Thursday, January 11, 2007

Got my apartment

Everything here seems to require 4 people and a lot of waiting. The average waiting time in a bank is 45 minutes. I finally signed a lease for my apartment today. It required a total of 4 visits to the apartment, one visit to the furniture store (with 3 people in tow: the property manager, the renter’s agent, and the landlord’s agent), and one visit to the electronics store. Even buying a microwave requires speaking with the microwave sales agent, paying for it at the cashier, bringing the receipt back to the sales agent, and scheduling delivery by another person at a later date. Labor is cheap, but that’s no excuse for the lack of any sort of productivity.

As I mentioned earlier, the primary accomplishment of the day was to get an apartment and sign a lease. The lease agreement was filled out by hand in triplicate. Anybody heard of a copier? But I signed it, and paid five months worth of rent at the same time. Two months for the deposit, and three months of rent (I prepaid to negotiate for a lower monthly rate). Did I mention it was all in cash? Checks are not popular in China. I have to walk around with a gangster roll in my pocket if I want to buy anything substantive. This is also due to the fact that no bills larger than 100 RMB ($12.50) seem to exist in circulation. Banks provide little bags for your convenience of transporting upwards of 10-20k RMB at once. So, I paid my rent the first time in cash. Next time? Simple: I walk to my bank, withdraw my money, walk out with my thief-attracting takeout bag of bills to the bank where my landlord has an account. Then I deposit that cash in her account. My deposit slip is my receipt.

However, I am pleased with the apartment’s location. A little bit away from the central downtown area, it’s still very convenient, right above the metro stop, and cheaper. We’ll see how long it takes for me to get tired of going to the same restaurants and shops.

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