Thursday, January 7, 2010
House hunting day 1
I know some people enjoy house hunting, moving, starting over and all of that… and although I admit to enjoying moving between different countries, I’m definitely not a fan of moving to different places in the same country. It’s dreadful and tiring, and in a place like Shanghai it takes forever (or more) to find a decent flat UNLESS you are on an unlimited budget.
I’m obviously not, so I need something fairly cheap and neat that has a good location. Yeah, try that in Shanghai and see what you get…. Not that much, actually.
Or OK, let me explain what I mean. Not all the flats that I’ve seen are bad. Some are actually really, really nice! But if they are nice, the location isn’t good, and vice versa. Finding a good place with a good location (that doesn’t eat up every single penny I earn) is quite hard. Shanghai housing is really for those with money.
Yesterday I had a total of 5 different agents that showed me 11 flats. Out of those 11, 4 were completely disgusting (old, dirty, falling-apart-like, overpriced and simply… yuk!), 2 were unfurnished, renovated but had a bad location, 2 were OK but had a terrible location, 2 were way too expensive (read: overpriced) and 1 was PERFECT, but when I was there oohhing and aaahing over what I saw another prospective tenant arrived and said he wanted it on the spot. A fierce discussion took place, and even though the lovely landlord preferred me, the sudden attractiveness of the flat made her realize she could make a real buck out of this flat, and therefore the rent went through the roof. In the end I had to decline. However nice a flat is it’s not worth spending all your money on. Or well, that’s just how I see it.
One of the agents I went with was this “we have a fancy website with pretty but overpriced places”-kind, and the places she showed me were the biggest disappointments. She took me to old buildings and showed me flats that were “cliché-Chinese” meaning: all the interior was made up of cupboards with Chinese characters, everything felt a bit dirty and old, and the shelves were full of typical Chinese tourist clutter that is most likely to have come form a fake market.
“I believe many foreigners want to live like this, it is very Chinese!” she said, beaming.
“I guess I’m an exception,” was all I could muster. I don’t buy for a second that any Chinese person would actually want to live like that (besides, I've been to Chinese family homes and they don't look anything like that). It’s like me filling a house with porcelain meatballs and Ikea and Volvo posters simply because I am Swedish, telling others this is a “typical Swedish home.” Would you believe me?
Anyways, today the hunt continues. At least I learn as I go. In the beginning I was all polite even when stepping into places I immediately knew wouldn’t cut it, simply because it felt rude to say “No thanks!” on the spot. But now I’m not that polite anymore. I have to say that a majority of the agents that I saw yesterday were really cool though! I made good friends with three lovely, senior Shanghai ladies that were running one agency at Wukang Lu. During a 40 min-interval that we needed to kill (waiting for a landlord to arrive) we had a real woman-to-woman talk where they curiously wanted to know everything about Swedish men. Were they all taller than me? Muscular? Handsome? (one of the ladies was still single and quite keen).
Another agent (a young guy form Anhui) was also really nice and ended up taking me around on the back of his motorbike, speeding up every time I told him to slow down.
Today’s a new day of Shanghai house hunting, let’s see what it brings.