After arriving in Guangzhou, I have been in contact with several real estate agents and seen quite a few apartments. I ended up renting the first apartment I looked at, since it seemed to meet all of my demands. I’ve arranged to stay here for at least a month. It’s good to have a place to myself now after having to find a new hotel room almost every day, for about 2 months now.
Going around Guangzhou and visiting real estate agencies is a fun experience and like almost everything here, very different from what I’m used to. The agencies that I went to always seemed to have one person who could talk a bit of English but I might just have been lucky with that.
There is really an insane amount of real estate agencies in some areas, sometimes about 5 of them in one little block. They don’t all seem to be making much money though because they will mostly take you around using the metro. One agency went so far as to take me to an apartment by bike. Taking a bike around Guangzhou is not that simple as you will have to use the same road as the cars and taxi’s so it is a bit nerve wracking to do.
The apartment I’m currently at, is about 60m2 in total, has 2 air conditioning systems, a bathroom with shower, 2 queen size beds, a kitchen with equipment, a tv and wifi internet. It’s basically ready to move in and has everything you need. It costs about 4500 RMB per month, which is about 550 euro’s. Doesn’t seem too bad, considering most apartments need a 6 month or 12 month commitment to be able to rent it.
What’s great about this apartment is that it’s in fact just one big room with everything in it. The only separate room is the bathroom. This makes it easier to keep a good temperature, because you can just use the air conditioning system to cool the whole area.
The upstairs area has a desk and is a good place to get some work done on the laptop. The wifi internet is not really fast but that’s common in all Chinese cities. It’s about 10 times slower then in most of the hotels I’ve been staying at in Hong Kong.
The apartment is located nearby a metro station, about a 5 minutes walking distance. This is of course very convenient but because I’m so close to the metro, I can also hear it pass underneath me every 4 minutes or so. I think it will be a matter of time until I don’t even register it anymore.
I’m 2 metro stations away from Zhujiang New Town, which is just across the river from me. This area is considered the city centre and is the business area where all of the building and construction is going on. I can reach it very easily by metro but I’m distant enough, to still be in a quiet area. The part of town I’m at, is a little less ‘westernized’, which makes it possible for me to enjoy both the Chinese culture and the comfort of western oriented shops and restaurants.
Another great thing about my apartment is that it looks out on the Zhujiang New Town area. It has some buildings in the way that block me from seeing the whole of it but I can still see the building tops and the famous Canton Tower. This tower was still being built when I came here a couple of years ago but now makes up an important part of Guangzhou’s skyline.
Because my apartment is on the lower floors of the building I went up to try and get a better view of the city. I got a bit lucky because the door to the rooftop was left open. This gave an even better look of the Guangzhou skyline. Some people were even drying their clothes out there, underneath a little roof.
From my apartment it’s only about a 5 minute walk to an area with many restaurants, shops and a street market. To get there I just need to cross a bridge. There are foreigners living in this area but not so much as in the city center. This is why some people are still looking at me as if I’m an alien from another planet. Some of them completely stop doing what they are doing and stare at me until I’m out of their sight. I’ve even had some Chinese children touching me, to see what I feel like.
They are not used to people that are close to 2 meters in length, that’s for sure. Almost everybody I spoke to here, has said at some point: “Oh my God, you’re so tall!”.
It is still a challenge to find food that I like, around here. Many of the restaurants have a menu with Chinese signs only, extreme spicy food or some hardcore Chinese dishes. I like to stay away from those for now and just find some more foreigner friendly places. I did find some good restaurants that serve terrific food for about 20 RMB (2.50 euro’s) and lower. If I don’t manage to find any decent restaurants I can still always go to the McDonald’s which is also located in this part of town.
I like this area as there are many things going on and a lot of value is being offered for low prices. It also seems to have a kind of institution where people are treated for something I cant figure out yet. All I know is that the patients are wearing striped pyama’s because I’ve seen several of them roaming the streets, guided and unguided.
I’m getting to know my way around the city a bit more, day by day, and there’s still a lot to find out here. I haven’t yet found a place that offers cheap bread but it will be a lot harder to find this here then it was in Hong Kong. Maybe I should just use eat more microwave meals or eat out all day. So far I’m enjoying myself and as I’m renting a great apartment in Guangzhou now, I’m sure I will continue to do so.