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Top 4 Differences between American & Chinese Housing

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With such densely populated cities, apartments in China are probably quite different from the familiar for expats. Since there are so many options, it helps to get recommendations from a trusted source and inquire directly with the property owner for availability. Knowing what to expect in a Chinese apartment is helpful when embarking on your search!

1. Splashing Showers

Apartment bathrooms in China are generally built as a multi-use room. The small room usually has a tile floor and the first thing many expats will notice is that there is no bathtub or shower door. Some apartments will have a bar and curtain installed to help contain the water, but it is not uncommon for the shower head to be exposed to the rest of the room. Remember to keep any electronics, like hair dryers or electric clippers, stowed away where they will stay dry. 

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2. Kitchen Appliances 

Nearly all Chinese food is cooked using a stove top, so ovens, microwaves, and toasters are typically not included in apartments. Small appliances can be purchased for the countertop, but it may also be fun for expats to experiment with traditional Chinese cooking techniques, like using a wok over an open flame and steaming in bamboo baskets. Chinese kitchens are quite small, so if you plan to purchase an additional appliance, it is wise to consider counter space when considering available temporary housing options. 

Image of a dining area in a Chinese apartment

3. Laundry Time

Although this won't come as a surprise to Europeans, Americans will be interested to learn that Chinese apartments rarely have clothes dryers. They may, however, have a small outdoor area that can be used for drying clothes. Be sure to pick up some clothespins or a drying rack on your first shopping trip.

Image of clothes pins to dry laundry in China

4. Firm Furniture 

Chinese people generally prefer harder surfaces when it comes to chairs, sofas, and beds. For Americans, it may be more comfortable to buy a mattress topper and cushions for chairs. 


Spending time in a foreign country can involve making a lot of adjustments in daily tasks. Learning about differences in attitudes, procedures, and practices can help travelers anticipate those adjustments and will make transitioning to life abroad smoother! Consider reading some other blogs about international housing:

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