Last week, my friend from Xinjiang and I rented a small room near the place we work in Shanghai. It’s the first time I’ve had an apartment since I lived in Chengdu three months ago. After roaming all over second and third tier cities in China, I finally realized it’s worth paying the higher cost to live in Shanghai. This room costs about $400 USD per month. In New York City, I could expect to pay $1500 or more. Considering that Shanghai has everything I liked about New York, I’d say I’m getting a pretty good deal.
I also found the rental process in China to be far less stressful and much more convenient. In the US, they’d run background checks, credit checks, ask for first and last month’s rent plus deposit, and in general just be super picky. The whole process is a headache and can take several days or even a few weeks. Then you gotta mail a check every month when every other service in your life can be paid for through electronic means. Not to mention the cost of utilities is out of this world.
Here in China, you just pay the rent and deposit through WeChat or Alipay, the landlord takes a picture of your passport, and you’re good to go. They don’t even care what kind of visa you’re on. I’m on a one-year lease with this apartment and I’m quite comfortable with the place. Pretty much everything I need is within walking or motorbike distance. When things come together slowly, that’s how you know you’re in the right place.