How is housing in China? Buying and renting in China

In order to find the right accommodation in China, it takes speed, perseverance and, usually, a good friend or realtor who speaks the local dialect. We will walk you through the different types of available accommodation, what is likely to be included in your rental, and the advantages and disadvantages of buying property in China.

There are several distinct styles of houses and apartments for rent in China, from conventional housing to luxurious villas with swimming pools and gyms.

There are some short-term rental options available when you decide which one is right for you, but most regular apartments have a one-year lease. Remember: at least two months before your goal move-in date, you’ll need to start house hunting.

How is housing in China?

In China, there is no private ownership of land. You can only receive land use rights. For residential purposes, a land lease of up to 70 years is usually issued.

Foreigners who have been employed or studying in China for at least a year are permitted to purchase a property. For around a week, foreigners go through supervisory processes before they are allowed to buy properties in specified areas.


Ownership laws for foreigners and residents were harmonized at the national level in 2001, but the lifting of limits is being enforced by local governments. Free Keep – has the property’s ownership rights.

Hiring a lawyer is important, particularly if the buyer is not familiar with the real estate system in China.

A down payment of CNY5,000 (US$829) to CNY30,000 (US$4,974) must be made when a property has been identified, along with the signing of the “Beijing Commodity Housing Purchase Offer” Currently, with the signing of the “Beijing Commodity Housing Pre-Sale Contract” the initial payment is 30 percent of the purchase price. The remaining amount must be paid off after the registration of the contract. Acceptance of land, transfer of ownership, and obtaining the title certificate follow.

The seller or the creator is responsible for offering the following certificates:

  • China Condominium Units Certificate of Use of State Land (Guoyou Tudi Shiyong Zheng)
  • Land Planning Certificate of Construction (Jianshe Yongdi Guihua Xuke Zheng)
  • Certificate of Building Project Preparation (Jianshe Gongcheng Guihua Xuke Zheng)
  • Building Project Starting Certificate (Jianshe Gongcheng Kaigong Zheng)
  • Certificate of Sales (Xiaoshou Xuke Zheng)

How much would it cost to purchase a house in China?

On average, the price per square meter would cost you over 41000 yuan when you buy an old house in Beijing. According to Fangjia.com, this is This means you’re going to have to pay more than 4 million yuan per square meter or even have to pay more than $0.65 million if you want to purchase a two bedroom apartment in Beijing.

Chinese Average Rent
The rent you can pay, of course, depends on a lot of variables, and some destinations are just a lot more costly than others. However, here are the common median prices to get an idea of how much you can expect to pay for one month’s rent in China (for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center):

  1. Beijing: roughly 6,500 CNY
  2. Shanghai: about CNY 7,000
  3. Guangzhou: roughly 3,500 CNY

It is extremely unlikely to find a whole house for rent in one of the major cities in China, but the minimum rent for a spacious apartment can be around CNY 10,000 in Beijing and Shanghai and CNY 8,000 in Guangzhou.

Renting a house in china

As this country is a big destination for expats, it is becoming less of a struggle to find an apartment or house to rent in China. In reality, landlords and major hotel chains are getting more and more used to welcoming expats, while their assistance is provided by multilingual real estate agents. However, at the same time, the competition is huge and the cost of living is at an all-time high, especially in Shanghai and Beijing.

Various accommodation styles

Although there are different types of accommodation for every need, in the big cities where large apartment blocks are the norm, most expats who move to China settle down.

However, in China, there are various types of accommodation you can rent:

Standard apartments: For expats, a popular option. Usually, standard apartments are unfurnished and not always in great condition, but if you are on a budget, they are fine.

High-end apartment complexes: Typically new, furnished and providing a higher standard of living, these apartments are more costly than normal apartments.

Serviced apartments: great for a longer assignment for business people (i.e. a few weeks or months). They offer the luxury of hotels, but more space is often typically more costly.

Villa communities: the home of those with an expat kit, typically. Although spacious, well-equipped and the ideal atmosphere for families with children, most expats are hardly affordable and often located far from the centers of the city.

Traditional Chinese housing: for tourists, a common option. A special experience is made possible by conventional housing. However, given that they are typically situated at street level, these places may be run-down and less stable.
The above list is intended to assist you in China with your apartment search. Keep in mind that most locations are furnished and that rental rates often rely to a large extent on facilities and venue.

The length of your stay will also decide what kind of accommodation is most appropriate for you. There are various ways of performing the housing search depending on that.

It is possible to rent most “regular” apartments for at least one year. Thus, if you plan on living for a while, finding a place to rent in China is probably easier than finding a short-term rental. However, you will have to depend on the assistance of your boss, a friend, or an English-speaking real estate agent here, too.


When it comes to high-quality real estate, there is a lot of competition because of the large number of expats searching for an apartment to rent in China.

Necessary documents for renting in China

You shouldn’t need something out of the ordinary in terms of paperwork required for renting in China. It should be necessary to have a valid passport and a visa indicating how long you are permitted to remain in China. When you meet with a prospective landlord as well as for his ID details. That will help you avoid scams about housing.

The arrangement for leasing and the deposit

Details concerning the monthly rent, the terms of payment, the period of the lease, the value of the deposit, the restrictions and the facilities provided in the rent should be included in the rental contract. It should also state explicitly whether you are permitted to keep pets.

Equipped or Unfurnished?

You can also obtain an inventory of all furniture and other items included in the contract, listing their general condition, if your new home is furnished. Make sure that this list is reviewed and accepted beforehand so that you will not be kept responsible later for any harm that already occurs.

Rentals in the short term

If you intend to get a short-term rental room in China, major cities with large expat populations are probably the best place to go. There are different websites focused on expats who are able to move directly into their home and stay for a short period of time only. It is possible to find small (sometimes serviced) apartments with regular or weekly rates on Wimdu.

Stuff to be understood about short-term rentals

For a monthly rental, the average price varies from city to city. You should expect to pay about CNY 20,000 a month in the bigger cities, which is very pricey. Another alternative could be couch surfing or sharing a place with a nearby Chinese family if you notice that you can’t afford a temporary place on your own.

Can you own property as a foreigner in China?

“Owning” may not be the correct term, as property is simply leased for a period of 70 years in China. The lease is usually extended after this period. However, if your property is required for growth, the Ministry of Housing and Construction will potentially nullify your lease at any time. The pay you will then get could be much smaller than what you initially received. This is typically not influenced by newer houses and apartments. If you are looking to purchase an older property in China, do so on a freehold basis. A higher buyout payment is expected for this category and is therefore less appealing to developers.

In China, is it possible to buy a house and get a permanent visa?

The short reply is no. There are fairly strict conditions for obtaining permanent residence in China and none of them quote buying a house as a qualifying clause. If you buy a house here, however, you will need to live in it and if you spend more than five years in the country, you will be eligible for a permanent residence with distinct merits.


Even, it is totally out of the question to obtain citizenship by buying a house in China. The method is too difficult on its own and owning property in China would not be counted as a special gain.

China Buying Land and Finance

It is neither easy nor cheap to buy property in China, so you will most likely need to get a mortgage. Nevertheless, you would need to increase at least 30 percent of the sales price yourself to be considered for one. And it may be much more, depending on the price of the property and the employer’s credibility (how much they pay, how trustworthy they are when it comes to wages).

It is important to note that if you are not married to a Chinese citizen, some Chinese banks will not be able to give you a mortgage. Others could only endorse particular investments in housing. However, along with all necessary documentation, take your signed and notarized contract to the bank (call ahead to find out which documents you need to submit) to find out your options.

Aside from the mortgage, when purchasing property in China, there are other costs that you need to bear in mind.

In China, what is the Property Tax?

The taxes extracted from property by the Chinese government are often focused on title transactions. China does not charge a holding charge for residential land, unlike most other countries. The main source is the 3 percent land value tax that the buyer pays for the sale of the property rights. Recurring property taxes are, however, imposed on commercial property owners.

In China, is it possible to buy a house and get a permanent visa?

The short reply is no. There are fairly strict conditions for obtaining permanent residence in China and none of them quote buying a house as a qualifying clause. If you buy a house here, however, you will need to live in it and if you spend more than five years in the country, you will be eligible for a permanent residence with distinct merits.

Even, it is totally out of the question to obtain citizenship by buying a house in China. The method is too difficult on its own and owning property in China would not be counted as a special gain.

The Buying of a House in China Method and Measures-

For foreigners, when purchasing property in China, hiring a real estate agent is necessary. Once you have proof of your long-standing residence in China, they will assist you in organizing visits to different properties and start negotiations if one of them is necessary. The easiest way to do this is by submitting the terms and conditions of the purchase to a preliminary contract. You have to pay a portion of the negotiated price if the current owner agrees.

You will then draft and sign the official contract jointly with the current owner.

Bear in mind that, because you are a foreigner, this contract needs to be notarized and the government must authorize the purchase. Finally, to get the title of the property transferred to your name, you need to visit the Deed and Title Transferring Office. That could take a couple of weeks.


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One response to “How is housing in China? Buying and renting in China”

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