At the university in China where I taught, foreign students, foreign teachers, and employees lived in apartment buildings.  If you were fortunate enough to be a high ranking employee or someone with many years of service, then you would be permitted to have a first floor apartment.  There were some noticeable benefits of a first floor apartment besides not having to walk up the stairs.  And to answer your question, no, we didn’t have elevators.  su

Some nice features of a first floor apartment included a courtyard behind your apartment that was yours and you received a storage unit.  The storage units had no electricity, water, or heat. They were just concrete walls with a roof.  To my surprise I found that some people tried to rent their storage units, not for storage, but for a home!  The university frowned on this, so they made a rule that all of the units had to be locked at night, and the security guards that patrolled at night would check the units to make sure they were locked.  Some college students were so desperate to get away from the crowded dorms they would still rent the units knowing they would be locked in at night.  Did I mention they had no electricity, water, or heat?  The owner would probably be the person that locked them in at night, but the renter had to make sure they had someone to unlockthe door in the mornings.  My greatest fear was that there would be a fire and the tenants would be locked inside!

Another option some people chose with their storage units was to turn them into a small shop.  Many sold snacks or home made tofu from their units, and these were usually a great place for friends to gather.  You could always come across a card game, board game, or chit chat when going by the storage units that were open to the public.su2

Some people would paint the exteriors of their units, and they looked much nicer than the ones that were not painted.  I lived in the north east section of the campus, and nobody in that area decorated their units, so our area didn’t look as nice as others.