Pictured above: The view from my current apartment. Loved the view so much that I forgot a few key elements.
Here’s what you need to know.
▢ Is there any mold? Check every corner, surface and near windows.
▢ Do the windows close tightly and securely? Do they all lock?
▢ Are the walls solid and not rotting anywhere? If you press with some force, they shouldn’t sink in…
▢ Is the paint peeling anywhere? Stick a piece of tape on the wall and see if the paint comes off with it.
▢ Is there a clothing washer and dryer? Most apartments will not have a dryer, so make sure there is a good place to hang dry your clothing.
▢ If your neighbors or roommates smoke, it will waft into your bedroom and your clothes and bedsheets will smell. You’ll also eventually perish from the secondhand smoke.
▢ Where do you get your mail? Is there a mailbox or is it dumped unceremoniously on your doorstep? Are utility bills delivered by mail?
▢ Are there any indications of mice? Look for poop, chewed corners, etc. If this ends up being a problem, I suggest sticky traps. They work like a charm, but the mice will still be alive when you find them and it is a gruesome sight.
▢ Do a basic check of the appliances and make sure all electrical outlets work.
Look out the window:
▢ Where is your closest vegetable market, fruit stand or grocery store?
▢ What is the closest metro stop or bus station?
▢ Are you located near any construction sites? Construction nearby means: potentially noxious fumes drifting into your window, 7am construction times (if they start any earlier, you can call the police to get them to stop)
▢ Are you located near a school? The school is going to play music periodically the entire day.
▢ Are you located near any bars or busy corners? Late at night, especially on the weekends, the street food hawkers will be out in force and people will be drunk and loud.
▢ Does the heater/air conditioner work? Are there any strange smells when you use it? Open it up and inspect it to make sure it is clean.
▢ Is the bed comfortable or will you have to buy an extra mattress pad for it?
▢ Is the previous owner or landlord leaving any furniture for you? Bedrooms should come furnished with a bed and desk at the very least.
▢ Do the windows close with a good seal? In the winter, cold air is going to leak in. To combat this, you can buy sticky foam padding to seal any cracks, or simply tape over the cracks with packing tape.
▢ Are the walls thin? Can you hear your roommates or neighbors breathing?
▢ If the bathroom does not have a fan or windows, it is going to stink. After you shower, the steam will collect and have nowhere to go. The foundation will eventually rot and there will be mold and little winged bugs.
▢ How hot does the water get? Does the hot water last for a long time or does it come sporadically?
▢ Can the toilet flush a big #2? Don’t wait until it is too late to find out…
▢ Does the water drain well, or does it collect in a little pool that takes several minutes to drain?
▢ Is there a kitchen fan for the stovetop? Again, no fan = stinky home.
Signing the lease:
▢ Get a receipt/proof of payment
▢ Take a photo of your landlord’s ID
▢ Make sure you have a native speaker with you to help with any translation issues
▢ Make sure your lease is in Chinese. An English lease won’t hold up in court, this ain’t an English speaking country!!
▢ Are they a douchebag?