Accommodation in Dalian

housing in Dalian
Updated 2022-09-24 21:50

Dalian is the biggest city in Liaoning province. The city is home to over six million people, many of which are students: both residents and foreign visitors. Dalian is often called the City of Students because of its high concentration of colleges and universities and its large student population.

As Dalian is a university city, you will find a lot of competition regarding cheap accommodation. Studios and apartments close to colleges and universities in Dalian are particularly popular with local and expat students.

Which are the best neighborhoods for expats in Dalian?

Dalian covers an area of over 13,000 square kilometers and is divided into eight main districts and three sub-cities. The city's prominent central neighborhoods include Zhongshan, Xigang, Shahekou, and Ganjingzi.

Zhongshan is Dalian's central district, the city's cultural and commercial center. Here, you will find high office buildings, large Russian-style squares, shopping malls and dining areas. There is a bit of nature as well and two scenic beaches: Bangchuidao Beach and Tiger Beach.

Xigang takes on more of an administrative role. Here, you will find People's Square, the building of the municipal government, and other official buildings.

Shahekou is Dalian's main residential area. There is a high concentration of universities in the district as well, so you are sure to see a lot of students here. The neighborhood offers a nice selection of amenities: inexpensive eateries, coffee shops, transportation, etc.

Ganjingzi is the largest of the city's districts, home to Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport, Heishijiao University, and high-tech and industrial areas. Few expats live in this area, but if you would like to consider renting in Ganjingzi, you will benefit from lower rent prices.

What types of accommodation are available in Dalian?

You will find all the regular types of accommodation in Dalian, with an emphasis on student housing: dormitories, studios, etc. You will also find regular-sized apartments, townhouses, villas, etc. There are both Chinese and Western-style apartments in the city, and you should have no problem finding an option that fits your requirements and budget.

There are several things you need to be ready for in a Chinese apartment in Dalian. First, if you rent an apartment in an older building, your place will most likely have a squat toilet. This is something that may take some adjustment.

Chinese apartments generally have rather small rooms. The kitchen area is also quite miniature. Most kitchens in China won't have an oven or a dishwasher. Most apartments are equipped with gas, but in some cases, you may need to use an electric cooker. You won't find bathtubs in most apartments in Dalian unless you are renting something very expensive. Most apartments 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.

Your choice of a place will mainly depend on your budget and the length of your stay in the city. If you are staying in Dalian 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 in Dalian — follow local forums to find apart-mates or those renting out a room.

Rent prices in Dalian

Rent in Dalian is not exactly cheap as there is a lot of demand from local and international students. However, this also means that you will be able to find more economical options in the form of apartment sharing. A two-bedroom place in a central neighborhood in Dalian can cost upwards of 4,500 yuan, and the prices will go down as you move further towards the suburbs. You can rent a simple studio in a good neighborhood for about 2,000 yuan or choose to share a place with apartment mates to cut costs down further.

How to pay utility bills in Dalian

Utilities in China generally work on a pre-paid basis. You will need to use a special

rechargeable card to top off your balance at a utility meter, bank and other locations. 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 difficult to replace.

If you find this system to be confusing, you may also be able to arrange an agreement with your landlord: they will pay for utilities on your behalf, and your utility bill will be added to your monthly rent.

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 and have trouble navigating the local system.

How to find accommodation in Dalian?

You can start your apartment hunt in Dalian online. As this is a student city, you will find lots of accommodation options online. Check out websites like Anjuke,,, etc. It's also a good idea to check expat forums in Dalian. Since there are a lot of international students in the city, you may find lots of options for shared accommodation. Dalian Expats and other groups might also be helpful.

Most apartment ads will tell you 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 through 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 Dalian.

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 Dalian, don't speak Chinese, and are not yet familiar with how things work in the 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 Dalian

You will need to pay attention to several things when signing the lease agreement in Dalian. While most lease agreements are quite standard, especially if you are working with a real estate agency, it's still important to take due precautions and ensure you know what you are signing. You should be perfectly aware of the conditions of your lease as well as your rights as a tenant:

  • 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 make sure that the original translation is accurate.
  • If you are new to Dalian, 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-speaking colleague or 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, decorations, and more. Make sure to give the apartment a proper walk-through and check if all the items on the list are there. If you notice that anything is 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. This way, you will avoid future misunderstandings if the landlord accuses you of having caused the damage.
  • You will most likely be asked to pay a two-month deposit when you rent an apartment. If you rent a place via a real estate agent, you will also need to pay the agent's fee, which usually amounts to half 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.
  • Keep the contacts of your real estate agent. In case you encounter any dispute with your landlord, you can turn to them for help and ask them to act as a mediator to resolve the problem. In most cases, this will be much easier to manage a rent conflict than calling the local authorities.

Overall, renting an apartment in Dalian shouldn't be particularly complicated. Dalian is a popular student town, and you will find a lot of fellow expats here who can give you advice on accommodation rent. With a high-speed train, you can travel from Dalian to Beijing in about five hours. This gives you the option of exploring life in the country's capital while still benefiting from Dalian's cheaper rent and living costs.

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