Desire an apartment in Beijing? Here is a list of things to be taken into account in order to make out your criteria: what is the place you want to live in Beijing?
1. What kind of residence do you prefer? Traditional Chinese house or an apartment in a modern compound ?
Many foreigners coming to Beijing dream about authentic Beijing Residence. In northeastern China these are called “Courtyards”, Siheyuan in Chinese, which is a set of one storey building built around a central courtyard, main gate facing south. Most of these courtyards are located in the center of Beijing, within the Second Ring Road (Beijing is just like a gigantic onion with every layer being one Ring Road. Altogether there are seven of them, with the First Ring Road does not exist, which is the walls of the Forbidden City). The courtayrds are located in these mazes of little alleys which are called Hutongs. Most of the courtyards are renovated with modern equipments, life in which features the charm of a perfect combination of Modern Economy with authentic Beijing residential culture, which stresses the harmony between humanity and nature. If they are not renovated, be aware that life there can be quite Spartan- too cold in winter, too hot in summer, with water supply problems and really dirty rooms. Rentals of the renovated ones have skyrocketed, and another inconvenience is that they are a little far from most of places where foreigners work and live in Beijing.
You might consider living in one of the modern compounds, in the east of Beijing. Some are really nice places to live in, with high standard facilities, great clubhouses and expat-friendly environment. This is the choice of the majority of foreigners in Beijing because of convenience and comfort, especially when you have kids- it is secured, well located and allow to have a life free of constraints since these places do have good management teams that are there just to settle all the problems that can happen (more or less efficient depending on the compounds, actually).
2. Do you want an apartment close to your workplace?
Be aware that Beijing is Really large. Most of foreign companies, large Chinese companies are located in the east of Beijing, called Chaoyang District, which is subdivided into CBD, Sanlitun, Chaoyang Park area, Lido, Lufthansa and Wangjing area according to different business hubs. This is the reason for the gathering of so many high-end international compounds there and its popularity among both local riches and expats. Have a look at where you are going to work in Beijing and find what are the available compounds; is it convenient to go from there to the place you work; do you need a car, a driver; is public transportation within easy reach; can you walk or cycle to your workplace?
3. Is there international schools in the neighborhood?
If you have children, you’ll probably need to think about where they are going to study. Most of the international schools in Beijing are settled in the Shunyi district because this is a place where you can build large campuses. This is really eastwards but you might consider living in a place in between international schools and your workplace. Actually some schools are located in other areas in the east of Beijing, close to the embassies, in Chaoyang or Lido.
4. Is the transportation convenient?
Beijing is a city that has been designed, fortunately or not, for car traffic. The most convenient way of transportation should be car or cab, but the authorities have underestimated the speed of development so that there are now far too many cars and a lot of traffic jams. You should be a little careful about not being too far from a subway station because it is in many cases the quickest and simplest way to go anywhere. If you are a frequent commuter, the Beijing international airport ” Beijing Capital Airport ” is in Shunyi, and from Beijing center you have an express highway that comes from Dongzhimen and goes through the northeastern districts, as well as a special high-speed subway line leading to the airport. You might ask for compounds in function of these transportation systems. For the children, the international schools should have shuttles that allow kids to be driven from your compound directly to the school.
5) What standard of accommodation are you expecting ?
Are you going to stay for a long term or a short period? What is it you are looking for? A service apartment, a brand new apartment or a well -renovated apartment? What do you expect from the clubhouse ? A large swimming pool, a coffee shop, a gym club, a sauna? All these things are to be taken into consideration. Real estate agents might help you and inform you about the amenities that are within or near the compounds.
Be curious when visit apartments and do not be afraid to ask questions! This is how you’ll have the best possible accommodation in Beijing.