International students could either choose to live within the campus or find an apartment outside the school. English listings for rental accommodation/roommates can be found on expat websites, and estate agents are easy to find in China.
There’s not so much differences regarding renting an apartment between China and foreign countries. You have a lot options available, such as renting an entire apartment or one room in a shared apartment, or you can also choose home-stay. But be aware of your budget, it’s almost not possible that you can rent an entire apartment with a very low budget expect you are very familiar with the landlord.
The cost of renting off campus varies considerably depending on the location and condition of the apartment, so check the local listings to get a sense of the prices. In Beijing, international students typically pay around 1500RMB-3000RMB per room per month, excluding bills, though it is possible to find cheaper accommodation. Housing costs in smaller cities are considerably less. Bargaining rental rates is acceptable practice in China.
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A residence permit is the official permit showing that your stay in China is legal.
For X1 visa holders (stay in China more than 180 days) who want to rent an apartment to live outside the campus, you need to:
1) Sign an official paper contract with your landlord.
2) Go to the local authorities with your landlord (who needs to bring his/her original identity card) to apply for a residence permit.
3) You need to file your application for the residence permit within 30 days.
For X2 visa holders (stay in China within 180 days) who want to rent an apartment to live outside the campus, you don’t need to apply for a residence permit; you can simply find an apartment and then live.