House hunting is not about how much sweaty time you spend prowling the streets in search of the perfect place. It's about two things: How high of rent you can afford, and how good your agent is. Since you probably can't do much about the former, focus on the latter. The best agents will have a database of apartments online and can search for your criteria so that you can view photos online before schlepping all over town to look at apartments that aren't at all what you're looking for. A good agent will also be able to help you negotiate the rental price, furniture and appliance removal and additions, pre-move-in repairs, and the like. If you're looking to save time, you're probably best off avoiding the agents who operate from small rooms furnished with nothing more than a desk, a phone, and a book of handwritten landlord phone numbers.
Be prepared to pay the equivalent of at least five months' rent up front. This includes the initial three months' rent, the deposit, and the agent's fee. (You might be able to persuade the landlord to split the agent's fee with you.) You might also be able to negotiate a lower per-month rental price if you pay for six or 12 months up front.
You've made up your mind and want to take the place. You'll save yourself some headache down the road if you run down this list of things before signing the contract.
◌ Negotiate with the landlord (or ask the agent to negotiate) furnishings that you'd like added or removed.
◌ Check water pressure in all rooms by turning the kitchen and bathroom sink and shower taps on and off.
◌ Ensure the water heater is working for all faucets where you might want hot water
◌ Flush the toilet. Open and close doors and drawers.
◌ Check all appliances you intend to use by turning them on and off—washing machine, television, air conditioning units, etc.
◌ Check the lights—you can ask your landlord to replace any burnt-out bulbs.
◌ Have the agent list all furniture and appliances on the contract, with their condition, particularly if something is broken.
◌ Ask the landlord to make any necessary repairs and give the flat a cleaning before signing the contract; on contract-signing and payment day, you can check to ensure that they have been made. If you sign the contract before they've been made, chances are you'll be stuck making the repairs yourself.
◌ Get a photocopy of the landlord's and agent's ID (mostly for when you need to register at your local police station).
Questions to Ask
◌ What's the contract duration? Standard is one year, but half-year is sometimes acceptable
◌ "Hidden costs," such as the grounds-management fee (物管费), the TV fee, bicycle parking, and so on
◌ Gate policy (some are open 24 hours; some close at midnight; other close but can be opened for 1 yuan)
◌ What to do if repairs are needed
◌ How, when, and where to pay bills
◌ How much advance notice you should give before moving out
...And don't forget: If you've found a great deal, after a year or two you'll no doubt be asked to move out so the apartment can be rented out to somebody at a higher rate. And the whole process begins again!
Furniture and Appliances
Where to go and what to ask for: For furniture, megastores such as IKEA, one-off furniture shops such as those near Renmin Bei Lu around Qinglong Jie and Wenwu Lu, and the secondhand furniture markets in the Shiling (十陵) area near the east Third Ring Road. For appliances, supermarkets and appliances stores such as Gome or Suining.
Previous article: "I Love Panda": Chengdu International Giant Panda Photography Contest
Next article: Comiday 10: Chengdu's biggest cosplay festival in photos