It is hard picking out an apartment. A commitment. Although not like buying an apartment but it is 1 year at min and what if it is not in a good area, convenient to work, etc. Todd had a chance to see some apartments with me but we didn’t decide on one, so I had to find one, all by myself. It is weird making this decision on my own, without Todd, for he gets to live in the decision I make, wait until he sees the pink comforter. I had 3 agents assisting me with apartments. I feel bad having more then 1, I am a loyal person, however it was hard to get what I was looking for so I felt it was in my best interest to see what others could find around town, there are so many apartments!
It is interesting… my agent I am working with, maybe he is an independent contractor, I don’ t know for some complexes we went to, his “friend” came along as well. Maybe this was the showing/listing agent and my agent is the one with the lead? I have no idea, but it usually involved more than 1 person that we would meet and sometimes we would meet a representative of the owner or the actual owner at the apartment. There were times we went into an apartment that was still occupied. Current tenants were there or at least their stuff. Times we had to take off shoes, wear booties like Drs wear, or keep them on. An interesting experience.
With only 1 week left in the hotel, I found one! It is in Luwan, 15 minutes walk to Xintiandi and the office. It is also steps away from an E-Mart, a South Korean version of Wal-Mart. Sells everything, E stands for Excellent! It is on the 36th floor of a high rise, apartment in the Sky-y-y-y. We rode the elevator to the 36th floor and the other agent (not mine) forgot the key. So he had to go back down, while we waited, we looked out a window in the hallway it faced the Hungpu River with a great view of the Pearl Tower, Jin Mao Tower, and the Financial Center. These buildings for some reason I love, they mean Shanghai to me, I guess they are like the Statue of Liberty, a WOW when you see them. I said to my agent, if the apartment had a view like this, I would take it. He said no it doesn’t have that view. Many apartments face, I believe South(??) for Feng Shui reasons. When showing apartments, it is often pointed out the directions. Being directionally impaired, I really didn’t pay attention. I have no idea what direction the river is but here is the view from the apartment’s living room/balcony, it is the same. Maybe he didn’t understand me when I talked about the view? Very possible.
Signing of the lease was an experience. We go to this leasing office, that had long desks, with 3 people to a desk, set up like you see in a telethon. These must be the lead takers..I really don’t know, in my mind this is what they are. We go to this little conference room, they have bottled ice tea for us and there is the owner, her agent, and I am there with mine. We sit down and then the discussion starts, in Chinese of course. The owner, in my mind again and I believe true is the female version of Donald Trump in Shanghai. She is very wealth (my agent tells me) and owns many apartments throughout the city. Here is a photo of my landlady.. she is a VIP (her shirt says so). I don’t know her name in Chinese or if she has an English name so I will call her The Donald. The lease, is handwritten and they had to write 3 copies. That is what took so long.. Check out how the Lease is with Rebecca. No last name or anything, just Rebecca. In China, I am like Cher and Madonna.
The apartment didn’t have a sofa in it or a mattress. The rest of the furniture is good. It is 2 bathrooms, bedrooms, one bedroom is set up like a study with a large desk, it has a washer and dryer (most places only offer a washer). It has a fridge/freezer, 2 gas burners, and a dish sanitizer, looks like an oven but it is not. There is no oven or dishwasher, very common in China. However, I did negotiate a microwave/convection oven combo, which she said for me to pick out, give her the receipt and she will deduct from the rent. I need to have frozen pizza and egg rolls! As for the missing furniture, I was able to some how negotiate a shopping trip to IKEA! I was able to select my sofa, I got one with a pull out bed for all my visitors (who is 1st?!?), I got a rug, coffee table, side table, and new curtains in the living room and bedroom. All 4 of us went like a family. But before we went to IKEA, we went to the gym on-site to get my membership (negotiated that to be included) and had to go to the bank to get money to pay her.
I had a tour of the gym, which is good size, indoor swimming pool (swimming is big for exercise), a spinning room, aerobic, and hot and cold yoga rooms. I think her agent quoted her the wrong price for the gym membership for they asked me if I needed the yoga classes and the pool. I of course said YES. I may never use them but I want them, just in case I need to do some hot yoga (it has heaters all along the wall, doesn’t sound very comfortable…) I think it may be like the sweat lodges in the Secret, takes you to some special place.
Rent & Bank
It is common here to pay your rent up front for 3 months and 1 month security deposit. GULP! I finally got paid today, but it is a partial month… I only had enough for 2 months of rent and the security, that is 36000RMB ($5,373-GULP!), she accepted, the Donald is very nice… On the way to IKEA, we stop at the bank. At the bank, I pull my deli ticket and there are 45 folks in front of me 🙂 They won’t have any of this.. so my agent came up with a plan for me to transfer money to his bank account (oh the ATM machines do that here, strange.. very strange..) and I will take out some cash and he will take out what I transferred to him in cash and combined will make up what I owe The Donald. Sounds confusing and shady, why yes it feels that way too, but in my mind again, I only got paid a partial month salary so what is the worst that can happen, they can wipe that out, at least it is not 3 years worth of savings… I go to the ATM an take out money but remember I am to pretty to do math and here you are dealing with 100s and there are so many zeros for what I owe her and need to withdraw that I didn’t take out enough. So my agent has to help me. Here is the piles of cash, we got out of the ATM that I paid her. On the way to IKEA, I count it, again, too pretty, that is my excuse… I swear I was only 100 off. We are now in the IKEA underground parking garage and she is counting it and there is discussion in Chinese… I don’t think it is right… but they aren’t telling me, just chatter, chatter in Chinese, then her agent counts it, then my agent counts it, like 3x… and it is piled on the dash of his car and people are walking by looking, I am short 2500RMB ($373). JMJ!!! I still didn’t take enough money out of the ATM. This is how great my agent is, he spotted me the money! The Donald is on her cell chatting away, I am sure telling the story.. hopefully she adds the part of how pretty I am.
IKEA is like any IKEA, they even sell the meatballs! For IKEA fans, who know the LACK table which is very inexpensive in the US, it is even cheaper here, coming in at $5.82. The Donald, I don’t think this is her scene… she would have the agent boys talk to the IKEA employees, it was pretty awesome. I think also the prices shocked her. The warehouse, pick up your own goods, they had no idea, I showed them how to work the IKEA. I The sofa will be delivered to the apartment in 2 days. I think they will deliver all your purchases. Good to know.. for I need to get dishes and other stuff and hauling on the metro is not happening and a cab, will be too small! Then again.. I didn’t get 4 large suitcases in a cab trunk and Todd when we arrived… hmmm…. may have to think about it.
The whole lease singing, bank fiasco, IKEA trip, took 6 hours. 🙂 At the end of the day, back at the apartment, had to bring the curtains to the handyman in the apt. to hang them, the Donald invited me to her Villa in Pudong, when Todd is here (Come on Todd!). She told me (through my agent/interpreter) she has orchards where we can pick fruit and gardens. I am picturing Versailles. Then… something about wild, fresh chickens.. I am going to just let the image of the fresh chickens fade away… and think about the gardens and fruit trees. I am hoping it is not like a seafood place where you pick your lobster.. My agent said she likes me and it is a great honor to be invited to her house. I really think she just wants to show me off to her friends, the crazy girl who can’t count, use an ATM, and likes cheap furniture.
I will post some photos of the actual apartment inside soon!