Living In Beijing’s Hutong

Leaves in the Hutong
Leaves in the Hutong

Hi Guys- want to know where we live now? Well- some of you guessed it! After my recent post on getting kicked out of our apartment– a few of you guessed where would be moving to. Well done Vanessa and Rebecca who guessed we would be moving to one of the Hutong areas in Beijing! 

After looking at so many places, we decided this hutong house was the one as soon as we saw it (actually I decided from the photos Justin took as he saw it while I was at work! I did go to check it myself later just to confirm). Living in a real hutong house is a dream come true for us.

Glimpse of the living area- yes that is a cushion cover saying 'namaste bitches'. I got it in Ubud and haven't found a cushion for it haha!
Glimpse of the living area- yes that is a cushion cover saying ‘namaste bitches’. I got it in Ubud and haven’t found a cushion for it haha!
Entrance to our pat of the hutong
Entrance to our part of the hutong

The hutong areas are the traditional parts of Beijing. We are in a tiny, winding little neighbourhood with our own private courtyard! Unlike many of our neighbours (who have pointed this fact out to us!), we DO have a private bathroom. Every morning I see my neighbours heading out of their houses, with tissues, to use the public restrooms!

Our new place is completely different to our old one! The last one was a dreamy city pad on the 26th floor with floor to ceiling windows. This one is like a traditional little cottage with small windows and interesting features. Even though I think it always looks a bit messy because it is just a tiny little place, we only have one hob to cook on and the shower is too close to the toilet, I just LOVE it! My heart sings every morning when I walk though the neighbourhood to catch my ride to school. Aside from people scurrying to the bathroom, people are riding their bikes to work or school, outdoor stalls are selling Chinese style breakfast and there is just such an interesting, busy atmosphere! I say “Ni Hao” to so many people each day now!

Hutong Neighbourhood
Hutong Neighbourhood
Hutong in the evening
Hutong in the evening

At night it is pitch black (I now have a small torch as a keyring!) and absolutely silent! I sleep so well. The best part is, not only do we get to experience a local, traditional neighbourhood but we are just a few minutes walk from the many gorgeous cafes and shops in Gulou and Beiluoguxiang. It’s less than 10 minutes walk to the famous drum and bell tower, 25 minutes walk to the Forbidden City and only around a 15 minute walk to my beloved Lama Temple. We couldn’t have dreamed of a better location. If ever there was a silver lining to getting kicked out of our place it is landing that elusive, perfect hutong place!

Living area- dining and work area is behind!
Living area- dining and work area is behind!
Boot rack and front door..
Boot rack and front door..
How cute is the wallpaper in our bedroom?
How cute is the wallpaper in our bedroom? Those Muji sheets are so comfy by the way!
Part of our private courtyard. Looking forward to doing up the garden when Spring comes!
Part of our private courtyard. Looking forward to doing up the garden when Spring comes!

Would you live in a hutong place? Or would you prefer the bright city lights of our old Sanlitun place?

PS- before we had to move, I wrote about my life in Beijing for Paper Planes Blog. Click here to read it.

Edit: You can read more about the neigbourhood in this post: here.

32 thoughts on “Living In Beijing’s Hutong

  1. I love your new apartment Joella! While I always love new, modern apartments, I have to say I would always prefer to live in a place that’s old and quirky. What a cool experience that you get to live in this historic area of Beijing. And the fact that you have your own courtyard is pretty spectacular!!

    1. Thank you! Yes it’s really different to the last place- a unique opportunity! I’m about 3 months into the second year of my 2 year contract. So nearly time to decide if I want to renew it or not (you have to decide really far in advance!)

  2. Oh my god, I can’t believe you’re living in the hutong area of Beijing! And just to confirm that’s an “oh my god that’s amazing” kind of reaction. I spent three months working in Beijing last year and spent quite a lot of time exploring the hutong areas. I’ve got to be honest, I didn’t immediately think “I’d love to live here” but it’s definitely going to be an incredible experience that not many people can say they’ve had – particularly if the government keep knocking them down! 🙁 Anyhow, talk about living like a local! Well done you for fully embracing the lifestyle of many Chinese for centuries (though not so much now) and I really hope you have to most amazing time there!

    1. Thank you so much Robert! I’ve always loved the hutong areas too so it is such an interesting experience! It really is great here and I feel like I’m experiencing much more than I did in my last apartment. Yes, it is such a shame they keep knocking the hutong areas down. I hope they don’t eventually knock them all down and just build fake ones for tourists to visit but not for people to live in (I have a feeling that is going to happen eventually, sadly).

  3. This is so exciting! It looks beautiful! It sounds like a great opportunity to get to know the neighbours! I’m yet to see my apartment i’m moving into in Beijing but i’m excited to start making it my own!

  4. Wow this place looks amazing! I would definitely rather be somewhere this cute and homey rather than stuck in a big skyscraper! So happy that things worked out well for you 🙂

  5. Wow! How cool to live in a hutong!! It looks absolutely amazing on the inside but so traditional on the outside. I read years ago that a lot of the hutongs were being destroyed to make way for the construction of the 2008 summer games in Beijing but I am glad to hear that they survived the test of development and still exist. Hope you enjoy your new place!!

    1. Thank you! It is such a shame they knocked so many down (and still are knocking more down I think) but I agree, I’m so glad there are still plenty standing! We’re really enjoying it so far.

  6. You’re place is so cute! I’ll admit that it’s in much better shape than I was expecting. If only they could rehab more of the hutongs rather than just bulldoze them. It must be fascinating to experience life inside one! My China experience was much more sterile – upper floor of downtown apartment tower – and I feel like I missed out on some of the country’s charm.

    1. Thanks Heather! We are really glad we got to move here (even though having to leave our old place was stressful). It has opened up a different side of Beijing to us!

  7. Oh, I am jealous, Joella. I would so much love to live in a courtyard house in a Hutong in Beijing. The charm of these traditional districts totally hit me once again when I was recently there before heading on my journey along the Silk Road of China and also after returning to Beijing from Kashgar. I just got back home from China two weeks ago. I would so much love to live and work in Beijing, too, for six to twelve months next year and I would be happy if this comes true. Btw, the Lama temple is one of my favourite places in Beijing as well. Thank you so much for the link to my Blog.

  8. Wow that’s so interesting! I always wanted to know what it looked like inside one of those. I am enjoying your blog, as a short trip to Beijing was the motivation for me to start my own blog.

    1. Oh that’s great that Beijing was your motivation to start a blog! Sometimes I think I should invite tourists in to see my home because, unless you know someone who lives in one, it’s not easy to see what it’s like inside! 🙂

  9. Wow, so nice inside! I walked through a lot of hutong when I was in Beijing and didn’t think they would look anywhere near as nice as your place does. I would totally live on one, provided it was like yours and had a bathroom. There’s no way I could do the shared bathroom…plus you can smell them down the street 🙁

  10. What a great post! I just moved to Beijing and I’ve been looking for a hutong to live in near Lama Temple! How did you find your hutong? Did you see it on a website, or go through a realtor? Please help! lol

    1. Hi Brittnee. Sorry for the late reply to your comment. Have you found a place yet? We did use a realtor. We had multiple realtors on the hunt for us and it took a couple of weeks to find a hutong house we liked. We found the realtors either by recommendation from friends or by looking on websites like The Beijinger. Let me know how you get on!

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