We moved into a new apartment in June. Jeff will work on the Bund (right near the river in the heart of Shanghai. I will start working in August. My job is about an hour away from Jeff’s work, to the west, in a place with lots of foreigners called Hongqiao (hong-chow).
The good news is that both jobs are on the same subway line, line 10. Easy, right? We should just find an apartment halfway between the two jobs. The only problem is that we couldn’t find any apartments with a bigger kitchen and a wider living room in the middle of our two work locations. All the apartments in our price range had a tiny kitchen, and a long narrow living room. I wanted a bigger kitchen with a real oven.
In the end, we found a good sized 3-bedroom, 2 + 1 bath apartment with a “big” kitchen, and a “wide” living room (by Shanghai standards). The kitchen even has a pantry off the kitchen, with a separate little bathroom. It is designed to be the maid’s quarters if we wanted a live-in maid—which we don’t. We asked the landlord to install an oven for us in the place that used to be wasted by a “dish sterilizer” that nobody uses. It is not a dishwasher, but uses a UV light to supposedly sterilize the dishes after they are washed. Everybody just uses them for storage.
We also asked for the apartment to be painted, which turned out to be a very strange request. Nobody paints apartments, I guess. The landlord at first didn’t understand, and just put a few strokes of paint on one patch of one wall in the living room. The paint didn’t match the old paint and didn’t even cover all the little marks on the wall. We asked for paint on the entire apartment, and the landlord finally complied. The walls look great now.
In our old apartment the walls were small and our few large paintings took over the whole wall. In the new place, the paintings are sort of dwarfed by the large walls. It took me about a month to figure out where to put the paintings, but now they are hung, thanks to the building’s handyman. He is such a pro that he came in and put all the nails in very fast and in just the right places. You can’t put nails in yourself, because the walls are concrete. He had to put in an anchor and screw for each picture to hang on.
The new apartment is in the same complex as our old apartment, very close to the downtown and Jeff’s job, but a 50 minute commute from my new job. It was my choice, though. I really like the new apartment. The location is far from my job, but close to everything else—3 subway lines, banks, groceries, downtown, restaurants, tourist sites, church, etc. Our view of the skyline takes your breath away. I can look out the office window and see the Bund Center building where Jeff works, complete with its lighted lotus crown on top. The Oriental Pearl building, the Jin Mao tower and the World Financial Center skyskrapers, plus the Citi building with its LED screen face are right outside my window.