Apartments in Shanghai are offered either “decorated” or “undecorated.” The vast majority will be sold or rented as undecorated. Buyers must be aware of what is being offered to them at a certain price.
Decorated means that the apartment is, what we in the West would call, “unfurnished” – it does not have furniture, but it has painted walls, toilets, lights that work, air conditioners, floorboards, and everything else that makes the apartment ready for occupancy once you have purchased or moved your furniture into it.
Undecorated apartments have concrete wall and floors, holes where toilet pipes should go, a main electrical connection, but no wall or floor outlets, etc. In short, it looks as if the building is not finished. This is the typical condition of apartments purchased by most citizens of Shanghai. They will then find their own laborers to install walls, fixtures, kitchen appliances, and paint. Apartment rentals will almost always be decorated and sometimes furnished.
Apartments and houses (called villas in Shanghai) are advertised with the number of bathrooms (called washrooms here), living rooms, and bedrooms indicated in the following manner: number of bedrooms / number of living rooms / number of washrooms (what most of us call “bathrooms”). Therefore, an apartment advertised as 4/2/2 has 4 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, and 2 washrooms.
Property areas are shown in square meters (1 m2 = 10.76 square feet; therefore, an apartment of 124 m2 = 1,335 square feet). However, in Shanghai, the property area includes balconies, garages, and your portion of the corridor on your floor. For villas, the yard or garden space is included.
Since all apartments are in high-rise buildings, remember that some floors are not included. For example, in a building allegedly having 20 floors, the following floors do not exist: 4, 13, 14. So, if you buy or rent an apartment on the 15th floor, you are actually only on the 12th floor. Ads almost never indicate the floor of an apartment – you must ask the agent or go see the property in person.
Lastly, when you purchase a property, remember that the Chinese use units of 10,000 (called “wan”). Therefore, if you purchase an apartment for 3.1 million RMB, the price will be shown as 310 wan. If you rent a property, the rental price will in RMB per month, such as 20,000 RMB/month. Prices increase as the floor of the apartment increases.