Machiavellian Tactics Lower My Rent in China

The Chinese are not the only people with schemes up theirs sleeves. I decided to repay the favor of those unscrupulous people that I have been running into, and use Machiavellian traits to haggle the rent price of my apartment.

A drawing of Niccolo Machiavelli

I am currently living in a studio apartment six stops away from my workplace, which is near the city center in Tianhe. The asking price was 3,500 RMB per month, which is insane for such a tiny spot in a less-convenient part of Guangzhou. I had checked out other apartments that were larger, closer to metro stations, or conveniently located, and they were going in the mid 4,000’s range, so there was no way that I was going to pay the asking price.

Outside of established chains such as KFC, Watsons, and Wal-Mart, it is almost expected for people to haggle in Chinese culture. Taking almost anything for sticker price out here, something that foreigners often do makes one a sucker. Sure, looking at the price tags, you might think that you are getting a good deal compared to what you would pay back in your home country, but why not save even more money?

Taking a look at the apartment, I put my narcissistic personality to good use, and told the real estate agent that the price was much too high for such a tiny, inconveniently located apartment. I went on to tell her that I have taken a look at apartments that were offered much more for the same price. I told her that 2,500 RMB per month would be reasonable, on a six-month contract.

The agent responded by telling me that such a price was to low, but that she would call her manager to see what he had to say. When told that 2,500 was too low, but a price of 3,000 RMB per month could be arranged, I firmly told her that 2,700 would be the highest that I’d pay. Here I am, typing this post in my apartment paying 2,700 a month in rent.

Tent drying machine used in China
This is how I dry my clothes in China. Not as effective as a proper dryer, but probably more eco-friendly?

I am still not satisfied with this place, especially given its lack of proximity to a gym, but I will deal with it for the next half of a year. If I stay in Guangzhou for longer than six months (which is the plan based on my work contract), I will probably end up moving to a more convenient location – hopefully one that is not foreigner-infested.

The Take Away

China is a country where cutthroat, Machiavellian tactics are rewarded rather than shamed. Sure, they hate it when a foreigner, especially a Black foreigner, gets over on them like they try to do to us, but the environment can still be used to a foreigner’s advantage. Without shame, I intend to get mine too.

This post was originally written on January 21, 2016. I have since updated my perspective of my living arrangement:

The apartment is still too small for my tastes, but I was able to find a good gym within walking distance. The downsides are that the gym is expensive compared to my gym back home in California (not everything is cheaper in China), and it opens at ten in the morning, so it is going to be quite a crunch to get in a good workout before work. I have to get it in though.

I have been adapting to the lifestyle here lately. I came here because I wanted to, not to act like a little bitch. Time to find out other ways that a Black man can get Machiavellian to get my way out here in the Middle Kingdom.