China Elevator Stories

Apartment Hunting In Shenzhen

My husband and I have to move out of our flat and look for a new one.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


Looking for a clean apartment, not too small, not too expensive

My husband and I have to look for a new apartment in Shenzhen. Our contract will be running out and our landlady wants her apartment back. Apartment hunting in China is not entirely new to me, but the experience we have this time is.

We visit a few residences nearby and ask if there are any apartments for rent. When we can’t find what we are looking for – a flat that is clean, big enough for us, not overpriced, and furnitured, we visit a real estate firm. 

Upon entering, the employees surrounded us like a swarm of bees. We tell them what we are looking for and are shown around all day the next day. We consider only one of the apartments suitable – with the condition that the price is lowered. The agents helps us to talk down the price.

When we go to the apartment to sign the contract, the agent waits there with us. He tells us the landlady is late, because she is stuck in a traffic jam. After waiting for two hours, we decide to wait at home and let them call us once she arrives. I don’t think much of it, but my husband has a bad feeling about it. A little later, the property agent calls and tells us that the landlady has found another tenant who’ll rent the place for the original price. My husband goes there to clarify things.

When he comes back later in the evening, he apologizes to me: “I’m sorry, I couldn’t get them to leave it to us. The property agents probably set us up.”

I’m pretty sure they did.

Something better will come our way

Although what the property agent did wasn’t very nice, I have come to the understanding that he did it out of necessity. You don’t earn a lot as a property agent. This one agent is married to a Taiwanese woman and both the woman and his one-year-old child live in Taiwan. He’ll go there in about half a year’s time to live with them. He probably needs to support them, and maybe he needs to support his parents and grandparents back home. If the landlady cut most of the payment, there wouldn’t have been much left and all their work would have been for nothing. In order to save face, they told us that the landlady had ordered another real estate firm to help her find somebody to rent it.

A little later, my husband says: “Things always happen for a reason. Don’t be too sad about it. Often, if something like this happens, it’s because something better will come your way.” Sure enough, we find a clean apartment only a little later that is not only more affordable, but also comes without the fees for a property agent.

Have you ever had to look for an apartment in Shenzhen?

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