How to Find and Rent an Apartment in Beijing: Everything You Need to Know

Whether you've arrived in Beijing as an impoverished student or a trailing spouse on a lush expat package, and therefore planning to stay for just a few months or years to come, you're going to need to face the Beijing rental market at one point or another.

There are literally thousands of different apartments for rent in the capital, but prices and conditions can vary enormously. In chic Sanlitun, leafy Chaoyang, student-friendly Wudaokou, or bang-for-your-buck Tongzhou? Furnished or unfurnished? One bedroom hutong courtyard house or ultra-modern high-rise apartment? The possibilities are seemingly endless.

To ease the pain of house-hunting, we've compiled this extensive how-to manual, complete with everything you need to know about renting an apartment in Beijing. So sit back, read up, and hopefully your search will go as smoothly as possible.

Before you even begin... 

  • Cost of living in Beijing, China via Expatistan. Work out how much things really cost, compared to your current city, and therefore how much you can afford to spend on rent.
  • Deciding where to live

  • High-Rise vs. Hutong: How to Choose Your Perfect Beijing Apartment. "Who has it better, hutong-dwellers, or high-rise hermits?" We put the age-old question to bed, and reveal the advantages and pitfalls of both.
  • Where to Live as Expat in Beijing – 5 Things to Consider via Beijing Expat Guide. A handy list of questions to consider before you commit. 
  • Hutong Living: Modern Day Life in an Old School Courtyard. "I thought [that living in a hutong] would be a cool way to embed with the local culture. My wife disagreed.” Long-time Beijinger and contributing writer Jeremiah Jenne reflects on what hutong living really means in this essay.
  • Searching and negotiating 

  • Find an apartment in the Beijinger classifieds section. Browse through hundreds of apartments, updated daily, and filter by location, price range, number of bedrooms and more. Alternatively, connect with people looking for roommates in Beijing, here
  • Essential House Hunting Phrases in Chinese. Apartment hunting is arduous enough under any circumstances. Now imagine doing it in a second language. Thankfully, this trusty list of phrases will help you go toe to toe with landlords and realtors, and hopefully, poring over this list will make the negotiating, signing and settling in go smoothly. 
  • What to Expect in a Chinese Apartment via Beijing Expat Guide. Depending on where you're moving from, apartment living in China can be very different from back home. Dryers? Not a thing. Neither are ovens. But you'll almost certainly get a balcony!
  • Use this App to Stop Getting Ripped Off by Rental Agents. This app is the biggest secret that revolutionized many an apartment-hunting journey, bypassing the need to use agents. No more getting ripped off! We walk you through how to use it.
  • ​​​​​​A Renter’s Guide to What Goes Wrong via beijingkids. A long-time China resident muses on some of the things to check when you think you have found the apartment of your dreams – and a few things to do once you move in.
  • Actually moving in 

  • Get a Move On With These Reputable Beijing Relocation Companies In an ideal world, you’d pack two suitcases and bid a cheery farewell before heading off to start your next chapter. The reality is that moving and packing can be a real pain in the arse. Fortunately, several companies around the city can help you to reduce the burden.
  • Now you're there... 

  • Essential Beijing Apartment Hacks. We’ve put together a list of some clever apartment hacks to get you excited about your new pad and help you make the most of your Beijing living situation.
  • 10 Ways to Make Your Home More Pollution Proof. Sadly, air pollution is a fact of life in Beijing (at least for now). Here are ten handy tips to get you on the right track... 
  • And because we like things to go in tens... Ten Tips for Choosing and Using Air Purifiers in Beijing.
  • 6 Tips to Create a Stress-Free Home Office. While working from home may sound like the dream, there’s also the constant risk of distraction and procrastination.  Here are six tips to help you stay on track when working out of the gaze of superiors.  
  • Tips on How to Turn Your Fling With Beijing Into Something More. Read about the small contingent of Beijing renters who have undertaken the task of transforming their apartments into a home of their dreams, driven by the simple belief that they can do better. 
  • We hope you won't need to use this resource, but this article explains Why the Bathroom in Your Chinese Apartment Smells Awful (And How to Fix It).
  • Protect yourself and your new home

  • Beating the Landlord: New Rental Policies Tip in Favor of Tenants' Interests. Get the low-down on the online platform which collects the data of landlords and renters, shows availabilities, monitors the rental market, and allows renters and landlords to rate each other.  
  • What did we miss? What else do you need to know?
    Write to us at, or in the comments section below. 

    Images: Uni You,