Most expats will have had the chance to visit at least one major international city in their lifetimes and many will spend a considerable amount of their time in and around cities as they develop their careers. You may find that you can relax perfectly well in a city, or that you can’t relax at all, and that the pace of life in the country is more in line with your preferred lifestyle.
Beijing is one of the world’s largest metropolitan areas but as well as being hectic, crowded, and polluted it features some of China’s most historic landmarks. In this respect, and to quote Daniel Garst writing for China Daily, it “provides foreign residents with excellent windows into both China's ancient past and rapid and amazing ongoing modernization”. For this particular expat, at least, this is one of the factors that makes Beijing “hands-down China’s best city for expats”.
It makes sense that the Chinese capital contains a wealth of business opportunities and a lively cultural and literary scene too, which all contribute to a unique offer for expats. However, Daniel concedes that it is not the most liveable city in China. This shows a recognition that quality of life or liveability of a place is not the be-all-and-end-all – it really depends what you’re after.
Last year expats pointed out in the Expat Explorer survey that while the quality of life in UK ranked poorly compared to many countries, the entertainment scene was top-notch. This makes sense given that much of the expat population is centred around London. Have your say again this year and lets go into more detail on what attracts you to the cities, or the countryside, where you live.