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So, we moved home, amazing to think it has been a year already. Have to say that we're pretty good at the process, having done it 9 times in the last decade.

Renting in Shanghai is not a million miles from London - but at a much faster pace. I guess 20M people make for a healthy turnover. We literally had the keys in our hands 2 hours after negotiating the price. Three days later and we're fully moved in.

Here's a few extra notes I have on renting in Shanghai:

  • Find a handful of agents and keep pushing them. I saw the best apartments on the days when I'd made a call in the morning asking for something. Otherwise they're dishing out whatever is on the books. Unfortunately, the best agents are the ones who are annoying you at all hours.

  • If it sounds similar to one you've seen - it probably is. The agents share apartments between each other. Call them out on it, the best deals will be with their own client anyway.

  • Negotiate hard. If time is on your side that's a big advantage. We had a month to move but could do it with 48hrs notice. After a few days with a still empty apartment the mental arithmetic weighs in your favour.

  • A guy with a truck is very easy to come by. Get bigger than you think, you have more stuff than you know. They're not particular sensitive to the notion of fragile so pack well. Don't feel sorry for the guy when he stands in your doorway sweating with his hand out - it's his job. The going rate is around 50RMB/hour.

  • Chinese landlords are more fussy about the apartment than British ones, which is surprising considering the availability and cost of labour. We did everything on the Landlord's list (clean the oven, wash the curtain etc) ourselves because he was clearly trying to rip us off. For a guy to install three lights in our new apartment cost 100RMB. Retouching and painting is similarly cheap.

  • Polyfiller in Chinese is laofen (old powder) or niezi. It's sold in the more builder-oriented hardwares shacks as opposed to the bathroom ones (there's one on Fuxing between Ruijin and Sinan) I got a bag full for 2RMB. If you're getting paint,

  • Take photos of everything. We had a series of our discussion (arguments) with our previous landlord about what was in which condition when we moved in. Amazingly our landlord had covered a patch of mold a few months earlier then tried to blame us for both the mold and the bad paint job. We had pictures already.

  • If your building has an ayi, make her happy from day-one by giving her all the empty boxes and packaging. She'll sell it to the rickshaw peddlers for a handsome profit and in return your bikes will be well looked after.

  • Finally, the essential. ADSL. Hope and pray that your building is covered by China Unicom. They can handle up to 4MB which is around the same price as China Telecom's max 2MB line. If you end up with Telecom's 1MB connection then throw their moden straight in the Bin and buy a proper one.

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