Moving across the river

I’m moving to Zhangjiang (张江) in Pudong soon, across the river — so I’m looking for a new apartment. Loads of different options but I’ll share three very different ones.

The first apartment I looked at is also the cheapest. You also see a lot of these self-built (自建) houses in rural areas in Shanghai and surrounding provinces. It’s actually insane you can work in a high-tech company and live in a place like this one kilometer from the office.

I love the idea of living in a place like this — maybe I can even get a patch of land. But the reality isn’t as romantic. Some people warn me that a lot of poor 外地人 (outsiders) live here: “But I’m a 外地人 as well?” I say: “Yeah but you won’t steal stuff.”

There’s some noise from the nearby highway, there are some stray dogs, and I’m warned that there are a lot of people with food stalls that’ll leave early in the morning (with lots of noise).

Rent: 2100 RMB (but can be talked down, says the lady). But it doesn’t matter. The apartment smells of fresh paint, which makes this a non-option because I heard the story of Dajiu (大舅) and his wife.

The second batch of apartments is further from the office, but still within cycling distance. A lot of them are simply apartments redesigned to accommodate three or four families living together, but each with its own bathroom, sometimes an independent kitchen as well.

The rent is between 2500 to 3000 RMB for a room, or +6000 RMB for the whole apartment. The older compounds look cozy and lively, but the apartments and staircases are 老破旧. The nicer apartments are in lifeless xiaoqu’s, with highrise buildings for people who had to relocate (拆迁). Again, these apartments come with a glue or paint-like after-scent.

The last type of apartments are serviced apartments at 100 meters from the office, for 2500 RMB (no window ) up to +4000 RMB per month.

(I guess people who design bathrooms with transparent glass walls never have visitors.)

There are shared spaces such as a tiny gym, living room, and kitchen, and the lady says it’s always silent here because the renters are all highly educated (学历很高).

Whatever it’ll be, I’m really happy to be leaving my current apartment, because I spend the sixty stressful days of the lockdown here — and that impression still lingers here more than anything.