Accommodation in Chongqing

Updated 2022-09-24 21:59

Chongqing is an important city in southwest China. It is home to over 30 million people and is considered to be the largest city by size in the whole country, covering an area of over 82,000 square kilometers.

Despite its large size and substantial population, Chongqing is not especially famous among expats — and this means that you will be able to benefit from lower rent prices and less competition in the job market.

Why relocate to Chongqing?

Chongqing isn't a particularly popular destination in China. And this comes with its own set of drawbacks and advantages.

Chongqing is located in southwestern China, at the crossing of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers. It's a large city of over 30 million people. Prior to the pandemic, there was a substantial expat community in Chongqing. Most expats living here were employed in the English teaching sector. However, with a lot of English schools in the area closing, a number of foreigners left Chongqing and have been unable to return since.

However, English teaching is not the only industry where foreigners in Chongqing can find employment. There are several international companies in the city, such as Deloitte and IBM, and lots of local tech companies, such as Anker, are often eager to hire expats in a variety of roles.

The one thing to be aware of about Chongqing is the city's climate. The summers in Chongqing are sweltering and humid, and the winters are damp and hazy. Plus, the weather tends to be rather unpredictable. In 2019, the climate in Chongqing was labeled as “unsafe for sensitive groups” because of regular above-average pollution levels.

Which are the best neighborhoods for expats in Chongqing?

Chongqing is a sprawling city with plenty of sub-divisions within the city. However, the city's central urban area is comprised of only nine districts: Yuzhong, Jiangbei, Shapingba, Jiulongpo, Nan'an, Dadukou, Banan, Yubei, and Beibei.

Located on the peninsula in the center of the city, Yuzhong is the most densely populated district in Chongqing. It is also the hub for all commercial and leisure activity in the city, where you can find the headquarters of international companies, large shopping malls, entertainment facilities, and more.

Jiangbei is one of the most modern districts in the city and is still undergoing construction and renovation. Here, you will find glassy skyscrapers and offices of China's leading companies like Alibaba and Taiwan Blue Sky. This is a primary business area, and there are not too many residential neighborhoods around.

Nan'an, on the other hand, though located in the city center, offers plenty of accommodation options and green areas — and is often the preferred residential neighborhood for expats and locals alike.

Rent prices in Chongqing

Rent prices in Chongqing are relatively lower compared to other big cities in China. You can rent a small studio remote from the city center for as little as RMB 1,500. A two-bedroom apartment can cost anywhere from RMB 2,500 to 5,000, depending on the location and size.

What types of accommodation are available in Chongqing?

There is no shortage of accommodation options in Chongqing: you have a choice of studios, apartments, individual houses, and more. With that, most residents prefer to live in standard apartment buildings. Most apartments come fully furnished and equipped with everything needed for a comfortable life. Note that the design of Chinese-style apartments is different from those popular in Western countries — here, you will find smaller rooms, hardwood furniture, and, most often, squat toilets.

You might as well consider renting a studio, a larger apartment, a villa, or a townhouse. While the city has no shortage of newly-built modern high-rise residential complexes, there are also many older traditional buildings. These may be more interesting to live in if you want to dive fully into the local culture — but you should be aware of potential maintenance issues and other specifics of traditional Chinese housing.

Most apartments in China are equipped with gas — but in some cases, you may need to use an electric cooker. Plus, in most apartments in Chongqing, you won't find a bathtub — unless you are willing to pay for the privilege. A lot of apartments in Chongqing come with balconies. However, balconies can be quite small, and most families in China use them for drying clothes and storage rather than as a place to enjoy the views from.

Some expats in Chongqing live in gated communities, also referred to as “gardens”. Here, you will also find conveniences such as gyms, pools, cafes, childcare facilities and more. As Chongqing is a mountainous city with very picturesque landscapes, some people may also consider settling in scenic areas on the edges of the city.

Where you decide to settle will probably be guided by your budget, lifestyle, and the length of your stay in the city. If you are staying in Chongqing for a short time, you can opt for a hotel or an "aparthotel", or even a vacation home. If you plan to stay longer, you can rent a studio, an apartment, or a villa according to your financial means and your family situation. Sharing an apartment is also popular among expats — follow local forums to find apart-mates or those renting out a room.

How to pay utility bills in Chongqing?

Utilities in China generally work on a pre-paid basis. To pay your utility bills, you

will need to use a special card that you can top up at a utility meter, bank, and other locations across the city. You can check with your landlord about the nearest locations to pay your utilities. Make sure not to lose your utility cards, as these can be quite a hassle to replace.

If you find this system to be confusing, especially during your first months in China, it may be best to try to work out some kind of arrangement with your landlord. For instance, you may ask to have your utilities added to your monthly rent, with your landlord making the actual utility payments.

If you live in a gated residential community with a management office or concierge, you may also be able to pay your utilities there. This will make things much easier, especially if you are new to China. These types of residential complexes are popular with foreigners — so you may also have fellow expats in the neighborhood to ask for guidance.

How to find accommodation in Chongqing?

You can start your apartment hunt in Chongqing online. This will provide you with a good “feel” of the real estate market, what's on offer, what you can afford, etc. Check out websites like Anjuke, Zu Fang, among others. You can also check out expat groups such as Expat Family in Chongqing.

Most apartment offers online will indicate how big the apartment is, where it is located, rent conditions (deposit amount) and whether the ad has been posted by a real estate agent or the owner. If you are interested in taking a look at the place, message the post's author with your contact details. In China, the most popular way to communicate online is by using the WeChat app. The app has over 900 million users and is the number one tool you will need for your everyday life in China. WeChat is primarily a messenger app — but you can also use it for shopping online, paying for goods and services via the QR code, and more.

Once you get in touch with a real estate agent or your potential new landlord, they will probably ask you for your WeChat ID. This is why it's a good idea to download the app and learn how to use it before you start your apartment hunt in Chongqing.

Another way to look for apartments in the city is by visiting different districts and neighborhoods. Once you've found the location you like, you should easily find a real estate agency office nearby. The agency will probably specialize in the accommodation offers in the area, so you will have a better chance of renting an apartment in the area you prefer. If you're looking to rent in gated residential communities, you may also ask the “baoan” (security guard) for any available rentals. The baoan can put you in touch with landlords renting out apartments in the complex.


Renting accommodation directly from the landlord will help you avoid extra costs such as the agent's finders fee. However, if you're new to Chongqing, don't speak Chinese, and are not yet familiar with how things work in the local housing market, it will be in your best interest to rent an apartment through a real estate agent. This way, you will have someone experienced representing your interests. Plus, in case of a dispute with your landlord, you will be able to turn to your real estate agent to help resolve it.

Lease agreements in Chongqing

There are several things you will need to pay attention to when signing the lease agreement.

  • Most rental agreements are written in Chinese. Some will have a shorter English version attached or a translation line under each line in Chinese. If your rental agreement is written entirely in Chinese, get a translator to provide you with an English copy. Never sign any contract in Chinese if you don't understand the meaning of every clause. Even if your contract comes with an English translation, it may be best to have a translator give it another look just to ensure that the original translation is accurate.
  • If you are new to Chongqing, it's best to have a Chinese friend or colleague present when you sign the lease. This way, you will be able to efficiently address any issues that may come up during the signing. Your Chinese friend will also have a better understanding of what to look out for when signing the lease.
  • When you sign the rental agreement in China, there will be an inventory of all the items in the apartment attached to the contract. This includes furniture items, household appliances, apartment decorations, etc. It's important that you give the apartment a proper walk-through and check whether all the items listed are there. If you notice that there is anything missing, let the landlord or the real estate agent know. This is the best way to avoid any future disputes with the landlord when you have to move out.
  • Make sure to check the apartment for any damage or wear. If you notice any anomalies, it's a good idea to take a picture of them and show them to the landlord or real estate agent before signing the lease.
  • Note that in most cases, you will be asked to pay a two-month deposit upfront when you rent an apartment. If you are renting a place via a real estate agent, you will also need to pay the agent's fee, which normally amounts to half of a month's rent. Make sure to keep your deposit receipts till the end of your lease. You will need them to get your deposit back at the end of your stay.

Useful links:




We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.