Chengdu Apartment Hunting

The apartment complex.

{Note: All of the photos were taken when I first moved in so the house still needed to be cleaned and organized. I’m not a slob, haha}

Around April I mentioned to my company that
I wanted to switch apartments because I wanted a kitchen I could use without worrying about a rat running around through the cabinets.  They told me that they would look come mid-late June, but I thought that was too late so in the beginning of June I asked a close friend of mine if she would help.

I was spending most of my free time in the Wuhouci area, and decided that it would make sense for me to move there and commute back and forth to work. I decided I would find a house that the company would pay for or I would take the housing allowance, whichever worked out better. My company would only give 1,500 RMB ($234) a month in housing allowance, but they would pay up to 2,000 RMB ($312) a month if the company were to rent the house. I decided to go for the later, because I would have more income at my disposal. It would work in my favor to take the housing allowance if I wanted a roommate, in which case I could live in one of the newer apartments.

My bedroom.

At 32, I can tell you I am in no mood to have roommates at my age. Except for a brief stint home where I shared a bedroom for a few months with my sister before coming to China, I haven’t lived with anyone for almost six years. I do know that some companies do give higher housing allowances than mine, but I don’t currently work at them so I decided to work with what my budget was. This mainly meant I could live in a small shoebox like I did in Korea or I could look for something a little older and have more space.

The living and dining room areas.

I decided that I would look at the older buildings after my friend and I were priced out of the newer ones in Wuhouci. One apartment we went to was 1,500 RMB on the first floor that smelled of stale smoke and had buckled wooden floors. The catch about China is most things are what you see is what you get. So, there wouldn’t be much improvement for that. I was shocked someone could charge that for a place that was a shit hole. My friend reassured me it was common in China, but you really need to look and take your time and you can find something decent.

The spare bedroom.

We went to a place she knew other foreigners had lived in the past and we inquired about any places up for rent and the sweet security guard said one was coming up and that he would call when we could come see it. After a week of futile hunting and turning up with nothing the security guard called and we headed off to view the apartment. I walked in and loved all the wood and natural light of the place. Granted it needed cleaning, but it wasn’t something I couldn’t handle, haha. There were a few things that needed to be sorted, but I figured in the long-term it’s not a huge deal. There was a slight hole in the ceiling and the faucet in the bathroom has very slow small trickle of water. So I called my company and said I would take it. At 1,700 RMB ($266) a month, I had found a place within their budget. I figured it would take a few weeks to move in, but my company told my current landlord we were ending contract, because I was “leaving” and I had to move out within 4 days. I wasn’t expecting that, but I basically moved all of my shit into the new house in less than 24 hours using a few taxi rides and the subway. A few friends helped me clean it and it has been my home since!

The kitchen.

A few minor issues I learned are completely normal here. One cockroaches are basically everywhere, you will see them outside on the sidewalk during the summer, and they are common in old buildings. So are rats. I lived in a relatively new building before and a rat visited me on the 18th floor, so knowing they may come visit on the 4th floor was something I expected.

The cockroaches I kept spraying for during the first few weeks and while I was away my good friend came and sprayed once a week for me to keep them away.

The bathroom.

As for the rat, I’m not sure when it moved in. But I finally tried to seal the holes with steel wool and duct tape, only after a few days to be met with a chewed up kitchen door and a few rat turds. Sure enough I go out and buy a rat trap and the fucker is gone again. So next week, my company is going to come and take a look. Maybe they can persuade the landlord to seal the kitchen completely, I can only dream.

The outside exercise area.

If I plan to stay in the same apartment for more than one year I may ask for them to fix the tap, or I’ll hire someone to fix it myself to get rid of little annoyances. Apartment living in Korea was interesting, China is a different game all together. One of the biggest things to have is an open mind and a willingness to adapt and you will be fine. Like the lady from my company says, “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Eventually my rat anxiety will get better with each rat I get rid of, according to her.

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