Insights: How to find accommodation

It’s one of the most daunting tasks for your exchange abroad. How do you find somewhere liveable and within your means overseas? In an unfamiliar location and with unfamiliar processes? Possibly in an unfamiliar language? Don’t be overwhelmed! The process isn’t too different to what you might be familiar with in your home country. This should be a fun process resulting in you finding a home away from home! Here are some tips given by some of Peking University’s international students.

zhongguanxinyuan
北京大学中关新园

1. START EARLY

Talk to your exchange advisors at your home university about what options are available to you. Accommodation arrangements are dependent upon the type of course and program you will take at Peking University and the arrangement your home university has with Peking University.

On-campus accommodation include 北京大学勺园 Shaoyuan International Student Apartments, and 北京大学中关新园 Zhongguanxinyuan Global Village. Both are furnished and come with air-conditioning, internet access, and laundry services.

If your program provides on-campus accommodation, stay informed about any updates on your status as in many instances, vacancies are limited and may be very competitive.

If your program does not provide on-campus accommodation, it is important to stay up to date with the latest policies and procedures when renting a place in Beijing. In accordance to Chinese law, a lodging registration process must be followed – on time – at a local police station by all students living in Beijing. Off-campus accommodation arrangements must be organised by the students themselves.

Further, it’s never too early to start browsing the market, to ensure you are matched with the best-suited accommodation.

2. BE PROACTIVE

If you are finding your own accommodation, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ensure to ask your exchange advisor, previous Peking University international students from your home university, and join any relevant Peking University Facebook and WeChat groups for accommodation postings. Social media websites are great sources for gathering general information about an area. However, do treat postings on social media and unofficial platforms with caution as transactions can go unaccounted for. Many Peking University international students have used the following online platforms to find their off-campus accommodation:

Screen Shot 2018-03-30 at 2.54.23 pmOther recommended websites include:

  • anjuke.com
  • 5i5j.com
  • 99fang.com

Be aware that some postings may be falsely advertised and it is not uncommon for apartments to be misrepresented online. Research is key. As an international student, while you may not be there in person to scope out your living arrangements, do not be afraid to contact the landlord/landlady and ask away. A landlord/landlady’s disposition is especially important if you run into any issues and should require their assistance.

At best, try to visit before paying anything at all. It is not uncommon for students to arrange short-term accommodation at a local hotel or hostel to first get their bearings in the area.

Short-term accommodation options near Peking University include:

  • Zhongguanyuan Global Village PKU (Next to Peking University’s East Gate)

Address: No. 126 Zhongguanyuan North Road, Haidian District, Beijing, China
Tel: 86-10-62752288
Mail: pkugv@pku.edu.cn
http://www.pkugv.com/index.asp

  • Peking University Shaoyuan Guest House (on campus)

Address: No.5 Yiheyuan Road, Haidian District, Beijing, China
Tel: 86-10-62752216
E-mail: wys@pku.edu.cn
http://web5.pku.edu.cn/pkucc/shaoyuan/html/aboutsh/aboutsy.htm

  • PekingUni International Hostel (fifteen-minute walk from from campus)

Address: No.150 Chengfu Road, Haidian District, Beijing, China
Tel: 86-10-62549667, 86-10-82610702
Fax: 86-10-62635073
http://www.pekinghostel.com.cn/index_e.html

  • Beijing Post & Telecom Conference Centre (twenty-minute walk from campus)

Address: No.5 Guajiatun Haidian District, Beijing China, 100091
Tel: 8610-6257779, 8610-62547799/62542275
Fax: 86-10-62551175
http://www.bjposthotel.com/en/us.shtm?menu=menuUs

  • FurmamaXpress Hotel(ZhongGuanCun)

Address:68 North 4th Ring West Road, Haidian District, Beijing 100080, P.R.China
Tel:8610-58986688
Fax:8610-58986689
http://www.furamaxpress.com

screen-shot-2018-03-30-at-3-38-46-pm-e1522395743134.png
Peking University and surroundings

3. THINGS TO CONSIDER

Classes at Peking University can start as early as 8am. While options further away from the campus may seem tempting, the peak hour commute can turn a fifteen-minute bus ride to an hour-long one. As many other universities such as Tsinghua University and Beijing Language and Culture University are in Peking University’s vicinity, many exchange students and foreigners live in Wudaokou (see above). It is an area in close proximity to Peking University (often a 5-10 minute bus ride or a 20 minute walk), with the convenience of many housing agencies (e.g. 我爱我家/5i5j), shopping malls and supermarkets, as well as many student-friendly restaurants, cafes, and bars.

Again, be sure you are asking the right questions to the landlord/lady, and look for discrepancies. Is furniture included? How much do electricity and water usage bills cost? Are there any local restrictions?

autumnIMG84

4. NAVIGATING THE MARKET

The vast majority of agents and online platforms exclusively use Chinese as their form of communication. While there are English platforms such as the classified section of ‘echinacities’ and ‘thebeijinger’, they are generally not as near as extensive as the Chinese platforms and do not tend to cater to student budgets and locations. It is recommended to learn a few useful Chinese phrases before your arrival. You can also rely on translation apps to get you by (Google Translate and Pleco are both commonly used), or find a local friend or Chinese-speaking friend to help. There are a handful of English-speaking agents who may charge a higher service fee. However, if possible, it is best to find an agent who’s used to dealing with foreigners so they will be able to show you some good places very quickly; an agent who isn’t might be a hit or miss.

STUDENT VOICES

weiminghuIMG85

 1ON CAMPUS: SHAOYUAN

 Where do you live?
Shaoyuan, Building 8

Was housing organised for you? If no, how did you find accommodation?
Housing was only organized after pestering my supervisor in Australia. It was hard work given that before I came, my teacher was on holiday. I recommend you to contact your supervisors early so they have time to arrange your accommodation. If not possible to live on campus, living in Wudaokou (五道口) is also a really good option.

 Would you recommend this to future students?
Yes, if the department you study at is relatively close. If not, Zhongguanxinyuan (中关新园) is another good on-campus option that may be even closer to your classrooms.

How do you arrange food and other details?
I bought all my furniture from Ikea and made do with what I had as the furniture came with the room. Washing is done in the Shaoyuan building, with washing machines on every floor, and there’s also a washing service on campus.

2. ON CAMPUS: ZHONGGUANXINYUAN

Where do you live?
Zhongguanxinyuan, Building 3

Was housing organised for you? If no, how did you find accommodation?
Housing was arranged online by the university. It was extremely competitive to get a place and I heard that rooms booked out in about 8 seconds after opening. However, I know a few people who initially did not get a place but went in person to the reception after arriving in Beijing, and they had vacancies. I wouldn’t rely too much on this happening, though.

 Would you recommend this to future students?
Yes, it is fairly recently built with almost all amenities covered in the dormitory fees. For my building, my shared living room and bathroom are cleaned every other day.

How did you arrange food and other details?
I bought all additional furniture from Ikea (Peking University had organised a trip for us), as well as homewares from the local supermarket. There are also ex-students selling second hand goods in WeChat groups for incoming students. There’s a kitchen and two washing machines on every floor, though it’s more economic for me to eat out at the canteens, from convenience stores, or to order food delivery.

3. OFF-CAMPUS: ZHONGGUANCUN

Where do you live?
I rent my own place in Zhongguancun (中关村).

Was housing organised for you? If no, how did you find accommodation?
Nope, I used the自如APP(Ziroom). It’s pretty nifty, everything can be done online.

Would you recommend this to future students?
I’d recommend this app if you have a good handle of Chinese for the convenience of choosing exactly what you want.

How do you arrange food and other details?
I often eat out or order online out of convenience…but went to IKEA for furniture.

Author: Janet S. (UNSW Australia)

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