How To Use Ziroom to Find an Apartment in China

September 16, 2023

Ziroom or 自如 zìrú, a Chinese property rental app, has gained popularity among expats living in China in recent years in search of housing. Similar to Airbnb, the Ziroom app simplifies the process of apartment hunting in China for both locals and foreigners by providing apartment rental listings that can be easily tailored to individual needs.

This comprehensive article delves deep into the intricacies of using Ziroom to find housing in China. From the initial sign-up process to the diverse accommodation options Ziroom offers, we'll explore the advantages and potential drawbacks of relying on this platform for your apartment search. Additionally, we'll provide valuable tips for maximizing your Ziroom experience and address common questions that may arise during your housing journey.

Let's dive right in!


Ziroom is an apartment rental app run by the prominent Chinese real estate company Lianjia. Available both in English and Chinese, the Ziroom app features a range of fully furnished apartment listings available in numerous major Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Tianjin, and Wuhan. Nonetheless, the Chinese version of the Ziroom app is a lot less prone to technical issues and typically surpasses its English version as well as the website in terms of functionality. As such, this article aims to provide you with a comprehensive guide on navigating and using the Chinese edition of the Ziroom app.


The Ziroom app operates on an online-to-offline business model, allowing its users to browse and search for "offline" apartment units based on their specific preferences, including price range, size, location, and amenities. Of its 8 short-term and long-term rental products, the room rental, apartment rental, and short-term rental services are the most sought-after by expats living in China.


Before you can find your dream apartment with the Ziroom app, you’ll first have to download the Ziroom app by scanning the QR code on

Once you have the Ziroom app installed, click on the 我的 wǒ de button which you’ll find at the bottom right of the home screen.

How to sign up for Ziroom1

On the next screen, click on 登录/注册 dēnglù/zhùcè, then 注册 zhùcè (English: “to sign up”).

howtosignup2 how to sign up 3

Here, you can sign up for your Ziroom account using either your Chinese phone number or your email address.

Signing up for Ziroom with your Chinese phone number

Step 1:Input your Chinese phone number> Tick the “同意 《用户协议》和《隐私政策》tóngyì “yònghù xiéyì” hé “yǐnsī zhèngcè”, then click on “下一步 xià yībù“ at the bottom to go to the next step.

phone signup 1 phone sign up 2

Step 2: Here, a captcha may pop up for you to complete.
Step 3: Click “同意 tóngyì“ in the following prompt, after which you will be sent a verification code via text message. Input the verification code, then click on ”确认 quèrèn“ to confirm.

phonesignup3 phonesignup4

Step 4: Then, you will be required to set a 6 to 16-character password. You may click on ”显示 xiǎnshì“ to show your password. Once you’re satisfied with your password, tap “完成并登录 wánchéng bìng dēnglù” to complete the registration process and start browsing for apartments!

phone sign up5

Signing up for a Ziroom account using your email address

On the signup page, instead of inputting your phone number, click on “邮箱注册 yóuxiāng zhùcè” to register for a Ziroom account with your email address. If you prefer to go down this route, we won’t stop you but keep in mind that you will still need to have a Chinese phone number to complete the registration process.


Then enter your email address, tick the 同意 《用户协议》和《隐私政策》tóngyì “yònghù xiéyì” hé “yǐnsī zhèngcè” box, and lastly, click on “下一步 xià yībù“.


From here, all you need to do is follow the same Step 2, Step 3, and Step 4 as for registering with your phone number, with the only difference being that you will still be required to link your Chinese phone number to your account by repeating Step 2 and 3 with your phone number again before you can start looking for apartments. As you can see, the app isn’t fully optimized for email registration, which is why we highly recommend registering with your phone number from the start.


Step1: Login

If you just registered for a Ziroom account, you should have been automatically logged in. Otherwise, you may follow the steps outlined below to sign in. On the Ziroom app home screen, go to 我的>登录/注册.

login1 login2

Then input your phone number and password, tick the “同意 《用户协议》和《隐私政策》” box, and you’re in!


Now click on ”首页 shǒuyè” to go to the app’s homepage. At the top left corner, you’ll find your current city name and a small arrow.


Click on the arrow if the default city does not correspond to the one in which you wish to find an apartment, and you will be presented with a list of cities where Ziroom operates, which includes Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Chengdu, Wuhan, Guangzhou, Tianjin, and Suzhou.

On the same page, you will be presented with the various types of rental options available to you. Although Ziroom offers seven different types of rental services, the most popular options among foreigners will be the focus of this article. They are 合租 hézū (one-room rental), 整租 zhěng zū (whole apartment rental), and 短租 duǎn zū(short lease rental).

Step2: Pick the right rental for you

Finding a one-room rental in a shared apartment on Ziroom or 合租

At the top of the homepage, right below the ad banner, you will be presented with different rental options. The first option, 合租 hézū(circled in green), is for users looking to rent a room in a shared apartment, as opposed to an entire apartment unit. Ziroom’s 合租 would be ideal for anyone on a low budget or who doesn’t need an entire apartment to themselves, and for those who seek to make some Chinese friends. Indeed, these shared apartments would often set you up with Chinese roommates, which would give you the perfect opportunity to practice your Chinese!


Alternatively, you may go for the “主卧独卫 zhǔ wò dú wèi” option instead for some additional comfort and still benefit from the Chinese skills-boosting perks of shared apartments.


To start browsing, tap the either the 合租 or the 主卧独卫 button, depending on your choice. From here, the most important thing is to select your intended move-in date by clicking on “入住日期 rùzhù rìqí”(in red, then type in the name of the area you’re looking to live in, such as 三里屯 or 海淀, in the field indicated in green.


If you wish, you may also click on “户型偏好 hùxíng piānhào” to narrow down your search with more filter options, such as 多卫生间 duō wèishēngjiān(multiple bathrooms), 独立卫生间 dúlì wèishēngjiān (private bathroom), 独立阳台 dúlì yángtái (private balcony), lease length- which ranges from 1 month (月租 yuè zū) to over a year (长租1年及以上 zhǎng zū yī nián jí yǐshàng), and monthly rent budget (租金预算 zūjīn yùsuàn).

hezu4 hezu5 hezu6

Once you’re all set, click on “搜索房源 sōusuǒ fáng yuán” to view the apartment listings. You'll quickly notice that for each listing, a bunch of information is provided, such as the room size, the floor, the direction the room faces, distance from the closest subway, available lease length, available move-in date, and the monthly rent fee.


Finding an entire apartment on Ziroom

If you’re looking to rent an apartment for two or for your entire family, go to the Ziroom and click on “整租1居 zhěng zū yī jū” for a one-bedroom apartment, or on “整租2-3居 zhěng zū liǎng dào sān jū” for a two or three-bedroom apartment. From here, all you need to do is select your preferred move-in date and type in the area in which you would like to reside. Of course, you can also set your budget, just as for shared apartments.

Finding a short lease rental on Ziroom

In Chinese, short lease rental is 短租 duǎn zū, so if you’re on the hunt for accommodation to rent for a few weeks to a couple of months, click on the “短租” button on the home screen. This would be perfect for anyone who has to wait for their long-term accommodation to be arranged by their school or employer.


On the next screen, you’ll find both shared apartments and whole apartments available for short-term rental. You also have the option to sort the listings by the duration of the lease, for example, less than a month, one to two months, two to four months, and so on.


In addition to the standard listing details, the Ziroom short lease rental listings will also display the date until which the rooms or apartments are available for rent.


Step 3: Schedule an apartment tour

This step is optional since the pictures provided by Ziroom look exactly like the rooms and apartments they offer, however, seeing the actual place in person comes a several advantages.

Firstly, visiting your future home will allow you to have a real-time understanding of certain details that photos cannot capture: Does the place smell like fresh paint? Do the doors and windows close properly or are they drafty?

Secondly, an apartment tour will not only allow you to see the community or 小区 xiǎoqū and get a feel of the neighborhood, but you will also be able to walk around and explore the greater area to have a better idea of what it may be like to live there. For instance, you could find out where the closest supermarket and pharmacy are, what restaurants are nearby and whether they are available for food delivery, whether there is a gym around or a park to walk your dog and go for a run, and lastly, are there loud businesses like bars and nightclubs that may affect your lifestyle? The answers to all these questions could play a part in your decision-making.

To schedule an apartment or room tour, first, you’ll need to add the chosen listing to the list of places you’d like to visit by tapping the “加入看房单 jiārù kàn fáng dān” at the bottom of the listing. Once you’ve done this, a prompt will generally pop up on your screen showing the earliest available time slot with a “去预约 qù yùyuē” button to proceed and schedule an appointment.

scheduletour1 scheduletour2

In some instances, for example, if you already have a few listings added to your “tour list”, the 加入看房单 might simply change to a “预约看房 yùyuē kàn fáng”.


    Tip: It is also highly recommended to add these listings to your favorites so that you can easily find them come judgment day. To do so, all you have to do is tap the small heart icon at the bottom of each listing that says “收藏 shōucáng”.


Now, whenever you’d like to access your wish list, you can go to 我的 on your home screen, and click on 收藏 to view all the listings you’ve saved as your favorites.


On the next screen, you will be required to provide

- the visitor’s name and Chinese phone number under “看房人 kàn fáng rén”;
- the tour method, either 实地看房 shídì kàn fáng(an on-site tour), or 视频看房 shìpín kàn fáng (a video tour) (obviously, you’d want to pick 实地看房);
- the time you’d like to visit the room/apartment under “看房时间 kàn fáng shíjiān”,
- and lastly any special requests under “看房需求 kàn fáng xūqiú”(here, you can tap “加我微信 jiā wǒ wēixìn” for the Ziroom to add you on WeChat.)

Once you’ve entered all this information, click on “确定预约 quèdìng yùyuē” to confirm your appointment.

schedule6 schedule7

    Tip: You may also add all the listings that catch your interest to your “tour list” without booking an appointment right away. If you wish, you may continue browsing and only book visits later. To do so, simply click on “看房单 kàn fáng dān” at the bottom of the Ziroom app home screen to access your tour list, then proceed as explained above to book your visit.


Step 4: Sign your lease

Hopefully, by now, you’ve had a chance to look at a few places that you’re interested in and weigh in their respective pros and cons. Assuming that you’ve come to a final decision on where you’d like to live next, go to your listing of choice and click on “立即签约 lìjí qiānyuē” to sign your lease.


You will be directed to a page where you’ll be required to provide some details and read some additional information before you can click on “我已确认,去签约 wǒ yǐ quèrèn, qù qiānyuē” to complete your contract.


    Note: There may be times when you’ll see a “立即预定 lìjí yùdìng” button instead of the 立即签约 lìjí qiānyuē mentioned above. This will allow you to book the accommodation but not sign your lease yet. In such cases, you’ll often be required to obtain a code from existing tenants in order to complete your booking.

signlease3 signlease4



Flexible payment plans: Ziroom offers flexible rent payment options, allowing you to choose from monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, or even annual payment schedules. It's important to note that your initial payment will encompass three components: the rent itself, a deposit equal to the rental fee, and a monthly service fee equivalent to 10% of the rent.

Convenient: A decade ago, the idea of "shopping" for apartments using nothing but a smartphone would have seemed far-fetched. Thanks to technological advancements, we've bid farewell to the days of trudging from one real estate agency to another, spending hours in search of the perfect apartment. With Ziroom, you can now gain a comprehensive understanding of any apartment you're considering right from the comfort of your own home. You only need to venture out for a physical visit once you're confident you've found a place that truly aligns with your preferences, saving you both time and effort.

Monthly housekeeping services: Ziroom extends the convenience of monthly cleaning services to all its tenants. It's important to note that these services primarily encompass basic "daily" cleaning rather than deep cleaning. However, based on our experience, the housekeepers consistently deliver excellent results. Should you desire a more thorough cleaning for your space, you have the option to schedule a paid deep cleaning session conveniently through the app.

WeChat contact: Ziroom provides you with a WeChat contact in case of emergencies.

Maintenance: Ziroom offers the convenience of scheduling maintenance services whenever minor repairs are required in your home. These services encompass mundane tasks like changing lightbulbs, addressing kitchen leaks, and resolving AC issues. It's important to note that such minor repairs are covered within the monthly service fee you pay. However, in the case of more complex repairs, you can typically request the assistance of a repairman through the app, albeit with additional fees applicable for these services.

Design: Ziroom apartments are thoughtfully furnished and decorated with a sleek, contemporary aesthetic before being made available for rent. Notably, these accommodations are equipped with cutting-edge features like smart locks and integrated smart home systems, elevating your living experience.


Not pet friendly: Drawing from our own experiences, it's important to note that Ziroom typically maintains a no-pets policy, particularly within shared apartments. However, even when renting an entire unit, Ziroom agents tend to discourage pet ownership without explicitly denying it. This approach creates a somewhat ambiguous situation, wherein tenants have the potential to keep pets in their Ziroom apartments, albeit at the risk of potentially forfeiting a significant portion of their deposit in the event of substantial damage caused by their animals. Interestingly, many tenants seem willing to accept this risk.

Poor aesthetic: Ziroom apartments are thoughtfully furnished, though it's worth noting that the interior design might resemble an IKEA catalog for some, complete with random artworks adorning the walls. Nevertheless, you have the creative freedom to reorganize and redesign your new living space, infusing it with your personal touch to create a cozier, more personalized atmosphere—just be mindful not to damage anything in the process.


1. Give yourself enough time.

As with any important quest, planning ahead and giving yourself enough time will help alleviate any potential stress. We recommend you give yourself at least a few weeks to find suitable housing as your schedule and that of existing tenants or the availability of the unit you’re interested in may get in the way.

2. Know what you’re looking for beforehand.

Knowing exactly what you want before you even begin your search will help make sure that you don’t overwhelm yourself with too many choices. So, decide what features you’re looking for in an apartment or a room, these can be things like the size, number of bedrooms, budget, etc… Bear in mind, online apartment hunting is a bit like online shopping on Taobao: the choices are endless, which means you can get easily get distracted by things you don’t even want and fall into the rabbit unless you know exactly what you want. When you start browsing, keep a shortlist of your faves based on those requirements to help you make your decision more easily.

3. Enlist the help of a Chinese friend.

Effectively using the Ziroom app and website necessitates a firm grasp of the Chinese language. While an HSK3 level might be adequate for basic browsing and apartment searches, it's essential to acknowledge that at some point, you'll likely find yourself needing to converse in Chinese with a local, whether it's a Ziroom agent or fellow tenants.

To mitigate any potential communication challenges, reaching out to a friend fluent in Chinese for assistance can prove immensely helpful. Additionally, it's worth contemplating enrolling in Chinese language classes (hint: Culture Yard offers online Chinese courses!) to enhance your proficiency. This proactive approach can be particularly valuable as it will equip you with the skills needed to effectively communicate with your Ziroom agent throughout your tenancy, and beyond.


How long does it take to find an apartment with a room?

Finding housing through Ziroom can take a few days to a month, depending on personal schedules and preferences. If you find yourself pressed for time or not overly particular about your housing requirements, it's entirely feasible to secure a place within a matter of days. On the other hand, individuals with more flexible timelines and a desire to explore a variety of options or have more sophisticated preferences might dedicate up to a month in their quest to discover the ideal apartment that perfectly suits their needs.

Why should you use the Chinese version and not the English version?

The main reason why we don’t recommend the English version of Ziroom stems from a concerning issue. Some tenants have reported that Ziroom agents, responsible for the apartments featured on the English platform, have occasionally conveyed to expatriate users that the desired housing options are unavailable to foreigners, instead recommending pricier alternatives. Nonetheless, if you're willing to accept this trade-off in the interest of convenience, we won't stand in your way!

How do I get a copy of my lease when renting through Ziroom?

Getting a copy of your lease is fairly easy. On your Ziroom app go to 我的>合同, then click on 合同; next locate 电子合同 on your screen, you’ll find the characters 查看 next to it; click on 查看>租房电子合同.

What’s included in the Ziroom service fee?

The Ziroom service fee includes free WIFI, monthly cleaning service, 7/11 maintenance, and a personal point of contact for emergencies.

What’s included in the Ziroom monthly housekeeping service?

Ziroom's comprehensive monthly housekeeping service covers a range of essential tasks to maintain your living space in pristine condition including dusting off all surfaces such as furniture, sinks, mirrors, kitchen counter, stove and stove hood, as well as sweeping and mopping floors in key areas the kitchen, bathroom, living room, dining room, bedrooms, and balcony. It does not consist of laundry, cooking, or cleaning the interior of your refrigerator, ceiling areas, windows, and lighting fixtures.

Does the rent cover utilities when renting through Ziroom?

No, the Ziroom rental fees do not cover utilities. You will have to pay for your water, power and gas by yourself. Always check with your Ziroom agent how to do that.

Are there other apps similar to Ziroom in China?

Yes, Lianjia and most other real estate companies have their own website and apps nowadays, however, Ziroom remains the most popular among foreigners in China.


Chinese character Pinyin Meaning
密码 Mìmǎ Password
验证码 Yànzhèng mǎ Verification code
注册 Zhùcè To register
同意 Tóngyì To agree
用户协议 Yònghù xiéyì User agreement
隐私政策 Yǐnsī zhèngcè Privacy policy
同意 《用户协议》和《隐私政策》 Tóngyì “yònghù xiéyì” hé “yǐnsī zhèngcè” Agree to the "User Agreement" and "Privacy Policy"
下一步 Xià yībù Next step
确认 Quèrèn To confirm
显示 Xiǎnshì To show, to dispay
完成并登录 Wánchéng bìng dēnglù Complete and log in
邮箱注册 Yóuxiāng zhùcè Email registration
我的 Wǒ de My, mine
首页 Shǒuyè Homepage
户型偏好 Hùxíng piānhào House type preference
入住日期 Rùzhù rìqí Check-in date
合租 Hézū Co-tenancy
整租 Zhěng zū Entire unit rental
短租 Duǎn zū Short lease
主卧独卫 Zhǔ wò dú wèi Master bedroom with private bathroom
多卫生间 Duō wèishēngjiān Multiple bathroom
独立卫生间 Dúlì wèishēngjiān Private bathroom
独立阳台 Dúlì yángtái Private balcony
月租 Yuè zū Monthly rental
长租 Chǎng zū Long term lease
租金 Zūjīn Rent
预算 Yùsuàn Budget
搜素房源 Sōu sù fáng yuán Search estate
居(measure word) Yī jū Bedroom
小区 Xiǎoqū Residential community
加入看房单 Jiārù kàn fáng dān Add to viewing list
去预约 Qù yùyuē Make an appointment
预约 Yùyuē To book, to reserve
看房 Kàn fáng To view a house
预约看房 Yùyuē kàn fáng Make an appointment to view a house
收藏 Shōucáng To collect, to save (favorites)
看房人 Kàn fáng rén House visitor
实地看房 Shídì kàn fáng On-site house visit
视频看房 Shìpín kàn fáng Virtual house visit
看房时间 Kàn fáng shíjiān Time of house tour
看房需求 Kàn fáng xūqiú House tour requests
加我微信 Jiā wǒ wēixìn Add me on WeChat
确定预约 Quèrèn yùyuē Confirm reservation
立即 Lìjí Immediately
立即签约 Lìjí qiānyuē Sign lease now
立即预定 Lìjí yùdìng Book now


In closing, Ziroom brings unprecedented convenience to apartment hunting in China, allowing its users to secure their ideal living space right at their fingertips. Armed with the insights shared in this guide, you're well-equipped to make the most of Ziroom's offerings, taking the stress off of your apartment search.

About the Author

Juli Mboty has called China home for over 12 years where she became passionate about the Chinese culture, language, and history.

Juli Author Culture Yard