Wednesday, August 21, 2013

House Hunters International: Shanghai Edition

Welcome to The Rose's House Hunters International : Shanghai

Most of you might not know this but the Mrs and I are House Hunters International freaks!
Its a show that meshes our love of HGTV with our never ending wanderlust. It's pretty great! While the Mrs. and I were stateside, we were glued to the TV watching endless episodes of Design Star, House Hunters International, Design on a Dime, Iron Chef and The Barefoot Contessa. Needless to say we have a number of ideas for our new place. From recipes to for our house warming to revamping old furniture projects.   Clearly this is going to require a Pinterest board.
Lets not forget my wife's favorite past time of renovating restaurants/cafe into apartments in her mind as we dine. Starting with her never fail statement as she takes in design inventory while sipping her first cocktail, looking at her surroundings" you know what babe?" What?" I respond, already knowing what she's going to say. "This would make a great apartment right?" I nod and smile.

That brings me to our latest quest. Our first newlywed flat in Shanghai. Our first year in Shanghai was one filled with a number of growing pains. We got here mid August last year it was sweltering and we were cooped up in a small hotel on the world's hardest bed.
We were suffering from jet lag, sweaty, beyond exhausted and tired of living out of suitcases. We were in a mad dash to find an apartment.
We were supposed to have help from our old employer finding an apartment.
"Help" consisted of a  Shanghai  neophyte dragging us around to Chinese hovels around the city. Pay rent at these places? We would be better off invoking squatters rights! That's not to say they're aren't fabulous apartments in Shanghai, because there are. At the time we just didn't know where to find them and clearly neither did our guide. After a week of looking at terrible apartments a western coworker put us in touch with a fast talking, foul mouthed, damn near native Chinese real estate agent who listened to what we needed and our budget and showed us the apartment we live in now. It wasn't everything we wanted, but it was a place to call home and it was located in the middle of Shanghai proper. Which is like the equivalent of living in the Upper East Side.  We had a great view, it was clean, in a western style building , nice furniture, two bedroom and quite frankly the nicest thing we'd seen so far. Sweaty and exhausted we signed the lease that night without hesitation.
That is NOT what we are doing this time around. We plan on living in our new apartment for at least the next two years so we want it to be something we love.
So now that we have had some time on our hands before our new jobs start, we've been calling every agent we know, and looking at everything. We've increased out budget by a few hundred dollars to really get what we want in an apt. Central air/heating is a MUST this year, I would like a tub but its not a deal breaker,  a more modern apt building , an open kitchen so we can both get down, not to far from People's Square, more storage space, a big bathroom, and western amenities.
We are really looking to make our next apartment HOME. Especially as newlyweds, we want our place to be our love nest ((yes we are that gay))
Marriage is a compromise and so must be our search. My wife is queen of modern and sleek and I'm a lover of all things shabby chic. She's all stainless steel, symmetry , bright but uniform color, and clean lines, while I'm mix n' match second hand furniture, crazy patterns, splashes of color, and eclectic pieces. So you can imagine the side eyes given by each of us, when  one of us says "  Ooooh I like it". Oh the struggle.
Being a Cancer my home is my sanctuary. As an expat home is truly just that. In a loud, smelly and sometimes abrasive China, you know as soon as you turn your key in the door of your apartment, you step through the threshold and magically you are transported to your very own piece of your home country on foreign soil. For Toya and I, our apartment is our own little piece of America. English on the TV, our favorite American food being prepared in the kitchen even down to the Glade candles burning of the coffee table. You inhale HOME.
So I say all that to say when house hunting as an expat, don't rush into finding a space. Yes you will have to compromise on some things,  because you're not in your home country but take your time really find some place you love. On those days when your foster country is overwhelming and too much to bear...  trust me it will be like that some days. You'll have a little space to call your own to escape.
So begins our hunt for the perfect space to call our own.
Until next time...


  1. So, you guys are proud house-hunters? It’s good to know the stress doesn’t seem to wear you out. And yes, don’t rush into your search. Careful planning and a good hindsight are needed if you want to land in the perfect house. Good luck! Calvin @ Calvin @

  2. So, glad I found your blog!! I'm moving to Shanghai this summer to (teaching at a school nearby). Are there any areas you would suggest for a single parent. I have a 14 yr old son. I've tried researching and am thinking about Gubei or Qi Bao! Would you suggest this area? My budget is a little limited at 9000rmb.

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  4. Searching for a new home in a foreign country is really hard, especially when you don’t have friends or family members to guide you. It’s a challenge, yet one of the most fulfilling adventures in life. Months have passed now and I believe you’ve already found your own space. How was the house hunting? Did you work with a reliable realtor?

    Jessica Wilkie

  5. Hey there! I found your blog searching for House Hunters International China episodes! Ha. We have HGTV going now with Property Brothers as I sit here surfing for inspiration while we wait for our move date. We will be "down the road" (or rail) in Suzhou. Fortunately, we will have some time to look around for a permanent place because we will be in a temporary apt/hotel for 2-3 months. So many things to think about!