How to Rent An Apartment in China: Popular Rental Platforms 2020

If you move to a new place, the first thing you’ll need to consider is where to live. Renting an apartment in China is not that hard. There are a variety of online rental platforms providing customized services to both Chinese and foreign tenants.

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Lianjia (链家)

Founded in 2001, Lianjia (链家, otherwise also known as Homelink) is the biggest brokerage giant in China, with more than 8,000 branches and around 150,000 employees in over 28 cities nationwide, including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou.

  • Lianjia adheres to “authentic listings” and “exclusive listings”
  • More than 8,000 branches in 28 cities
  • Free recommendations and real visits with agents

Ziroom (自如)

Born out of Lianjia in 2011, Ziroom is also one of the largest housing rental platforms in China. It has served over 1.4 million tenants and now manages more than 60,000 rooms across nine cities in China. The Ziroom app features long-term rentals of furnished apartments in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Tianjin and Chengdu.

  • Well-designed and furnished long or short-term apartments
  • Available in 9 cities
  • No deposit for graduates
  • Moving and cleaning services

Different from other brokerage companies, Ziroom is building an Online to Offline (O2O) firm in China’s real estate industry to help real estate professionals become more efficient in their business, more technology-savvy and more professional when working with home buyers/sellers.

Beike Zhaofang (贝壳找房)

In 2018, Lianjia spinned off Beike Zhaofang to create a tech-savvy online real estate service platform. It provides virtual reality (VR) housing tours. Using the Beike app, people can virtually see and experience the rooms’ design and layout, without needing to physically go there. Beike is the fastest growing brokerage company. Over the past two years, it has raised a total of $1.2 billion in funding over four rounds, and it is recently rumored to seek an IPO this year.

  • Technology-driven, VR housing tours
  • Over 250,000 brokers and nearly 30,000 offline store
  • Covering 31 Chinese provinces and nine countries

5i5j (我爱我家)

5i5j, founded in 2000, is a highly recognizable secondary residential and rental-market brokerage company in China. It is the first real estate broker company listed on the China Stock Exchange, with more than 3,500 community based offline shops and over 58,000 agents globally.

  • Massive authentic housing resources
  • Customized recommendations by agents
  • VR tours for free online introduction
  • Xiangyu, a rental unit under 5i5j, mainly focuses on quality apartments

Danke Apartment (蛋壳公寓)

Danke Apartment is a leading internet-enabled apartment management startup in China. Founded in January 2015, Danke Apartment has raised a total of $874.7 million in over six funding rounds. On Jan. 17, 2020, Danke was listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and is China’s second long-term rental apartment service provider listed in the U.S after Qingke Apartment. Danke manages over 320,000 apartment units in major cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Hangzhou.

  • Original design and well-furnished
  • Regular room cleaning service
  • Smart door lock for safety

Douban Groups for Rentals (豆瓣租房小组)

Douban, launched on March 6, 2005, is an interest-based social networking platform in China. One of its popular products is the Douban Group, where people with similar interests or purpose join together. Douban Rental Group is like a rental forum for people to rent out spare rooms or find a proper place to live. There are Chinese groups as well as English speaking groups for expats in China. If you want to find a room owner instead of an agent to avoid the agency fee, then you will need to spend some time sorting through the extensive posts.

Xianyu Rental (闲鱼租房)

Xianyu, owned by Alibaba, is an online secondhand platform where people can share secondhand objects and spaces. In 2019, Xianyu users had exceeded 200 million. Every day, there are more than 1 million people sharing more than 2 million personal idle items on the platform. Xianyu Rental is one of its popular features. Landlords, tenants, and agents will post a lot of renting information every day. The platform also features a filter option to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

Kanfanggou (看房狗)

Kanfanggou is an online rental community founded in 2017, and it launched mini-program in May 2018, helping Beijing tenants find the perfect roommate. By July 2020, it had a total of 420,000 users, with more than 10,000 paid users. The startup has a unique agent review mechanism to ensure 95% of the rental information is personal listings.