than the same job back home. One bedroom apartments can range from 5-14, 000 rmb per month, depending on location, type of building, furnishings, etc," explained one expat living in Shanghai, China.

"Housing in Beijing is expensive. I would estimate that most expats are spending at least $1,000 USD a month on their housing. The further from the city center, the cheaper. Roommates are also an option to cut costs," said another person in Beijing .

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Should I buy or rent a home in China?

If you have not spent a lot of time in China, you should rent before even thinking about buying. We asked expats there about the buy vs. rent decision:

"As I mentioned earlier I rented an apartment. Wasn't hard but I needed some friends to help me. Took me all of one afternoon to find a place. As I mentioned earlier, it was fully furnished, also had three air-conditioner, refrigerator, clothes washer and big screen TV," remarked another foreigner who made the move to Nanning, Guangxi Provence.

"My wife owns a condo which is basically what many Chinese own in liu of Americans buying a house. Many more rent apts/condos from others," explained one person living in Xi'an, China.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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