Living in China

Helpful tips from former Flagship students:

  1. Choosing and Paying for your apartment: Most decent Nanjing, Gulou District two bedroom apartments will range from 3500-4300 RMB per month, depending on the renovations and upgrades, location etc. Rent is paid ENTIRELY by the Flagship Student,with no share expected to be paid by the NJU roommate student tutor. If students do internships in Beijing or Shanghai, the rent could range from 3,000 to 5,000 RMB per room (including multiple roommates). Anything 3500 or under may be apparently lower in some quality. It may be possible to bargain the monthly rent down one to two hundred yuan. It is always good to first look at a number of apartments to get a feel of what quality you like/can afford before agreeing on a contract. Be aware that you usually cannot “reserve” a potential apartment; decisions are made by the landlord quickly, and they will generally want an answer from you within a 24-hour period. Payment is made upfront; if not at the time of the signing of the contract, then within a reasonable period of time accepted by the landlord (generally 2-3 weeks within contract signing). At the very least, a payment of at least one month’s rent + safety deposit (equivalent to one month’s rent) will be expected at the signing of the contract. The amount depends on the personality of the landlord.

    Most Landlords are used to renting their apartment for a minimum of six months,and as Flagship students are in Nanjing for just five months, many landlords will be reluctant to rent to Flagship students. They may agree, but then make the monthly rent higher, or make you pay for six months. You have to do some convincing on this issue (the Flagship staff can help). NOTE: for Fall students, this is becoming increasingly hard to do. Since Fall 2014, only a cumulative of 4-6 students have been successful in convincing their landlords to rent out for 5 months. This is due to the ending of the semester meeting Spring Festival, the time during which no one looks to rent (thus making landlords highly reluctant to make mortgage payments without their usual monthly incoming rent payments). In some cases, students leave their baggage and material things in the apartment and go traveling during this period.

    IMPORTANT: Most Chinese landlords expect to be paid in cash, and will expect five months of rent all at once. However, most bank machines in China only allow foreign account holders to withdraw 2,000 or 2,500 RMB per day. You will probably need to explain this situation to your landlord; most are understanding as long as you can give some money up-front.

  2. Interior: Apartments are measured in square meters (平方米 pingfangmi) (instead of square feet). This is usually how they are listed and defined by realtors. You should probably see a few different apartments of varying sizes to get a feel for what 60 square meters means. Fully furnished apartments are plentiful. Usually this consists of beds, TV, air-conditioning ( 空调 kongtiao), table, chairs, washing machine, and fridge. Inspect all appliances to make sure they function properly and you know how to use them.

    Remember: You must live in a 2 bedroom apartment that includes wireless internet, air conditioning, and the basic necessities to accommodate your peer tutor/roommate (unless married).

  3. Agreement: Inspection of the apartment is important so as not to incur any suspicion on damages you did not cause. Talk about changes/repairs you need and see if the landlord will provide them before agreeing on price. There are cleaning companies that are cheap and can be arranged to come clean the place if you demand it from the landlord. Once you have agreed on a contract price, you will have to pay one month’s rent deposit and either six or twelve months rent at a time (usually six months). Chinese usually do not rent their housing for one month at a time and some landlords do not reside in Nanjing so don’t lose your key (make copies cheap). A student assistant or staff member will help you read your contract, and a copy of the contract will be made and kept in the Flagship office.

  4. Utilities: The utilities are another issue altogether. They are generally defined as electric and water (水电费 shuidianfei) as well as gas (煤气 meiqi), cable TV (有线电视 youxian dianshi), and phone. If you live in a complex, you may be asked to pay (物业 wuye), which refers to services like garbage collection, etc. In your apartment, you can usually find the meter for the water, electricity, and gas (电表 dianbiao, 水表 shuibiao, 煤气表 meiqibiao). It is best if you do your utilities directly by paying them yourself (rather than paying through your landlord). That can save a lot of hassle. Also make sure you are told exactly when and where to pay your utilities. The phone is paid at the telecommunication bureau (电信局 dianxinju), which is also where you can set up ADSL internet. It will probably have to be done in your landlord’s name, the closest one to campus is at Gulou (鼓楼). Depending on how your phone is set up, you pay a monthly fee and then, if you go over so many minutes of phone calls, you pay an additional fee on top of the monthly charge. Don’t set up long distance.

    Note: Most students use their cell phone for local calls and use the internet for calling the U.S.; many or most students do not set up a fixed telephone line in their apartment, finding it unnecessary.

  5. Register: When you move into a place off-campus, you are required to register with the local police ( 派出所 paichusuo) within 24 hours. Since 2013 (due to increased regulations for the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing), however, students must all go to the main district office at 定淮门大街1号to register, as most neighborhood police stations have only one or no working officers who are capable of registering foreigners. For registration, take your passport(s) and housing contract, and register with the office. You will need the registration paper they give you if you extend or make adjustments toyour visa(s).

    Residence Permit: Within 30 days, you are required to go to the Public Security Bureau (公安局) to apply for a Residence Permit. You must bring a copy of the registration you received from the 派出所 (local police station). The Residence Permit costs 400 RMB, payment must be made by a Chinese bank card.