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Comparing Serviced Apartments with Non-Serviced Apartments

Many of our clients who relocate to Shanghai are confronted with the decision of serviced apartments vs. non-serviced apartments. We hope this page will help define the two terms as appropriate for Shanghai, and give you an overview of the benefits and disadvantages of each choice.

For more detailed information, please feel free to contact us.

Serviced Apartments
  • Positives
    -Usually located in premium areas.
    -Often have full facilities, including pools, gyms and business services.
    -Management here tends to speak English with better proficiency
    -Pre-furnished and often equipped with day to day items such as utensils and linens.
    -Cheaper then staying in hotels for the long term.
    -Some serviced apartments offer shorter and more flexible lease or deposit terms.
    -Cleaning service, satellite channels and phone service hooked up before you arrive.
  • Negatives
    -Usually you are living in an unpersonable hotel-like atmosphere
    -More expensive then non serviced apartments
We are directed by many corporate HRs to only show serviced apartments to their company’s employees. The theory behind this is that a serviced apartment is completely ready for move in, so an expensive employee’s time and energy need not be wasted on things such as furniture shopping, telephone hook up and satellite tv installation. Since most serviced apartments are used to dealing with big business clients, contract negotiation and signing is also a much easier process for the expat’s legal and HR department.
For the serviced apartment resident, life is somewhat sheltered from the real Shanghai – not that most people would complain about this since access to Shanghai would be just an elevator ride away. Often residents appreciate the onsite pools and gyms which help alleviate stress without adding another daily commute. While there is a wide variety of serviced apartments, most furnishings tend to lean towards the inoffensive color schemes. While the alternative of gaudy gold-leaf trim or zebra print is not what most expats want, the tame color schemes seem to get boring for some residents after several months in Shanghai. Unfortunatly customization of the apartments is usually discouraged - unless you plan to forego your security deposit.

Perhaps the biggest detractor of serviced apartments is the price. For a high quality 2 bedroom serviced apartment in Shanghai, most of our clients pay between $2,500 and $10,000 USD per month.

For a list of some of Shanghai’s serviced apartments, please click here.

Non-Serviced Apartments
  • Positives
    -Locations all over Shanghai
    -Come in furnished, semi-furnished and unfurnished states
    -Cheaper then serviced apartments
    -Slightly more flexibility for customization
    -Able to hire your own cleaning services (recommended Ayi’s)
    -Often able to build your own satellite TV package
    -Often more choices in non serviced apartments
  • Negatives
    -No English management
    -Forced to take care of utility bills and hook ups yourself
    -Sometimes required to deal with the results of shoddy construction
    -Some landlords can be very difficult to deal with
    -Usually sporting facilities are sub-par.
Many of our clients also ask to see a selection of non serviced apartments. Non serviced apartments range from older local high-rises with poor management to some newly built towers with great facilties and very good management. Generally our clients step down to non serviced apartments if they are unable to find something serviced that is big enough or perfectly located within their housing budget. Many of our clients have been very happy with the non serviced apartments they find.
While most non-serviced buildings have sub-par sports facilties, many tenants transfer the rental savings into memberships at nearby healthclubs and gyms. We are often able to negotiate this directly into the lease contract itself. Other value add-ons which our agents are able to help with include maid service, utility hook-ups and furniture assistance (among others). Some of our more creative leases have included the option for the tenant to purchase furniture of their choosing in Shanghai, which will belong to then tenant after two or three years tenancy. Almost anything is possible.

The biggest detractors of non-serviced apartments are the hassles which inevitably happen. Experienced expats will be used to these problems, however for first time expats non-serviced apartments can add some more frustartions to an already stressful relocation. An experienced agent will do their best to mitigate these frustrations as much as possible. For more examples of non-serviced apartments please visit www.shanghaifinder.com
For more specific information on downtown Shanghai's apartments, please click here.


We are committed to helping you find a home, a school, or supply a Shanghai orientation that is specific to your needs. Our entire staff are courteous professionals who are experienced Shanghai residents that can understand your concerns and questions.Our referrals speak for themselves, but we'll be delighted to prove our excellent service first hand, as we search for your new home together.

-Michael Vrielink (Canadian)
Information Express
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