I called +86 21 114 which is the phone directory in Shanghai and was told the serviced apartments I was after is not registered with them. I realised that you can't contact these serviced apartments directly, that means, the only way to inquire or book service apartments are through those real estate agents.
I called Shanghai Pearl Property whose advertisement for serviced apartments is everywhere. I was told that they don't have any apartment available for budget within US$1000 in Shanghai downtown of Puxi. All the serviced apartments they have got are much more expensive.
Then I went to a couple of real estate agent websites and found out their service charges:
- No charge if your lease is more than a year (the apartment developer pays them commission)
- 1/4 of the monthly rent cost for lease 6-9 months
- 3/4 of the monthly rent cost for lease less than 6 months, more than 3 months
- full amount of monthly rent cost for lease less than 3 months
So if I rent a serviced apartment for US$1000 f or one month, I actually have to pay US$2000! Ridiculous! I can't imagine any one would like this deal.
(The price range for serviced apartment in the downtown area of Puxi is US$1000 - US$5000 for studio, 1 bed - 3 bed. )
I came to some other options such as staying with friends for a few days, hiring an agent to find an apartment for us now before we arrive etc. However, I prefer my privacy and still like to find the apartment myself to gurantee the quality and satisfaction.
Finally I decided that
- we can book a hotel for a couple of days;
- the first couple of days in Shanghai should be just for apartment hunting;
- as soon as we find the right apartment, we move in.
Generally you can move in straight away whenever you find an apartment you like because they are always empty when they are on the market for rent. You never inspect an apartment with tenants in it in Shanghai.
I have to admit that I have underestimated the task and of looking for accommodation in Shanghai and also have underestimated the price. Things are always more complicated than on the surface.