It’s not unheard of for positions in the more developed cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou for the housing responsibilities to be left up to the teachers. This shouldn’t necessarily be taken as the sign of a less-than-par working situation – on the contrary, it very well could indicate that you’ve landed a job in a very comfortable, western-friendly setting where surviving isn’t nearly the challenge that it could be somewhere else.
That being said, the prospect of finding your own accommodation in a city half way around the world in a country whose official language isn’t English can still be pretty intimating. In fact, it just happens to be the most popular question I get asked when giving an interview for those types of positions. Here’s how I respond:
- First off to give some perspective, those who are looking to come to China for the first are often understandably nervous about the housing situation, but those who have already been to China and are looking to return seem to never be worried about it. They’ve seen how accessible the process can be and realize there’s nothing really to worry about.
- Here’s a super-comprehensive blog article written about finding housing in Shanghai (which is applicable to similar cities) that I recommend often. It covers:
- The different options available for housing.
- The different methods that people go about finding and acquiring their housing.
- The prices ranges associated with all of the above.
- Even if you take your sweet time finding the perfect apartment, you’ll never be out on the street living under a bridge. There are many hostels to be found that are both cheap and comfortable. If you’re flexible and don’t mind a few roommates (especially on the weekends), you can have transitional housing for as little as 45RMB/night (~$8USD) – a cost quite possibly cheaper on a per-night basis than even that cheap apartment that is later acquired.