Saturday, May 08, 2010

List of the Month - why I like my new apartment

I've been here five months now, and am finally starting to feel fairly well settled in. The advantages over my old pad are becoming more and more apparent.

Reasons Why I Prefer My New Apartment

1) Lower rent
Well, in fact it's only 100rmb lower than my old rent; at least until my greedy bastard former landlord decided to try and ramp it up from 4,600 to 6,000 a month. I held him to 5,500, but even that was starting to bite during the slack earnings period I've been suffering this last year or so.

2) An Internet connection that actually (sort of, almost) works
The cabling in my old building was just awful, not truly "broadband-capable" at all; and the service provided by China Netcom was a joke. I had my doubts when I moved in here about subscribing to a local Intranet just for my compound, but the connection - while not ultra-fast - is way better than I've ever had in China before (I think the secret is that there aren't too many other regular Net-surfers in my building), and gratifyingly reliable (I'd lose the Netcom connection for days at a time, with no explanation or apology ever given).

3) Peace and quiet
The increase in traffic volume (and particularly the increase in the volume of heavy trucks delivering construction materials in the middle of the night) on the nearby 2nd Ringroad has been massive over the past 5 years. I'm actually just a little a bit nearer to the Ringroad now, but shielded by surrounding buildings (might be a bit difficult to sleep in my study on the north side of the building), rather than on the top floor, looking directly out on to the bloody thing.

4) A view that is less of an eyesore
I miss my old view of the park outside my balcony. But then, I'd been missing that for a year or more already. They turned it into a construction site immediately after the Olympics, and 18 months on there's still no sign of them finishing whatever it is they're supposed to be doing there. My views now - two quiet residential compounds - are drab but cosy.

5) Everything works!
The wiring in the old place was a nightmare. Half the lights didn't work in the first place, others died serially during the five years I was there, and some of the bulbs used to blow so frequently that I gave up replacing them. By the end, I was living in near-darkness. The water-heater in the kitchen used to cut out constantly, meaning no reliable supply of hot water for washing up. The water-heater in the bathroom had a broken safety-switch (which the miserly landlord refused to replace), so I had to leave it permanently plugged in and switched on - at who knows what cost to my electricity bill. The kitchen ceiling was falling in. Most of the cupboard doors were falling off. I touch wood, spit on the ground, and cross my fingers, but...... thus far, everything in my new place seems to be fully serviceable. It is a revelation.

6) Cooler neighbourhood, cooler neighbours
While the too-frequent, too-repetitive music practice can get a bit grating at times, on the whole, I love living surrounded by musicians. And even though I'm not actually living in a traditional courtyard property, I am living on a hutong, and I love that too.

7) The temperature's cooler too
The old place was on the top floor of the building, beneath a flat, tar-covered roof (and on the south-east corner of the building, to boot): it was a sweat-box. During the summer, the temperature inside could reach sweltering within an hour or so of the sun coming up - and that cost me a small fortune in air-conditioning whenever I was spending the day working at home. Being near the base of the building, and with the thick, thick walls mysteriously favoured in most Chinese residential accommodation, I seem to be well-insulated from the sun in the new pad. Of course, the weather hasn't got really hot yet, and I am a trifle concerned about the absence of an air-conditioning unit in the living room, but..... at present the apartment is blissfully cool to return to; whereas the old one wasn't.

8) A much nicer landlord
Again I should invoke superstitions for warding off jinx, but.... my new landlord and his wife seem to be very friendly, easy-going, and helpful. My old landlord was an archetypal money-grubbing moron - I am so glad to be rid of him.


JES said...

greedy bastard former landlord

You could probably amass a small fortune among tenants (or former tenants!) marketing the acronym "GBFL."

Froog said...

Does anyone pay for acronyms? I tried selling them from a blanket on the ground at a music festival last weekend, but didn't get any takers.

JES said...


Maybe your mistake was in trying to sell the Western, Roman-letter versions. Might have had better luck, where you are, with the ones consisting of single strokes of a bamboo brush.

(Which naturally makes me wonder if there really are something like acronyms in non-Western written languages: shortcuts which depend on the reader's knowledge of common "phrases"...)

Froog said...

Chinese seems to abbreviate a lot: important combinations of words/characters can often be recognised from just one element, so that's what people invariably use in daily speech - and it doesn't seem to be regarded as in any way informal or improper.

For example, in Beijing one of the big central landmarks is the gongren tiyuchang (Workers' Sports Stadium), always called simply gong ti. Similarly with the names of the universities: I used to teach at the beijing shifan daxueyuan (Beijing Teachers' University [more literally "big study place"]), known as bei shi da.