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My Experience of Renting a House in China: Paying the Rent


Renting in China

Yesterday was that day again.

Usually, this day comes every three, six or worse for some, twelve, months. Most landlords require their tenants, Chinese or foreign, to pay their rent in larger intervals rather than the

Most landlords require their tenants, Chinese or foreign, to pay their rent in larger intervals rather than the the monthly basis as is the norm in Britain.

I am required to pay my rent to my landlady every six months. My partner played a hard bargain to reach this agreement; the landlady arguing in favour of us paying an entire year upfront. Luckily this is no problem for our combined salary but for numerous Chinese, they are required to ask family (usually parents) if they do not possess such capital.

For those considering to move to China for work, this is worthy of consideration. On signing a contract for an apartment, you will be required to pay a deposit and at least three months rent upfront.

For reference, when I committed to my first apartment here I paid a total of 9900 RMB. This composed of the letting agent fee 1100RMB, deposit 2200RMB (one month's rent) and the three months up front 6600RMB. Indeed, my first landlady was quite happy with three-month chunks of rent rather than the six months of the current.

This was fortunate as I had just arrived in China. Maybe newcomers suffer the 'newbie with no physical cash conundrum'. Even if you prepare for coming to China by informing your bank at home, you can still encounter problems. A former colleague of mine arrived armed with his debit card from the States. However, even though he had notified his bank at home, he was still unable to withdraw the required funds to pay his first installment of rent. He had to borrow money from the boss – his new boss – within days of meeting her.

I avoided this problem by travelling to China with a large amount of physical RMB. This was somewhat of a security risk. I recommend to do this but you should keep a low profile.

If, like me, you are required to pay in six month or twelve month chunks, do pay attention to your monthly outgoings. I know a few stories of people failing to have satisfactory monies to pay their rent then asking others for loans/asking their employer for an advance. You don't want to be this person.

Anyway, I digress from the point of my writing today. I write to inform you of how to make a bank transfer in China. The process is simple but for those unaccustomed shall be daunting.

Paying Rent

Making a Bank Transfer

First, you should find an ATM. In most cases, you'll find it easier to use an ATM belonging to your bank. I usually go to the main branch, in my instance the Bank of China, through fear of my card details being stolen. Chinese will instil this fear into you alongside the fear of having your apartment burgled and eating reused oil, acquired from the gutter no less.

Bank of China


Second, ascertain which of the safety cabins containing an ATM are free. In the likelihood of all the ATMs being used, you might have to wait a while. The natives oft-manage to spend an unreasonable amount of time to do the simplest of tasks, not least when faced with a computer.


Third, check that the ATM you are using has an English option. Here, you can see an English button before you start. On some machines, though, you have to wait until you put your card in the device. If English is not offered, press the cancel button (the red button on the keypad, just like at home) to return your card.


Fourth, you want to transfer, so choose transfer. The transfer screen has many options. Here I choose UnionPay (the Chinese version of Visa) Inter-Bank Transfer. My landlady uses UnionPay so this is suitable. In some cases, you won't be given these options. If not, just choose transfer. The ATM you are using isn't as technologically advanced as the one pictured.

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Fifth, the landlord should provide you with a bank number they wish you to transfer money to in the future. Indeed, most live far from the house they own to rent (mine in Beijing, some 1000km away) so won't want to collect cash from you in person. Enter this bank number then press confirm.


Six, this stage will give you an opportunity to test your Chinese reading skills. Along with the bank number (previous step) the landlord should have written the name of the account holder (probably their name). If this was handwritten, therefore difficult to read for the untrained eye, have a friend or colleague type the name into your phone. This will be far easier to read. Armed with the legible name, you'll be able to confirm the correct account.


Finally, print the receipt. Before this, you'll be informed the instruction has been given to the bank to transfer the money and be further told you can cancel within 24 hours.


Bank Fees and Moving

Are there any fees? Yes. Transferring money from one account to another, even with the same bank, has a charge. The minimum fee for my bank is 3 RMB.

I had to pay 18 RMB.

Note that the charge will be in addition to the value you have transferred: rent + charge.

There you have it. A clear guide for making your first bank transfer using an ATM in China.

This year our current landlady has threatened to increase our rent should we sign another years’ contract. In the ever growing prospect of this, we shan’t be staying in this apartment, much to her disdain. Quite, before we moved in here there were some ten people sharing a two-bedroom residence. They managed to destroy some of the internal areas, a cost far exceeding the deposit paid. We’d be happy to stay here but are scornful of paying a higher price than is necessary.

Perhaps in the future, then, one might be able to read of my experience renting and moving to a new abode.

See you.


Carrie Lee Night from Northeast United States on May 18, 2020:

Sounds complicated. Thank you for sharing :)

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on February 09, 2017:

Goodness, paying 6 months or a years rent is a lot of money to find! My rent is paid weekly!

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