Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Beijing Real Estate Amateurs

About two or so months ago, Veronica and I decided that we wanted to move. Don't get me wrong - we love our current place. It has a great sweeping view of the endless landscape of residential towers that is the area between the 2nd and 3rd ring roads. It's got two large bedrooms, hardwood floors, a gym in the basement and five supermarkets within a 5 minute walk. It even has one of the nicest bathrooms I've seen since I've been in the city. Actually - I have qualms with the toilet - but thats another more graphic story. All things said, I can't really complain.

But that doesn't mean we can't shoot higher. And by higher, I mean - way cooler. There are a lot of fun areas of the city. WuDaoKou (五道口) is like college town. Wudaokou can be identified by its crowds of westerners and koreans, its rotating supply of good places to eat and drink as well as its inventory of slightly jacked up prices for apartments. Veronica studied near there and many of her friends lived there, so after spending a bunch of time visiting, we realized it wasn't for us. You can get to WuDaoKou via line 13 of the metro - but its a bit of a hike. One bright spot is that it isn't far from Zhongguancun (中关村), the bargain priced electronics market I stop by whenever I need a memory card or a computer accessory.

Also in the category of 'not-gonna-do-it' is SanLiTun (三里屯). This place really has it all. That is, if you want to live in America. Western chains, nightclubs, bars, stores and plenty of Chinese that speak English. While pretty much every expat or student makes there way here a fair amount - I don't think I'd actually want to live here.

Another popular area is DongZhiMen (东直门). I like DongZhiMen fine. We've got a bunch of friends that live there, probably because the carpools and buses to ultimate pickup leave from the subway station there. Apartments can be more upscale and there are some large malls and food courts as well. Its like a baby Central Business District in the north east corner of central Beijing. We heavily considered DZM.

We settled on Andingmen (安定门). This neighborhood is close to historic sites, a subway station, plenty of great, inexpensive restaurants and is fast becoming the best brunch spot in town. Cafes that actually serve good coffee are springing and cute boutiques are opening that are frequented by hip Chinese and by younger foreigners. I don't want to hype the neighborhood up too much because we're very much on the tail end of its development. I'm sure that by next week all the cool people will have moved out.

I'll be posting again soon to tell you about the fiasco we went through while looking for an apartment. I can't just yet because we are signing the lease tomorrow night and I don't want to curse myself.