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WAB Learns

Newbies: Housing

A guide for teachers and their families new to WAB / Beijing

General

WAB will arrange and prepare basic housing for new overseas hire teachers in serviced apartments - either 1, 2 or 3-bedroom units according to your family size. The location is yet to be finalized, but it will likely be a serviced apartment building, (last year it was - Jiu Xian Gong Yu, near 798 art district) which means that it would provide the following basics:
• Furniture – table, chairs, beds and wardrobes, sofas, etc.
• Appliances – telephone, cooking stove, oven, microwave, washing machine, TV, refrigerator, etc.
• Utensils – cooking utensils and dinner ware for at least the number of people occupying

It is likely that this pre-arranged accommodation will be fixed for a period of two months (until the end of September), with an option to extend for one additional month. Moving out before the lease expires will incur a penalty (paying until the end of two months at your personal expense). After the
fixed term, you may choose to move out or stay in. However, in our personal experience as long as you advise the school IN ADVANCE that you require a shorter period (i.e. your lease goes in earlier, or you're staying with friends etc.) you won't incur the penalty.  

Outside of serviced apartments arranged by WAB, most privately owned rented properties are furnished with basic furniture (wardrobes, tables,
chairs and beds) as well as electrical appliances (like refrigerators and washing machines). These can be in a varying state of repair and landlords are often reluctant to remove or store them. Make sure you explicitly discuss what you want to keep / not keep before you sign a lease.

You will need to bring or obtain your own supply of kitchen utensils, dinnerware, bed linens, towels, etc. This is easily purchased at Ikea, Muij, Carrefour etc. 

In order to avoid the peak pricing around August / September, you have one of two options - trying to find something before the summer (from departing staff) and lock in to a lease starting mid August / early September (you'll be camping until your shipment arrives mid/end October); or stay a bit longer in the serviced apartments. 

Whatever you decide, it's a good idea for bonding and logistics to join in with the rest of the Newbies in the serviced apartments at least until school starts. 

North of WAB

Pros:

  • Close to grocery markets, restaurants and shops (Jennie Lu, LionMart, Europlaza, Pinnacle Plaza, Shine City)
  • Near the Wenyu River for walking and running
  • Close to the Airport
  • About 20-30 minutes from school
  • Leafy, possibility of a garden
  • Peaceful and quiet
  • Good for families
  • Children's playgroups & playgrounds for young children

Cons:

  • Far from town / nightlife
  • Large variation in rental depending on landlord and time of signing lease
  • Houses are relatively old and not always well maintained / renovated
  • no staff bus so you’ll need to take a bus/use Didi/Taxi
  • Far from the Metro (about 5km)

Pros:

  • Family friendly
  • Safe 
  • Lots of organised activities (Easter / Halloween)
  • Small backyard
  • Centrally located
  • Nice clubhouse with spa, gym, two swimming pools (indoor & outdoor) - need to join separately.

Cons:

  • A bit more expensive than Capital Paradise so need couples housing allowance
  • Older and dated so some need renovation
  • Individual landlords

Agent recommended by Nadine Bailey: Jennie WeChat ID: jenniezzz

Lido

Pros:

  • Lots to grocery markets, restaurants, cafes, bars shops and the Indigo Mall. 
  • Near to school. Public buses 988 takes around 15-20 minutes to go from Lido to school and it costs only 1 RMB. 
  • Next to the 798 Art District and only 10-15 minutes taxi ride to Sanlitun. 
  • Close Metro station. Jinagtai is on line 14 and the services are regular and reliable. Although sometimes a little cosy. 

Cons:

  • Busy area so not quiet. 
  • Large variation in rental depending on landlord and time of signing lease. August is a very busy month as you are competing with a lot of other expats and University graduates as they a lot of these people are moving to Beijing around this time. Be patient and worth holding on until September if necessary

Recommended by Grant Clark: this property agent in Lido, she was honest and very helpful.  Alin, WeChat ID: baoling5085

Sanlitun Area

Pros:

  • Lots of WAB teachers live there
  • Large apartments
  • Off the street (not noisy)
  • 2/3/4 bedroom apartments
  • Have ovens
  • Right behind April Gourmet
  • Close to malls and other restaurants
  • Lots of kids

Cons:

  • Hard to get into (waiting list)
  • 20 minutes from school (but don't leave too late)
  • Try to get into Building 7, so you don't have individual landlords

Sanyuanqiao (Phoenix City)

Good for kids.  2 playgrounds and a pool.  Rent varies from 12-30k depending on which phase and how many bedrooms.  Metro line is right beside the complex so its about 15-20 mins to Maquanying (metro closest to WAB - about 3km away)

Sharon Gibbons recommends: Phoenix City, WeChat ID: Tracy-CR and/or WeChat ID: peterxhf. They speak English well and are very helpful

Near WAB

Pros:

  • Close to school (no travel issues)
  • Reasonably priced (cheaper than other alternatives)
  • Apartments are relatively new and modern
  • Spacious rooms
  • Good WeChat community to help each other out
  • Close to Jenny Wang and Didi's / Beijing Riveira coffee shops

Cons:

  • Payment and financing requires careful discussion with PengDi / HR to make it work
  • Utilities more expensive and only checked irregularly so payments can be a surprise.
  • No ovens (but you have a sterilizer - lol ; )
  • Some apartments are North Facing with tinted windows making them dark
  • No outdoor space for kids (but close to school's facilities)
  • Close to school!

Beijing Riviera
Pros:

  • Close to school – about 3 km
  • Can easily ride a bike to school
  • School bus to go to school leaves around 8 am
  • Easy access to Airport Express to go both towards the city and the airport (about 30 minutes to Sanlitun depending on traffic)
  • Great for families (inside and outdoor playgrounds)
  • Nice clubhouse with indoor heated pool / outdoor pool / gym / bar / restaurants
  •  BJ Riviera has a small foreign foods supermarket as well as a Jamaica Blue cafe inside the clubhouse 

Cons:

  • Rent is really expensive. Family allowance isn’t enough to rent a house and all you’ll most likely be able to afford is a two bedroom apartment.
  • You might bump into many kids and parents

Recommendation from Ludivine Kennedy: WeChat ID for realtor for Beijing Riviera : Sunny338898

HeGeZhuang Village

The village is 3km from WAB.  Its a much more local area to live than a gated community, that's for sure.  It's home to a diverse group, with a mixture of expats (including several teachers/families from WAB and Harrow International School which is next door, businessmen, Art Curators etc.), Chinese migrant workers, local Beijing ren and many stray dogs living in the area. 

Accommodation styles vary in Hegezhuang.  There are one bedroom shacks used by the migrant workers, 2-3Bedroom two-story apartments with shared hallways, courtyards etc (around 10-15k per month) and large renovated, private courtyard style homes (costing about 25k++ per month).  

Pros:

  • There are some Art museums and studios in the area, as well as an equestrian centre, some small bars and The orchard Restaurant down the road. 
  • Line 15 Maquanying metro is about 800m away and there's an 'outlet' mall with a starbucks, pizza hut, KFC and many shops - though they aren't heavily discounted like 'outlets' are in other parts of the world.  There's also a few bus lines next to the mall, which can take you to different parts of Beijing very cheaply.
  • Hegezhuang has a school bus departing 7:50am out the front of The Orchard Restaurant
  • At night, it is a very quiet place to be.  The locals are friendly enough 
  • You can't beat the convenience of being around the corner from WAB and all its facilities, especially if you have kids.  

Cons:

  • There is constant change in the area, as the village undergoes 'beautification' and 'modernisation'. This includes demolition, dust, some noise, limited access in and out, some water and electricity outages etc. 
  • you do need to watch your step to avoid blobs of spit or dog droppings.

  • Like other places the 'Beijing stink' is also common, which is caused from dodgy plumbing and pipes.

  • There aren't that many green places for little kids to play and the expat kids don't really socialise that much together in the village so you'd want to look at a nearby nursery if you had a young kid who likes to be around others during the day.

  • Hegezhuang is a bit of a maze for non-residents at times.  The houses are not numbered chronologically but as they were constructed, so you often need to go out and around, searching for your friends or the delivery guy on their first few visits  - but that just adds a bit more fun to living there

QuanFa Garden

Villas - opposite Beijing Riviera.  Lovely leafy community.  A few teaching couples live there and some WAB families. There is a school bus pickup each day.  Older renovation inside but villas are spacious and have a yard, garage etc so great for families and pets.  Rent approx. 30k+ per month. and places are snapped up quickly.

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