Accommodation will always be provided in one of two ways; either a school will provide accommodation for you, or you will be given a housing allowance on top of your salary and the school will assist you in finding an apartment.
Accommodation provided by your employer school
Accommodation provided by a school may be basic, but comfortable. The apartment will include all the basics such as a bed, TV, basic kitchen appliances and air-con, however you may need to buy additional home comforts. You’ll be responsible for paying for utilities bills, which typically total around RMB400 a month and your school will help you to arrange.
Often an apartment will be shared with another teacher, although sometimes teachers are given their own apartment. If you have a preference then we suggest you make the school aware of this before signing a contract. If it’s your first time in China then we suggest you consider sharing an apartment as your flatmate may become a friend, and someone to advise and look out for you!
You can move in as soon as you arrive to begin work and your apartment will be located in close proximity, usually a short walk, to the school in which you work. Teachers working for a university or international school may live in dedicated teacher accommodation situated on campus.
If you would like to see example photos of an apartment provided by a school you are considering working for, just ask your point of contact or Opportunity China Coordinator.
Some employers offer a housing allowance as standard; the school will pay you a monthly allowance on top of your salary (roughly around two-thirds of the local rate for a monthly rent, or between RMB1500- 2500) and you will then pay for the remainder.
We understand that the thought of finding an apartment in China is daunting, however this option does give the flexibility to live exactly where you choose. You will be assisted to find your new home by a bi-lingual member of staff who will help find a place that meets your budget and expectations.
Just as in your home country, most rentals are for a 10 or 12 month contract. It is common to pay 2 months’ rent as a security deposit, and 2 months’ rent upfront. Prepare to have funds of at least £800/ US$1012 available for this purpose.
Many schools will provide a small accommodation loan to assist with up-front rental costs, which is paid back by taking a small amount out of your salary over a number of months.
On Arrival in China
On arrival you may need to spend a few nights in a hotel (good chain business hotels can be secured for around 170RMB a night) until you find an apartment you are happy with. If an apartment is provided then most schools will try to have it ready for your arrival, but again a few nights in a hotel may be required.
Even if your school has made a good attempt at providing you with all the necessary furnishings and kitchen supplies, as stipulated in your contract, you may still need to buy a few things. For example, there may not be any mirrors in the entire apartment, blinds and curtains could be absent or damaged, and you may need extra storage space for your personal belongings. Some of the kitchen items and utensils may be a little old. Your kitchen and fridge is likely to need a good clean, and you’ll need to bring with you or purchase small items such as towels!
Plan on spending some time during your first week in China going shopping for necessities and your school should be able to point you in the right direction, or provide some advice. Again, usually there will be a staff member who can assist you with such tasks.
Note that it’s also uncommon for apartments to have central heating, so unless the air-con machine has a heat setting you may need to arrange an electric heater during the colder months should you be living in a colder part of the country. Current teachers will be a valuable source of advice.