Property - Moving Home
How to Move
Home in China (September 2009)
This page contains specific information for
Expats wishing to move property in China
This is fairly easy and straight forward, both for a
private dwellings, offices, or small warehouse (Garage).
The general procedures are quite similar and as you
would expect for both bought and rented properties
You will need to do everything that would normally be
required in a Western country, although expect to treat
the sale and new home of bought properties as two separate
operations. You will require the services of a Chinese
Lawyer, and we can help you find one if you ask us to
help you. Generally foreigners are nowadays restricted
to only owning one home in China, so be mindful of this
point if a sale is arranged for after the purchase of
a new home. Again, talk to any Banks involved (Mortgage
if applicable) and your Lawyer. Upon completion of contracts
you will receive the keys and are free to move in
When renting this is normally done via an agent and
requires your passport, signing a contract, and deposit
(Usually one or two months). If renting via an agent,
then the contract will be pretty standard, although
you my prefer to have a friend check the details. Contracts
are usually one side of a4, and not overly complicated
nor filled with legal jargon.
Baths and Western toilets are fairly common, but if
either is essential to you, please specify before you
sign any contracts.
For Chinese, new is perfect and old is no good. This
is their perception. Therefore a brand new build in
the right area commands a vast sum of money - even for
a rabbit hutch. Often the older building next door will
have apartments 5 times bigger that include wood paneled
walls and ceilings - for a third of the price. Well
I exaggerate, but only a little! You may have to be
very forceful with kindly helpers and estate agents
to find what you are really looking for.
Arrival at your new house is not usually a problem,
although do have your contract and passport handy if
Security or Building Management are in charge of entry
and egress - you will need to register with them, and
this only takes a minute
Once inside, check all the meter readings and keep these
safe. There can be several meters for each service,
and my current apartment has 3 water meters, so check
to ensure you find all of them. If in doubt, look for
external pipes entering the building. Detached houses
usually only have one meter for each service situated
outside the property for easy reading. Apartments can
have multiple internal meters, although the electricity
meters are normally located in large groups on specified
floors of the high rise.
Rental Property Appliances:
It is normal in China for apartments to be let 'semi-furnished'.
This means the apartment will be in habitable condition,
and have things like a shower heater and gas rings supplied.
Note: Canton does not normally have hot water or ovens.
In fitted kitchens, what you presume to be an oven will
be a sterilising unit. Check it yourself, as although
Western ovens do exist - they are very rare in ordinary
You will agree a list with your Landlord of what they
will provide for you. Keep this list, along with your
contract, somewhere safe = you will need it again, especially
when moving out!
This list normally includes the beds (Hard Chinese style),
3 piece suite, tables, TV, Cable box, etc. This list
varies depending upon what you already own, and what
they have already provided. Usually they will provide
more things, but watch for the price hike! If yours
is a short term rental up to 18 months, then just pay
up (After discussions) and have what you need supplied
for you. If your intention is to live longer in China
(Not necessarily in the same apartment), then consider
buying your own - as this will reappear on your next
Note any defects with a third party present. I have
never known this to be a problem, but be careful...
Services should normally be on and available. Note:
Cable or Satellite TV
- Cable TV is normally included in
the Management charge for your apartment building,
as are water charges (Minimal), and you will get
a standard 150 channels, of which 3 or more will
be in English
- The Cable TV reception box may
not be included, and you may need to go to the local
service shop and get one (Y500) . You can also add
extra packages if anyone understands you?
- Satellite TV is available in China,
and costs fractionally more, but there are more
channels to choose from.
Most city governments ban satellite dishes on high
rise apartment blocks, so check if this option is
permitted in your location before ordering
- Analogue TV is also provided free,
but has very few channels, most of which cannot
be watched due to poor quality reception. Don't
bother with it!
- China Telecom controls all landlines
in China . You will need to go to the local office
and arrange for the telephone to be fitted. They
will also add additional outlets and install 'ADSL
type broadband. A friend maybe able to arrange this
with a telephone call. It is easy to set up monthly
bank payments, but whichever course you choose,
remember to have your passport handy.
- You will be supplied with one standard
telephone, which has an associated monthly rental
(Y6). This must be returned when your contract finishes,
along with any wires.
- Chinese broadband internet connection
uses the ADSL system, and is pretty good in general
. Again this is supplied by China Telecom, who will
fit to the room of your choice. Privately arrange
with the fitter for any extra sockets. The fitter
will ensure your computer is connected to the internet
and all is working properly before he leaves.
- The standard connection is called
and delivers up to 100Mb/sec for downloads.
- 2Mb and 4Mb modems are also available,
but be warned! These are slower for a single computer
than the basic 1Mb connection. This is because they
do not offer increased speed as you would expect,
but provide extra bandwidth = connections for more
computers - read 2Mb = 2 computers, 4Mb = 4 computers.
However, you only need a 1Mb connection if you want
to use a desktop pc and also have a wireless router
for laptops etc.
Expect service personnel to check meters monthly, and
many also require you to fill in the gas meter reading
at the end of each month and place it in the slot outside
your door. They will physically read this meter less
often. This mainly applies to apartments.
Most apartment blocks and 'Gardens' (What we would call
a condominium or secure housing area) can supply Cleaners.
These will likely be building cleaning staff who are
doing this for extra money after hours or at week-ends.
Charges tend to be about Y6.4 per hour, for nominally
3 hours work once or twice a week. Most foreigners round
this up a lot, as this is excellent value for money.
I have had no problems leaving my cleaners a key to
my apartments, as they are highly trustworthy and would
loose their jobs if you complained they stolen something
from you. It is also reassuring to know somebody local
has a spare key to your home should you inadvertently
loose your main keys.
Specialist cleaning teams with steam-cleaners are also
available for hire if you are moving into a grubby apartment,
or wish to have your present one looking it's best
For rental properties, Landlords only tend to visit
if you owe them money - otherwise they will leave you
well alone. However, do not make any alterations to
the home without consulting them first. Usually it is
no problem - for instance, you want to replace the 'Chinese
Trap' with a Western Toilet. Most will actually arrange
and pay for this themselves! The same applies if you
want to paint a room, or do anything that cannot easily
be undone = ask permission first!
As a general rule of thumb, anything considered a fixture
or hidden behind walls is the Landlords responsibility.
Anything that is a fitting, such as a lightbulb, is
your responsibility. Therefore if your home has a wiring
problem, or a tap (faucet) needs a new washer = the
Landlord should pay (Unless the problem was directly
caused by you?). Most Landlords are quite honourable
in this respect, and there are no problems. However,
I did have one try it on, and he lost! Appliances are
trickier to deal with, so here is a clue to what happens:
If there is a problem with an a/c unit, then this is
normally the Landlords responsibility. If your rental
deal includes a TV, then this is probably your problem.
It really depends upon the individuals involved and
their relationship. We are just giving general guidelines
in this section. This will probably be specified in
your rental agreement, if briefly.
In addition to clearing contracts and money matters
with your Bank (If needed), also ensure to have your
meters read and pay all outstanding bills.
If moving to a different area you will need to return
your telephone and modem to China Telecom. Telephones
are segregated into specific local areas, so even if
you are only moving a couple of miles, it my take you
into a different telephone area. It is really stupid,
and something you must learn to live with in China.
Depending upon your exact location and circumstances,
it may be advisable to inform any Building Management
or Security of the date and time of your departure.
- If you are renting an apartment,
then you will most definitely need permission from
Building Services to leave! This is essentially
to protect them, but can mistakenly appear to be
intrusive for Western minds. Therefore we strongly
advise you to visit Building Management a few days
before you are due to leave, and ensure you have
this expressed permission.
- You will also need to physically
return telephones and modems to China Telecom. Expect
this to take several hours (Whilst they play around
with lots of forms in triplicate!) even with a friend's
|Moving your stuff:
Again we will focus on rental properties, although some
things remain valid also for home owners...
- Ensure your Landlord has given
Building Services permission for you to vacate.
Without expressed approval from the Landlord + the
certificate from Building Services = your stuff
is going nowhere!
- This is normal practice in China,
do not become agitated
- Get a truck and staff - very easy
actually, and China has it's own version of 'removal
experts'. However, do not expect to sue them if
they break your favourite figurine, this remains
your fault for sloppy packaging! Plus remember that
Chinese roads can be very uneven.
- In Foshan one of the larger removal
companies has a website here:
and their number is: 0757 8637 6272
information is as supplied by the Chinese Embassy in
UK, as dated 20th June 2008, and/or other reliable sources.
Please check this information yourself as it may alter
without notice, and whilst we try our best to ensure
it is correct, please do not hold us responsible for
any errors - this is intended as a simple guide only
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