Accommodation in Guangzhou

Updated 2022-09-24 21:29

Guangzhou is a populous city, and the housing supply is as great as the demand. Its population is over 13 million people, including a large number of expats. Finding accommodation in Guangzhou should not be a problem, and there are many options to choose from. Before looking for a place, though, take some time to learn about Guangzhou's neighborhoods.

Which are the best Guangzhou neighborhoods for expats?

Guangzhou is divided into several districts, including Yuexiu, Liwan, Panyu, Haizhu, Tianhe, Huangpu, and Baiyun, among others. Some of these are known to be business districts and industrial areas, while others are considered to be residential neighborhoods.

Tianhe, for instance, is a business and commercial area hosting shopping malls, office buildings and skyscrapers. It may be the best area to settle in Guangzhou for expats who want to plan to work in the city center and avoid commuting from the suburbs. There are also international schools in the area and many western restaurants and bars. Tianhe is one of the busiest districts in Guangzhou, dominated by skyscrapers but diluted with trendy art areas. Tianhe is subdivided into Zhujiang New Town and Liede. Zhujiang New Town is a popular area with many office buildings and upscale shopping. Liede is one of the expats' favorites as it's home to supermarkets specializing in imported goods and quite a few western eateries.

In the city center, Yuexiu and Liwan mainly include places of worship, wholesale markets, and shopping streets. Liwan is particularly popular with expats and tourists thanks to an abundance of sightseeing locations like Liwan Lake Park and Shamian Island. Rent in Liwan is also more affordable compared to other central neighborhoods. Yuexiu is one of the oldest districts in Guangzhou, and accommodation here may be a bit outdated. You will also find luxury townhouses and residential buildings here — especially on Ersha Island. Ersha Island is popular with top-level executives in China and has easy access to some of the best international schools in the city.

If you are looking to move out to the suburbs, consider Panyu, Haizhu, Huadu and Baiyun.

Panyu is a good option if you are looking for a slower pace of life. Panyu is a sprawling tech development zone — but it's also home to city parks, mountains and lakes. This creates a much more relaxing environment compared to busier central districts and makes Panyu a favorable option for families with children.

Haizhu is located south of Tianhe, across the Pearl River. It's an island area that is most popular with expats who can afford pricey accommodation. The area is well-connected to the rest of Guangzhou, cafes, restaurants and shopping areas.

Baiyun is located north of the city center and is mainly known as a developing industrial area. But you will also find many green pockets here, suburban areas, parks, and more. There are also several international schools in the area.

Huadu is located close to Guangzhou Baiyun Airport, which makes it a great option if you plan to travel frequently. Huadu is quite far from the city center but is well-connected to the city via the subway.

What types of accommodation are available in Guangzhou?

You will likely find different accommodation options in Guangzhou, namely apartments, villas, studios, and townhouses. While the city has no shortage of newly-built modern high-rise residential complexes, there is also a great number of old traditional buildings, which some expatriates prefer for their interesting cultural background. With that, one should be aware of potential maintenance issues, the handling of which should be outlined in the contract with your landlord.

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 the city 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 Guangzhou — follow local forums to find apart-mates or those renting out a room.

There are several things you need to be ready for in a Chinese apartment. 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 small. Most kitchens in China won't have an oven or a dishwasher. Apartments are usually equipped with gas, but in some cases, you may need to use an electric cooker. You won't find bathtubs in most apartments in Guangzhou — unless you rent 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.

Rent prices in Guangzhou

How much you pay in rent in Guangzhou depends on the district you live in and the size of your place. Rent prices in central districts like Tianhe are substantially higher compared to the suburbs. Rent for a studio in Tianhe starts at RNB 5,000 at least, but you will most likely pay from RMB 6,000 to 8,000 for a well-furnished one-bedroom apartment. The further you move towards the suburbs, the cheaper accommodation you will find. Studio and one-bedroom rents on the outskirts of the city start at around RMB 3,000. Here, you will also find larger or two-bedroom places for RMB 6,000 to 8,000. Prices for two-bedroom apartments in the city center, on the other hand, start at RMB 8,000. The best way to manage rent expenses in the city would be to consider shared accommodation.

In addition to what you pay in rent, you will also need to factor in additional fees. These may include:

Maintenance fees: Many residential complexes in Guangzhou have maintenance fees. These fees cover security guards' salaries, ground maintenance, landscaping, trash pickup, etc. The fees are typically calculated based on the size of the apartment in square feet.

Utilities: With most rental agreements, utilities are not included in your rent and need to be paid separately. How much you spend depends on how much water and electricity you use per month. Your utility bill in Guangzhou may range from RMB 200 ($30) to RMB 500 ($74) per month.

Parking fees: If you have a vehicle and need a parking space, you will (most likely) need to pay for it separately. If you are renting in a residential complex, your apartment may come with a dedicated parking space.

How to pay utility bills in China?

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 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 Guangzhou?

You can start your apartment hunt in Guangzhou online. Check out websites like ForeignerCN, Anjuke, etc. You can also check expat groups in the city, like Expats in Guangzhou and others, for apartment or room offers.

Most apartment rental 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 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 Guangzhou.

Another way to look for apartments in the city is by visiting different districts and neighborhoods. Once you have 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 China, don't speak Chinese, and are not yet familiar with how things work in the local housing market, renting an apartment through a real estate agent will be in your best interest. This way, you will have someone experienced representing your interests. Besides, 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 Guangzhou

You will need to pay attention to several things when signing the lease agreement in Guangzhou.

  • 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 Guangzhou, 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, appliances, decorations, etc. Make sure to give the apartment a proper walk-through and check whether all the items listed 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.
  • In most cases, you will be asked to pay a two-month deposit upfront when you rent an apartment in China. If you are renting 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, as you will need them to get your deposit back at the end of your stay.

Useful links:




China Daily (classifieds)

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