Renting an Apartment in China

What’s an essential step for every foreigner arriving in China?

Renting an apartment!

Of course, there’re a lot of English-speaking agencies these days which can help you find the best place to stay. But it’s always better to know some basic vocabulary. It might help you navigate and even get you a better deal.

If you’re dealing with an agent for renting an apartment in China, make sure to learn some useful vocabulary in this article. However, we also wrote an article on how to use apps for renting an apartment in China.

Let’s learn some phrases and words which can come in handy when searching for a place that will suit you best. Read also some interesting facts about moving to a new apartment in China in our previous articles.

👉 Who is Who?

Renting an apartment in China?
There’re 2 must-know words in Chinese when it comes to apartment hunting!

Who owns the apartment you will rent?

  • 房东 (fángdōng) = landlord

Who do you ask for help if you need to find a place to live in?

  • 中介 (zhōngjiè) = agent

So, first, you will ask 中介 (zhōngjiè) to find a place that fits your needs, then you sign a contract with 房东 (fángdōng) and will be dealing with him/her from that time on.

👉 Any Requirements?

The first thing an agent (or 中介 zhōngjiè) will ask is the requirements you have.

·要求 (yāoqiú) = requirements

What does your dream house look like?

Do you want to live in a quiet compound, or is it more important for you to live close to the international community, with places you can hang out in with your friends after work?

Let’s choose a neighborhood first!

  • 离地铁站近
  • Lí dìtiězhàn jìn
  • Close to the subway station
  • 安静一点儿的
  • Ānjìng yīdiǎn er de
  • In a quiet neighborhood
  • 小区里可以跑步
  • Xiǎoqū lǐ kěyǐ pǎobù
  • Allowing residents to jog in the compound
  • 旁边有银行,超市,等等
  • Pángbiān yǒu yínháng, chāoshì, děngděng
  • With banks, supermarkets, etc. nearby

👉 What’s next?

After you decide what kind of neighborhood you’d like to live in, you can tell your agent the requirements for the apartment. 

Types of Apartments

  • 整租 (zhěngzū) or 合租 (hézū)

If you want to live alone and have an apartment all for yourself, then you should be looking for 整租 (zhěngzū) – whole (private) apartment.

If you’re looking to share a place with other people, which is a cheaper option and gives you a chance to make new friends, then, 合租 (hézū) – shared apartment – is a perfect option for you.

Cost of Rent

  • 租金 (zūjīn) = rent

The agent will definitely ask you about the rent. It’s the price you expect to pay for the apartment. It’s always helpful to narrow down the possible options when you have a specific price range.

You can say that you’re looking for a place with a rent price less than…  [price] + 以下 (yǐxià). Make sure that you also ask about agent fee, which can vary a lot depending on the agency and agent.

Number of Rooms

  • 一室一厅 (yī shì yī tīng) or 两室一厅 (liǎng shì yī tīng)

How many rooms would you like to have in your apartment?

一室一厅 (yī shì yī tīng) literally translates as “one-room-one-living room”, and 两室一厅 (liǎng shì yī tīng) stands for “two-room-one-living-room”. If you have a big family, you might ask for 三室一厅 sān shì yī tīng (three-room-one-living room) or even 四室一厅 sì shì yī tīng (four-room-one-living-room).

👉 Any extras?

Here are even more options for the requirements you might have:

Deposit and Future Payments

  • 押一付三 (yā yī fù sān)

This phrase is literally translated as “deposit-one-pay-three”. These numbers may vary upon the landlord’s requirements. 押一付三 (yā yī fù sān) means that the landlord wants you to pay a 1-month deposit and 3 months of rent in advance.

Some landlords might ask for a 2-month deposit or even a half-year rent payment in advance. You can always try to negotiate. It’s possible to find a 一付一 (yā yī fù yī) option too!

Types of Electricity Bills

  • 电费 (diànfèi) = cost of electricity

Electricity bills are an important thing to discuss with your agent in advance. This way you won’t get enormous bills for electricity at the end of each month.

There’re 2 types of rates in China for different types of places:

  • 民用 (mínyòng) or 商用 (shāngyòng)

民用 (mínyòng) is a residential type, which means there are rates for residential buildings, while 商用 (shāngyòng) is a commercial type, which goes for buildings officially claimed as being used for commercial purposes. The electricity rates for the second type will be much higher!


  • 有阳台 (yǒu yángtái) = with a balcony
  • 有电梯 (yǒu diàntī) = with an elevator

👉 How about Pets?

Pet-lovers, this option is for you.

It’s frustrating when you just found a perfect apartment that suits all your requirements, and then, when you’re about to sign the contract, the landlord suddenly says “no pets allowed”. And you actually have a cat!

  • 宠物友好 (chǒngwù yǒuhǎo) = Pet-friendly

Always mention this to your agent in advance. Some landlords don’t allow pets at all, as they think they might damage the furniture. Some of the landlords might allow cats, but not dogs. Be prepared!

Once you’ve listed all our requirements, the agent will bring you to see potential apartments. Pick the one that fits you the best, sign the contract (签合同 qiān hétong)… and move in!

Did you find these phrases for an apartment search in China useful?

Can you make a sentence using this structure? Share your thoughts with us on social media!

View this post on all our social media accounts – and see how other learners have replied to it! 👉

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