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Renting requires luck and perseverance

By REN XIAOJIN | China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-03 07:26

Residents pass by a property agency in Shanghai. [Photo by YIN LIQIN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

It's so hard to find the perfect place to live in Beijing, and one mostly needs to rely on pure luck.

That seems to be the common feeling among users of several online house hunting group chats. Every time someone brings it up, there is a heated conversation about how desperate the process can be.

Liu He is one of those people. She has been looking for a new place and new roommates for a month, because her contract ended in August and the agency demanded a much higher rent for the next year.

She summarized a number of the reasons behind her peers' frustration in the group chats.

"Living in a service apartment, there is formaldehyde to worry about; when finding a landlord, it's hard to tell if the contract is legitimate, and in some cases you can be kicked out at anytime," she said. "But proper agency chains charge too much, and demand four or even five months' rent upfront-where could I find the money?"

She joked that she'd better pack up and go home (to Jiangsu province), but it was a sad joke, because living in the capital means so much to her.

"But the good thing is that many people come and go in Beijing every day," she said. "Just like my future Mr. Right, the perfect apartment will eventually show up; I just need to be patient and wait."

Renting is not a long-term solution. Most young workers in different cities want to have their own place and not live in a rented space for life.

Xie Yifeng, a real estate columnist and commentator, gave a straightforward metaphor: "A home of your own is your lifelong lover, but renting a home is like a short affair."

According to a report by Tencent House, the real estate research arm of the internet giant, 75.5 percent of those surveyed did not want to live in a rented place for ever, while 62.2 percent felt they had no alternative, and 12.7 percent were tired of dealing with the issue.

"The frequency directly reflects the stability and security tenants feel about their place," the report said.

"Compared with tenants in other regions, those living in Beijing, Shenzhen (Guangdong province) and Shanghai move more frequently than others. Young people who live in first-tier cities are facing more uncertainty in their lives," it concluded.

Dong Fang, a 27-year-old in Shanghai, felt the same way. Originally from Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, Dong rented an apartment in Shanghai for three years before deciding to buy her own place in China's buzzing financial hub.

"Renting a place is even harder when you have a cat," she said, adding that she never imagined that the animal, whom she bought from a street vendor for 50 yuan ($7.30), would cause her so much trouble.

"Agency apartments usually have a no-pets policy, which means I had a very narrow choice," she said. "I couldn't rent with others because finding a suitable location at a reasonable price along with a pet-friendly landlord and good roommates is like winning a jackpot."

She has spent all her savings on the first down payment for her 40-square-meter apartment, but still lives in a rented space.

"At least I know I have a home now; my days of drifting will soon be over," she said.

With the mortgage to pay, she doesn't know when she will be able to afford to furnish the apartment, and her cat is staying with her mother in her hometown. Despite that, she is optimistic about the future, because a permanent home awaits her.

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