Before you start frantically rolling up teacups in T-shirts, consider what your budget will buy you in terms of moving services. In Beijing, paying a bit more could mean having to do much, much less. ‘Relocation services’, as some are known, can take care of nearly everything, from assessing the job to packing – and even unpacking – everything in your new home. Alternatively, do most of it yourself and you may only need to fork out for a man with a van.
The no-nails-chipped move
For a completely hassle-free transition, reputable English- speaking company Trust Mover can have you relocated across town all in a day’s work. They’ll carry out a free pre-evaluation, and, if you book them, will turn up on the day with all the equipment. According to one customer, they’re so great that ‘I would trust [Trust Mover] to deliver my baby’.
Minimum costs for moves in Beijing start at a base fee of 1,300RMB for 5m3 volume of luggage (260RMB per 1m3). It includes unpacking and rearranging everything inside the new home; all you have to do is oversee the movers and point, essentially. Apartment cleaning is not included in the service, however. You’ll need to rely on an ayi or a cleaning company, as even top moving firms won’t offer this service.
At premium rates, Santa Fe, a global network that’s suitable for larger or family-sized moves, offers specialist services such as fine art packing and shipping and pet relocations, both domestically and abroad. Prices start at 3,000RMB for 10m3 of transport volume.
The DIY move
Storage boxes are the lifeblood of any DIY move. Head to your local post office where you can pick up cardboard boxes cheaply enough (11RMB for a large) along with acres of bubble wrap. Avoid preventable losses by labelling your boxes with ‘fragile items’, so the movers know not to drop or, Heaven forbid, throw your stuff about. We’ve all seen those pavement-based kuaidi hub free-for-alls. You should also label the room that each box needs to end up in so the movers can get it to the right place swiftly on arrival.
Local giant Beijing Brother Move House (兄弟搬家, Chinese only) is good value if you want a no-frills service. Prices start at 300RMB for a one-way journey in a small lorry. Be aware, however, that additional fees apply as listed on their website – so read carefully and ask for a free advance evaluation. The ‘VIP Package’, starting at 1,800RMB, provides a meticulous service, including eight hours of unlimited lorry runs within a 10km radius; upgrade to unlimited packing too for an extra 1,200RMB. If all you’re after is some muscle power (without the van), Beijing Brother also rents out manpower at 80RMB per man per hour.
Plenty of organisations will gladly take your unwanted stuff off your hands. Drop your used goods off at one of the centrally located stations provided by the popular charity store Roundabout. It has an English website and does home pick ups for heavy and bulky items like books (fill in a request form online).
Alternatively, you can pop your old clothes into one of the bars and restaurants participating in Thrift (WeChat: jmrapp19) – a project that donates or resells them at pop-up events. The Beijing Government has a scattering of stations that accept second-hand clothing (visit their page for locations; Chinese only), recycling them to far-flung areas of China, including disaster-hit regions. Many are centrally located, including a station in Dongzhimen’s Min’an compound just northwest of the subway station (Building 15; 6402 7404).
For those refusing to part ways with that LBD (Little Black Dress) without compensation, H&M runs an in-store reward scheme, where one standard H&M bag of worn clothing gets you a 15 percent discount voucher on one full-price item of clothing in store.
You’ve tried but you just can’t face giving your stuff away. Or maybe you just need somewhere to dump it all during a long break from Beijing. Luckily, there are paid-for storage services that will let your inner hoarder run wild. Our favourite is newcomer Koala Mini Storage – underground storage with locations in Sanlitun, Joy City, Wudaokou and Guomao.
Spaces range from a locker to garage-sized rooms (up to 50m3) and prices start at 99RMB/1m3 per month. The facility is monitored 24 hours with temperature control so you can rest assured your stuff hasn’t melted in the summer heat.
Not sure how to ask for the moving essentials? Don't worry, we've got it covered.
Cardboard box – zhi hezi ( 纸盒子)
Bubble wrap – qipaomo (汽泡膜)
Fragile items – yisuipin (易碎品)
This side up – zhemian
Kitchen – chufang (厨房)
Bedroom – woshi (卧室)
Lounge – keting (客厅)
Bathroom – yushi (浴室 )
Lanren Jiazheng 'Home services for the lazy' is one of the largest online portals for home help. You can find nannies, ayis and even home nurses for the sick.
China Unicom For internet installation, China Unicom is your best bet. the fastest broadband service – 4Mb per second – costs 160-180RMB per month, with installation costing around 200RMB. New buildings have fibre-optic cables (190-240RMB a month). If you call 10010, press 9 for English.
Yijiajie is a website and app that offers a list of maintenance services including plumbing (guandao shutong, 管道疏通). It also offers a new home cleaning service (Xinju Kaihuang, 新居开荒) so you can move into a spotless place.
If you live in an apartment complex, your first point of call should be your building's management (wuye, 物业). They'll often have a free-of-charge, in-house electrician. If that's not an option, call Beijing Zhuanye Diangong Weixu (150 1038 9161), who can dispatch an electrician to get the lights back on.
Yihonglong Kaisuo is a professional locksmith company that runs a 24-hour service across Beijing. You'll need to provide both an ID and rental contract once the door is opened. Alternatively, tell your building's management you need to kaisuo (开锁) and they may be able to find someone more local. Phone them on 1120 8996.
WeChat Secretary is an English-speaking service that helps non-Chinese speakers with simple tasks like finding a handyman, getting water delivered, setting up an Alipay account and so on. If you're in a jam, they can even accompany you to the hospital and help translate (200RMB an hour). For a lot of online help, the charge is 10 percent of whatever sum you end up spending.