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Shanghai is divided into two major parts – Puxi (the west part) and Pudong (the east part) – by its mother Huangpu River.

As with other big cities, Shanghai is also divided into several districts. Downtown area, which consists of five districts, lies in the center of the city.

As an international hub, Shanghai attracts myriads of foreigners every year, contributing to a local housing market boom and adding vitality and business opportunities to the city.

Many newcomers fall in love with the city instantly when they see its tree-lined streets, low-rise European-style architecture and innumerable skyscrapers towering everywhere in the city.

In order for you to make a smooth transition into a wonderful new home there are some important things that you should first consider: your budget, the size of house that would most suit you, whether you want to buy or to rent, whether you want a house or an apartment and which area you would most prefer to reside in.  

It's possible to gather information on properties to rent or buy through mediums such as the Internet, newspapers and magazines.

However, going through these mediums will only give you access to a very limited number of properties because most of the information you need is held by Real Estate Agencies as most landlords with properties like to entrust them to Agencies in order to rent them out sooner. So when looking for the very best property a professional Real Estate Agency is an invaluable resource.

You will no doubt see various Agencies advertising their services in shop windows on many streets, but most of them only specialise in purchasing property and their staff can not speak English. A much better way is to find a professional English speaking agency which specialises in both renting and purchasing. The internet is a good source for finding this kind of agency or contacting an agency through the recommendation of a friend or family member who has used their service and can vouch for them is also a very good option. 

Each agency will publicize information on the properties which they are consigned to rent or sell, to get a good picture of the current market and what's available to you, you try to visit at least 2 or more agencies. You should evaluate the quality of service that each agency can offer you because choosing the best possible agency or just a sub standard agency could mean the difference between having only satisfactory accommodation or finding the house that you have always dreamed of.

It's crucial that your chosen agency completely understands your requirements and can take you to view the house that most matches the house you have envisaged for yourself and/or your family.  

Accompanied by your agent, you can arrange a time to meet each of the landlords and views the propeties you are interested in. When viewing each property try to pay close attention to every detail of the property and be sure to ask every question that comes to mind. Items that require careful attention include decoration, furniture, electronic appliances, pipes, cleanliness, noise levels, availability of a property management office, quality of the house, availability of facilities and conveniences within easy access including supermarkets, parks, schools etc. 

Out of all the houses you view try to choose the two that you like the most and out of those two decide which is your first and which is your second choice. 

Both leasing and purchasing contracts have official recommended versions to which you can add some extra clauses if you wish. Professional Agencies have relevant legal personnel that can advice you on the contract as well.

You may discuss the price and other extra conditions, such as repair, renovation, furniture etc, your Agency will be responsible for helping you to negotiate everything with the landlord and obtaining a good deal for you.

Make sure you are clear on who takes responsibility for tax, bills (power supply, water, gas, and property management fee), repair, renovation etc. 

Only after reaching an agreement on everything with the landlord should sign a contract.

Normally, you should pay the rent for the first month plus two months of rent as a deposit before you move into your new home. You should check carefully that all of the property's facilities are in good working condition before handing over any money.

Remember, whether you buy or rent, the correct registration process at the local police station is still necessary in China, your agency will do this for you.

After moving into your new house, your Agency should offer ongoing after service assistance with solving any problems that you may encounter in your new house.

When arriving in a foreign country please remember that occasionally you may encounter differences in culture, customs and standards and may sometimes require your patience and understanding. Knowing this will ensure that life in Shanghai will not take you by surprise but will instead ensure you a smooth and pleasureable life in this beautiful city.

Finally don't forget to maintain contact with your agent, don't feel hesistant to share your thoughts/concerns with them because understanding your intentions and feelings will really help your agent to give you the best possible service regardless of whatever stage of the buying process you may find yourself in.

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