Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Reasons Why My New Apartment Is Fantastic

I arrived in Beijing on Sunday morning and holed up in a hostel for a while; three days later, I am already established in my very own room, my rent contract and temporary residency permit in hand. This is mostly thanks to Xiao Qin, a friend from Minzu (the university) to whom I just happen to have taught a few informal English classes and who just happens to be one of the very few university students left on campus. (Winter break started last week; the New Year is on Feb. 2.) She went with me to a residential area, called the numbers listed on ads hung from tenants' balconies, looked at 10 or so rooms with me, bargained landowners to the ground, gave me renting advice, made sure the contract was accurate and complete, and set up the visit to the police station for my registration. Not only that, but Xiao Qin has also found a pretty well-qualified graduate student to tutor me for more hours than I had expected my budget to cover. Basically, she's an angel, but on to the apartment and the title of this post:

  1. Size: A bed, two small desks, and a bit of space to put things. Smaller than most (all?) Yale dorms, but just big enough for my needs without having to pay extra for space I won't use.
  2. Has a balcony (good for hanging clothes), which I only share with one other person.
  3. Faces south. This is going to be key during the winter... and I'll be out of here in early June, so I'm not worried about getting cooked alive.
  4. Mattress, sheet, blanket, small table, desk, and super-ghetto TV all included.
  5. Water filter/boiler and washing machine just down the hall.
  6. Rent: ~$160/mo, including water, electricity, and high-speed internet. (Holy guacamole, I can even connect to Yale's VPN and watch YouTube! I thought I'd never see the day in this country.)
  7. Fourth floor, reasonably clean, and 24-hour hot water for the shower. (I've been in this country long enough to appreciate this.)
  8. Chinese flatmates! Probably most of them students or young professionals. I won't be meeting them all very soon - as I mentioned, it's winter vacation and the new year is coming up, so a lot of folks have gone home.
  9. The landlord is middle-aged and abrasive but seems honest, and lives with his wife and granddaughter just a few units away.
  10. I've saved the best for last: location. Absolutely incomparable. A few walking distances for your reading pleasure: 5 minutes from the bus station, 8 minutes from the gates of Minzu and my friends there (mostly Minzu students, but also Yale's very own Joy), 2 minutes from the supermarket, 2-6 minutes from a ton of good restaurants, 3 minutes from a vegetable/fruit/nuts/etc market, 10 minutes from where I'll hopefully be working on the weekends, 15 minutes from a good friend's house, 15 minutes (well, two bus stops; it's cold outside!) from the largest library in China.

The place isn't without its flaws (notably: no kitchen, shared bathroom, thin walls), but all in all I'm feeling pretty victorious. Also, I expect that I'll sleep easier knowing that all of the forms are out of the way. I will have to renew my visa and my resident permit twice each over the next few months, but now that I have my foot in the door I don't expect to be rejected.

Now for a celebratory feast.


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