what is the cost of living in Chengdu for one person looking for a decent place? My main concern would be finding an apartment for just me. I;m coming there to learn the language and some sight seeing. I know that I will need 3 months of rent and maintenance fees up front which is no problem. I looking to find something for around 1500-1700rmb a month. Any ideas?
Also will it be difficult for apartment searching with out knowing the language?
I would say you can survive on very little here if you know how to manage your life. it just depends on what you want to experience. if you like to go out and party then a night out could rob u of 100rmb to 200rmb sometimes more sometimes less (for me actually most of the times less) but if going out and partying ain't your thing then you can survive on less than 50rmb a day without counting the housing and appliances...for houses yes you may be lucky to find a one bedroom apartment (would probably be less than nice) for 1500 but again maybe you will find the perfect one for you it just depends on your expectations :)
my advice to you is to share an apartment with somebody because then you can easily pay less than 1500 for a room in a much nicer apartment
I may need a housemate if I move my house to this really cool apartment so if you need help just ask :)
and yes most probably it will be somehow difficult to hunt for an apartment without knowing the language so you want to ask a chinese friend to come with you and help you because most of the time when an owner says the amount of rent you can actually negotiate a lesser payment and a chinese friend would help you with that...one final note, always pay close attention to contracts here and anything you don't like make sure it is well documented because contracts here protect the owner not the tenant (can't stress this enough, it will help you so much because I wish somebody have told me this before)
I agree that apartments for ¥1500 are not very nice. But for ¥2500 you can get a place in a brand new high-rise. All depends on your standards.
there are ok single apartments for RMB1,500 - 1,700 (even fully furnished) especially if you avoid overpriced areas (like around Sichuan University or Tongzilin), but finding them without knowing Chinese is a bit of a challenge. It may be worth to spend an extra 100 or 200 for an upgrade to a nice place, but from what i've seen people paying a lot of money doesn't guarantee you a good place (lots of newcomers are ripped just off sometimes also by other foreigners).
The best would be to have a Chinese friend helping you, check stuff online on Chinese sites to get an idea what's the market like and if you're quick you could get a flat without paying one month rent to an agent. But an agent can be helpful if he knows what he's doing (most aren't). If he keeps showing you stuff on screen that doesn't meet your requirements (usually they try to show you flats that are >RMB500 above your budget) dont' bother and just find another one. Last time we where lucky and thanks to an ok agent it took us only 1 day to find a good & cheap place.
Finding a Flat in Chengdu: thirteen frustrating steps
Apartment Hunting in China the Condensed version