I recently (mid Dec) went through the process of renting in Kunming. It was fairly smooth, asides the leg work of looking at apartments- though the estate agents will drive you around on the back on their e-bikes (in a lot of cases) to check places out. Expect some hard selling! I eventually found a 1 bedroom place on Beijing Lu, near chuanxin Gulou metro station(摩玛 mansions), in a new building, 30th floor with some furniture included (please NB almost no places will have A/C or heating) for 1600Y month. If you wanted a lower floor it would probably cheaper. I would say max 2000Y per month for fully furnished- even for 2b/r on low floor. There are quite a few estate agents offices around my building- and it’s pretty close to all the universities. If you buy an ebike here (they’re very cheap) then it would be pretty convenient. Otherwise, just walk around the ground floor of the apartment complex you like and you will see estate agents.
I was able to pay by the quarter, plus agent fee and bond- so basically 5 months’ worth up front. The estate agent took me around to second hand markets where I was able to get most of the stuff I needed for well under 1000Y.
It’s possible I could have bargained harder to reduce the agent’s fee, but I couldn’t be bothered as time was of the essence (I was living in an hotel).
In all honesty, the hardest part was finding an estate agent- I now realise that they are to be found amongst the shops on the ground floor of high rise apartment complexes.
I would also keep the following in mind when you inspect places to avoid nasty surprises later on:
- check that the gas works for the stove in the kitchen. And the bathroom, if it uses such. Apparently a lot of places in KM now no longer use gas, so you have to buy an electric hotplate for all cooking.
- make sure the water in the bathroom heats up to a decent temperature. Also make sure that the kitchen sink has hot water (a lot don’t if there is no gas).
- if the place is dirty/smells, ask the agent if they will have it cleaned first for no additional cost. And really check if the place is dirty thoroughly!
-make sure you are given keys for your mailbox, or you will be made to pay to ‘rent’ it later on. And get them to write down your correct postal address.
- make sure they connect your utilities and internet. NB you will probably have to pay 6 months upfront for internet. Make sure the internet allows peer-to-peer (if you use it). And check your monthly data allowance.
- if you don’t like the furniture or want it changed to new stuff, ask the agent if the owner will do this- and be firm on this. If they won’t do it or insist that you should buy new stuff with your own cash, then walk.
- if there’s a water filter unit, get the details for your local water delivery guy.
- if in doubt, or you’re not fluent, get a Chinese to accompany you. It’ll probably be worth it for all the haggling and signing contracts.
- remember to register with the local police after you sign the lease.
Sadly, estate agents tend to be scheisters the world over. Be firm and you’ll be fine :)
Hope this helps and good luck!