Applicants on the standard placement will receive FREE accommodation for the duration of their placement provided directly by their placement school. In most cases, applicants will simply receive accommodation on-site at their placement school (a bit like university halls).
In a few circumstances (for a few of the placements in Beijing) applicants will instead receive a housing allowance. The housing allowance will be provided by the school and paid by the applicant. The allowance is enough to cover standard housing in the area of their placement school.
Applicants, in general, should have their utility bills covered directly by their school and will not have to manage any bills. Schools provide this up to a responsible limit (doesn't mean you can have your AC on 24/7). There may be a few exceptions to this for certain schools (for any applicants that are worried about this we can try to only place you in a school that is guaranteed to cover them).
Accommodation in a few schools has been known to lack either any internet or reliable high-speed internet. Applicants may need to purchase their own internet package for the year. Internet packages are quite straightforward to set up in China and can be done with help from the school. A good high-speed internet connection can cost around 300RMB a month (this can be shared if living with other teachers).
Accommodation that is provided by the school is almost always on-site/within walking distance of the school making it very convenient for getting between home and work. Schools in-general keep their foreign teachers together (similar to university halls) on the same floor/building so teachers don't have to feel alone while in China.
For those applicants that get an on-site accommodation experience, there is a small chance that it could include curfew. As schools in China are all closed off by fences with security some of the entrances/exits may close after a certain time in the evening (10-11PM). These means for those applicants they may need to come back before that time (else end up being locked out for the night). Applicants can discuss with their school during the application process if this is likely to be something that will affect them. Many teachers in the past have been able to negotiate to get the curfew removed.
A second possible thing to consider is if any applicants want a friend to visit them and stay with them they should contact the school far in advance to ask for their permission. Many schools do allow this and some in the past have even been known to pay for the teacher's friends travel in the city (a very nice gesture).
OUR PERSONAL TAKE
Applicants who choose the standard placement are likely to have an experience that closely resembles that of university halls. Accommodation will be near the school, if you are at a school with other teachers you are likely to be in the same hall and the rooms and feeling will resemble more of a dorm-like atmosphere. This is great for applicants that might be a little bit apprehensive about living and teaching in China (applicants tend to be more grouped on this option).
COST OF RENT
Applicants on the Pacican option will be expected to pay their own rent. The cost of renting will vary depending on the location, quality, and size of accommodation. In the downtown area, a shared apartment is likely to be around 2800-4000RMB per month (including all bills). Suburban areas may be lower than this per month. The deposit for a room for many agencies in Shanghai is 1.5x deposit and 1-months rent upfront.
Pacican will help all their applicants find accommodation during a special induction camp (once applicants arrive in Shanghai from the Beijing summer camp). We also have a number of housing agency contacts available to help our applicants find the right type of property for them. These agencies provide their contracts and maintenance support in English.
The utility bills that an applicant may be required to pay will be dependant on the agency that an applicant registers with. From our experience and through our contacts a single rental agreement will cover water, gas, internet, and communal cleaning. Applicants on one of these rental agreements may need to pay around 500-700RMB as a managing cost for the year (can be negotiated as with all things!). Electricity is usually between 50RMB and 150RMB per month (but will depend on your usage and the time of year).
Accommodation can be found across Shanghai and especially in the downtown districts where there is a larger foreign population. Having an applicant be able to choose their own accommodation provides applicants with a lot more flexibility in choosing an apartment that is right for them.
The possible downside about this is Pacican tends to not provide the exact school(s) an applicant will work at until near the start date and they only provide a general region. Some regions in Shanghai can be very big (especially Pudong!) which means that an applicant that chooses accommodation could still be some distance away from their school when they start.
OUR PERSONAL TAKE
Applicants who choose the Pacican placement for the most part (apart from a lucky few) will be living in a more homely environment and will have more freedom to choose the type of accommodation that they would like. Applicants will be in-charge of finding their accommodation and paying their bills and may be more likely to share accommodation with strangers. This is better for applicants who are more confident living on their own. That's not to say that applicants may not choose to find accommodation (if they are placed in a nearby district to each other OR applicants may choose to live together and commute further distances to live with friends).