What are the top factors to keep in mind when searching for a place to live in your city?
Living costs in Suzhou are low compared to the larger cities of Beijing and Shanghai. Average rent for an expat in the SIP or SND is about USD 7.5 per square meter; however this is dependent on the popularity of the apartment complex and the individual landlords concerned. (In practice, rents are negotiable.) It is also dependent on the type of apartment: serviced or not, Western or Chinese-style living.
A family with one child living in the SIP could expect their utilities to amount to around CNY 1,118 (electricity, gas, water, telephone and Internet). It is still very cheap to eat in Suzhou, especially if you eat Chinese food as opposed to visiting Western-style restaurants, which often target expats with higher-than-average prices.
What are the most popular neighborhoods in your city for expats?
Suzhou is divided into two main living areas popular with expats; The Suzhou New District and the Suzhou Industrial Park. Downtown is not a popular choice due to traffic congestion, overcrowding and lack of quality apartment compounds. The two industrial parks are expanding rapidly so popular neighborhoods tend to be clustered around areas with good facilities. The choice is astounding. Most expats live in high-rise apartments that are located in fenced compounds with 24-hour security - many compounds have their own shops, restaurants, swimming pool and gym. The other option is renting a multi-story villa which is more expensive, but might be more suitable for a family with children. The villa compounds are located on the rapidly developing fringe areas; not as close to shopping and restaurant areas but usually closer to international school campuses.
Do expats tend to buy or rent their homes?
Almost all expats rent their homes, as assignments tend to last only two to three years.
Typically, will I be required to pay additional money up front (such as a deposit) before moving into leased housing? If so, how much is common?
The standard practice is to pay a deposit equivalent to one or two months' rent in addition to your first month's rent in advance of your actual check-in date. Depending on your requirements, this may be as soon as the lease is signed.
Are utilities generally included in the price of rent, or are they extra?
As a general rule, utilities are not included in the rent. It may be possible to negotiate inclusion of some in the rental.
Are there special security concerns I should be aware of in regards to my home or choice of neighborhood?
Suzhou is a safe city. Most housing compounds are gated and have 24/7 security patrols. You should always take care of your bags and belongings in crowded public places as pickpocketing and theft is reasonably common.
I’m not sure if I should bring my appliances. What is the electric current, Hz and plug shape in your city?
The electric current in China is 220 volts. The electrical Hertz (Hz) is 50. Appliances in China are relatively cheap and it may be more convenient to purchase regular items here after your actual relocation. Voltage transformers aren't easily sourced.
The official plug type is similar to Type A, but slightly shorter and without holes in blades. Type A and I outlets are common and Type G might also be found.
Below are examples of the types of plugs that are used in China:
Type A - flat blade attachment plug
Type I - Oblique flat blades with ground (inverted V)
Type G - Rectangular blade plug
Do you have any other accommodation information that might help me?
Suzhou, like most cities in China, is undergoing considerable construction. Check to see if your accommodation is close to a building site or is likely to be affected by a new construction site. Often construction will be 24/7, creating an uncomfortable living situation for surrounding tenants. Also, check when your building was built and check the walls and attachments carefully. Workmanship in China has not yet reached foreign standards and tends to disintegrate rapidly.
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown representative.