Archive for housing

More Useful Phone Numbers

And here’s another round of public services numbers you may find useful. Here is the link to the original language post.

顺丰快递                          Shun Feng Express Mail                                           400-811-1111
自来水抢修电话        Tap Water Rush Repair                                            6924113
自来水投诉                       Tap Water Complaints                                             96266
煤气抢修电话         Gas (mei qi) Rush Repair                                         4964434
供电局客服                        Power Supply Bureau Service                                  95598
呼市消费者协会           Hohhot Consumer Association                                 5959315
内蒙古消费者协会       Inner Mongolia Consumer Association                        6956315
内蒙古有线电视服务热线    Inner Mongolia Cable Television Service Hotline          6920337
呼市有线电视服务热线     Hohhot Cable Television Service Hotline                     6931939
物价举报中心         Price Reporting Center                                             12358
工商投诉电话                     Industry and Commerce Complaints                         12315
供热投诉热线                     Public Heating Complaint Hotline                              12319
市长热线                           Office of the Mayor Hotline                                       12345
法律咨询                           Legal Advice                                                           12348
内蒙古妇幼保健院急诊室     Inner Mongolia Maternal and Child Health HospitalEmergency Room                                                                                           6968719
内蒙古医院急诊室          Inner Mongolia Hospital Emergency Room                  4962584
中蒙医院急诊室                 Chinese and Mongolian Medicine Hospital                                      Emergency Room                                                      6929974
内蒙古附院急诊室            Inner Mongolia Medical College Affiliated                                      Hospital Emergency Room                                         6963871
呼市纪委、监察局         Hohhot Commission for Discipline Inspection

and Supervision Bureau                                            4606659

火车票订票                         Train Ticket Reservations and Purchases                    12306
车辆违章查询                      Vehicle Inquiries                                                      12580
配钥匙修开锁                      Locksmith                                                                8945110
婚庆                                 Wedding*                                                                0471-5981776/15848151957
搬家                                  Moving Company                                                     6980900
上下水疏通修理/暖气安装/      Plumbing Repair/Heating Installation/Bathroom

卫生间改造                          Remodeling                                                             13847112251

*I’m not sure if this is a wedding planner or to register a marriage or a wedding banquet location

Have Running Water?

You may not for a day. Hohhot’s water division will be stopping service to various areas of the city to repair lines.
Tomorrow (4.17) it will be off near Xing An Road, Dong Ying South Road, Wu Lan Chu Bu Road which is the area around Victory City Mall (mo er cheng), south, and west.

The next date is 4.21 and will affect areas near Hailar Road and Tong Dao North Road.

I’ll translate the next locations are they get closer.


and here’s the update:

Here is the link to the chart in Chinese. I can’t get it to display correctly, but here are the next few dates and locations where water service will be turned off:

4/24 a section in the south of the city west of Xilingol Road and north of the south second ring road

4/25 water turned off along Hailar Road and Genghis Khan Road

4/28 water turned off in a western section of the city near Hailar Road, Tong Dao Road, and north of the south second ring road




cost of living in Hohhot

I ran across this site the other day that compares the cost of living for various world cities. We can help make the Hohhot information more accurate by adding more data. Check out the link, add more Hohhot data, and then compare with your home city or other cities in China!

My only suggestion for improvement for them would be a “N/A” option. It’s funny to me that they assume there is an “expat area” in Hohhot and some items on their list are non-existent or very hard to come by.

the second best use of a ping pong ball


Alternately titled: my husband is a genius.
If you live in a building where your bathroom never stinks, I’m truly happy for you. For the rest of us, you know the stink I mean. I don’t mean an identifiable, reasonable stink…I mean a stink that is wafting from the drain and its source is clearly not anyone residing in your home. I’m clearly no engineer and I can offer no explanation of why, but I (or rather, my brilliant husband) can offer a solution. Brace yourselves, it will set up back a few kuai……it’s a ping pong ball.
Here’s how it works: when you have a smelly drain, the stink can be remedied by placing a ping pong ball in the drain hole. If it works perfectly, it will float up when water needs to go down the drain and fall back in to the hole and make a smell barrier when it falls back in place over the hole. (see picture of our bathroom and ping pong ball usage below) From our experience, it has eliminated about 90% of the odor that used to make that particular bathroom almost unbearable to use. However, it doesn’t always float up and down exactly as planned.
If it’s a drain you rarely use, you can just buy a rubber stopper and plug it completely. I also have faint recollections of an engineer who used to live here who made a stopper than could be opened and closed for stink-stopping purposes. If you know how to do that, leave a comment for the rest of us.
*This post is dedicated to the three wonderful ladies I had lunch with last weekend. That’s right, four foreign ladies had lunch together and discussed bathroom plumbing issues. I hope you all find a solution for your bathroom/kitchen woes.

getting settled-finding a house


The next installment of our “getting settled” series is how to find a house (apartment) to rent. One would think that with the amount of housing complexes being built, finding a house to rent would be easy. However, in my experience that is not the case. Empty apartment does not mean available for rent apartment. (The reasons why there are so many empty apartments deserves its on post). I have lived in China in three different stints, and I’ve found my own place each time. I’ve also assisted a handful of others as they were arriving. I’m by no means an expert, but I’ll share here what I know. If you have other opinions or suggestions, leave them in the comments to help others.

There are four ways I know of to find a place to rent. In my experience all four must be used to find what you’re looking for.
Word of Mouth: You can let friends know you’re looking and see who they know that has a place for rent.
Flyers: Small flyers or notices are often posted on poles or walls near the area where the house for rent is. You can find an area of town you like and look for flyers. With this I will also add that you can ask at a complex’s wu ye zhong xin 物业中心 (management office) but this hasn’t given me good results. They often either don’t know of places to rent or only want to try to sell you vacant properties.
Internet: I have linked to a few of the search engines below where you can search for houses for rent. Some listings are put up by the owner and others by agents. A word of caution: Listings are not always accurate. By this I mean they are often already rented or the details about the property itself may be inaccurate. If a photo is included with the listing it may or may not be a photo of the property listed.
Real Estate Agents: These offices are everywhere. They are called either fang di chan 房地产 or fang wu zhong jie 房屋中介 or some variation of those. They are most often small offices and there seems to be one on nearly every street. I suggest you find one in the area of town you’d like to live in. Even the agents do not have access to all available properties but they are more likely to have listings near their office. They will know the properties their office has listed or they can search on the internet or make calls on your behalf. The standard fee for using an agent seems to be half of one month’s rent and some agencies charge a fee of 30-50 RMB to see a property.

Once you think you’ve found a prospective place, you’ll need to arrange with the owner or agent to see it. I’ve found that it’s much easier to operate on a “Can I see it now?” as opposed to “Can I see it on Tuesday at 3:00?” system.  For those of us from more time-oriented cultures, this process will be frustrating. Landlords (or whoever it is that has the key) will be inevitably be late or not available or something, and it’s easier to know that immediately than to clear your schedule for two days from now and have it fall through.
Some houses will still be occupied by tenants and it doesn’t seem like a big deal to just walk through while they’re there.
Another interesting/strange thing to me as an American is that a few places I have seen or taken others to see is that you wouldn’t have access to the whole property. For example, the listing may be for a three bedroom, but when you get there one bedroom is locked and will remain locked even if you rent it. So, what you’re getting is a two bedroom place. Sometimes it’s a balcony, sometimes a bedroom, or a bathroom, but it seems not uncommon for the landlord to retain a room for his/her own storage.
Don’t expect the houses you see to be clean or “show ready.”

Furnished versus unfurnished: You can find fully furnished, partially furnished, or empty apartments. Some also come with all necessary appliances and others don’t. You’ll need to spell out clearly what you want/expect before you agree on a price and sign a contract. This area is something you can negotiate with the landlord….pay more and have them buy appliances and furniture or pay less and get those things yourself. You’ll want to ask about the hot water situation. If there’s not an installed hot water heater, you probably won’t have hot water. These days most places have an installed hot water heater in the bathroom, but it’s still not common for the kitchen to have hot running water, so if that’s important to you, you’ll need to negotiate for another water heater to be added.

Heating and utilities:  Some landlords will include the heat and wu ye (management) fee in the rent and others will not. This is important in considering the price because depending on the size of the apartment, the presence of an elevator, the size of the grounds, and other factors the total can be 7000-8000 RMB/year. All other utilities are generally the renter’s expense. This area is also something you can negotiate with the landlord.

Prices: Based on my most recent experience helping some friends find a place, I would say that a furnished two bedroom apartment with appliances will be somewhere between 1500-2500 RMB/month and a three bedroom (which is much harder to find) will be about 2500-3200 RMB/month. Prices may be cheaper the farther out of the city center you are.

Signing the contract: If you can’t read Chinese, absolutely take a local friend with you. Make sure you understand the terms, especially for what happens if either party breaks the contract. You’ll also want to save and make copies of the contract. If you have (or want to have) a residence permit, you’ll need a copy of it.
Rent and realtor fees will be due at the time you sign the contract. Most landlords require the rent to be paid for one year. Prices are listed by the month, but payment is expected for a year. Occasionally you may find a landlord who will accept rent in six month increments, but these seem to be more rare recently. You will need to be prepared with the money, which may mean multiple trips to the bank if you have a daily limit on the amount you can withdraw.

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