We Have Moved!

Greetings from Shanghai and our new home! I got back from Australia 8 days ago and spent the time packing, moving and now unpacking... the joys... not.

We were very happy in our last place but our rental agreement was up for renewal and the owner wasn’t being reasonable. The rental increase was too much and the owner would only extend for a year which meant that we would have to go through the whole negotiation process again and too soon for our liking. In the meantime, however, Shanghai had built quite a few new serviced apartments which lead me to spend two weeks in November last year apartment-hunting. Not only did I find something suitable but it was also lower in rent! Yay!

Not our new apartment! Christoph joined me during the weekends on the apartment-hunt. Obviously this one ended up being on the ‘not suitable’ list.

Not our new apartment! Christoph joined me during the weekends on the apartment-hunt. Obviously this one ended up being on the ‘not suitable’ list.

Even though the building is new, the reason for the lower rent is the location. There isn’t a convenient subway station close by, but one will open towards the end of the year. There will also be a fully-equipped gym available, but that will also only open towards the end of the year. It seems we like to move into places that are construction sites which then turn out really nice by the time we leave. Aya.

On a domestic note, I have been completely spoiled and had a dishwashing machine in the last two apartments in Shanghai. Now we have to wash by hand; the hardship!!! hihi Other than that, everything else is as it should be. We are very comfortable and should be all set in another week or so. I still have about 6 boxes left to unpack. I’m doing one per day from now on as Shanghai life has taken hold with each day being filled with teaching craft classes, cultural awareness training, hospital volunteering and manning phones. Just the way it should be ;o)

Christmas in July

I'm cursed. We are out of the hotel, which was something I was so looking forward to, but now after countless hours unpacking, I'm disliking the moving process. It feels like it's going to take me maybe the entire week to put everything away in our new home! Hmm.

Last evening in the hotel room; we'll definitely miss the view.

Last evening in the hotel room; we'll definitely miss the view.

Our move itself was quite unconventional. We hired a 22-seater bus from the hotel, had 2 bellboys help us load our 10 suitcases, 8 boxes, various bags and washing machine onto the bus and then drove to the apartment. The bus driver thought that he was picking up guests as he looked quite confused when we started to load the boxes on board, but it's China and he shrugged it off and ended up pleased that his drive wasn't going to be a long one. I travelled in our car with fragile miscellaneous items while Christoph went in the bus and sat holding onto the washing machine the entire way in case it toppled off the step! Once we arrived at the apartment, we had the 2 bellboys there help us unload and cart everything upstairs. It was quite a feat to have it all done in a day and without any hiccups.

The 22-seater bus with Christoph on board. 

The 22-seater bus with Christoph on board. 

Apart from what luggage we had in the hotel, also delivered were 7 boxes that we've had in storage in Beijing for the past 22 months. These boxes arrived completely filthy and looked like they would fall apart any minute. Luckily at the time of packing in 2014, we had the foresight to expect that the boxes may get water-logged and/or damaged, which lead us to ensure that each packed item was space-bagged or water-proofed in some way. And boy am I glad that was done! Everything has been spick and span so far.

So it's like Christmas has come early because I had completely forgotten what the boxes contained. (The main reason why I had forgotten about the contents was that we weren't sure if we would be coming back to China after our last stint, so the items were supposedly disposable if the need arose.) There's one thing to have a packing list, which we did of course, but it's another to actually see each item and remember what it meant to you. We still try to be fairly minimalistic so it seems like there is so much stuff now but in another way, I feel like we're recycling our belongings. I have a whole new wardrobe with fashion from 2 years ago but I'm guessing that no one will notice ;-)

Our new views :-) 

Our new views :-) 

On another note, we are now official legal residents of China and look forward to what the next few years will bring. Shanghai is still busy, demanding, challenging, changing and continuously developing, so come and have a peek if you haven't already for we won't be here forever!

Moving Soon!

I've been in Shanghai for about a week and have been really happy to be back. I'm in the midst of organising my teaching schedule for the month and taking up Ikebana classes again. Christoph is still in the set up phase of the company's China office which keeps him busy each day. Even with such a full week, we've happily been able to catch up with our friends here as well as those who travel through Shanghai frequently. It's always wonderful to be surrounded by familiar faces and have great conversations together.

My highlight of the month will be when we move. I'm really looking forward to having our own apartment soon; even though the hotel has been very good for what we've needed so far. I can understand how hotel living is the zenith in terms of convenience and service but for me, I miss having a kitchen and complete privacy. Christoph admits that if it weren't for me, he'd live in a hotel indefinitely- it's the ultimate bachelor pad!

So I will get on with it and start filling our suitcases with our belongings and work out how to move this washing machine! ;-)

Living with a Little Less

We had the last of our sold furniture picked up yesterday and now, a day before we head to Berlin for the summer, the apartment is looking quite sparse.

Before and after shots of the living space.

Before and after shots of the living space.

I have to admit that having a base in Berlin allows us to declutter with the peace-of-mind that we, in fact, already have everything we need. So letting go of our belongings here in Shanghai has been extremely do-able. What's also great is that everything we have given away will get recylced, re-sold or used for while to come. Nothing is ever wasted in China.

Also thanks to modern technology, CDs, DVDs and photo albums are all in clouds hence no need to pack those. Almost all our books are on our kindles... I just can't let go of my cookbooks!... and we have magazine subscriptions on our devices. So what else do we need these days?

The process of decluttering has been very liberating. Having less to lug around gives us less to worry about :-)

Apartment Update

Last weekend, our new owners came by to have a look at the apartment. We found out that they bought it in Decemebr of last year and have never seen it. The visit gave me a small insight into the up-and-coming Chinese middle class.

Lucy and John both speak English, they have a 15 year old son and are originally from Xi'An. They're currently renting and this is their first buy. They both appeared to be very down-to-earth, well-educated and hard-working. No Prada handbags or Gucci shoes in sight.

They arrived on time with their interior designer, her assistant and a man from the compound's sales office. So we had 5 people walking through the apartment on a Saturday morning. I hadn't known this before, but when most people buy an apartment, they immediately hire an interior designer and will spend an average of 5,000 rmb (810 usd) per square metre for decoration. This apartment is roughly 200 sqm, so apart from the 80,000 rmb (12,950 usd) per square metre sale price, they may be spending up to 1 mil rmb (162,000 usd) on the interior. Wow!

They walked through the apartment and were surprised by what they saw, as the layout was slightly different to the showcase apartment. First question we had to ourselves was, "How can you buy an apartment without ever having seen it in person?". Strange. But they were overall happy with everything and quite surprised to learn that we've been living here since December 2011. Most Chinese-built apartments start to have cracks on the walls after 2 years.

Of all the rooms and other than the kitchen, the group of 5 spent most of the time in the son's soon-to-be room. I know that children are important, but I would have been going around checking where all of the power sockets are and if the windows all have good insulation!

With the rest of the apartment, there will definitely be changes coming. The kitchen will be replaced, a wall will be added to separate it from the living area and they were contemplating ripping up the floors for a darker parkett. Open living spaces in China aren't completely 'in' yet... which is a bit of a shame. Here are some pictures of what it currently looks like.

Our moving date is still to be finalised but we really enjoyed the apartment while we've been in Shanghai. I don't think I'll ever find a nicer rental anywhere in the Middle Kingdom.