Friday, 17 January 2014

Living and working in Beijing

Image Source: Creative Common/ahenobarbus
Beijing is famous for its beautiful architecture, ancient temples and luxurious palaces, but it’s also a modern buzzing city which provides many opportunities for expats.

Indeed, the city has been drawing in expats for years. They are often transferred by their companies but find the city to be a great place to live and work.

So, what should you be thinking about before moving to Beijing? 

Deciding where to live in Beijing can be quite a daunting prospect. Its sprawling size and huge population mean that there are many types of accommodation, as well as neighbourhood options. There are certain key things that all new residents should be aware of and take into consideration when deciding the place that they will call home.

As it is such a big city, getting from one end to another can take some time no matter what mode of transport you take, so, if you’re conscious of the commute, try to live fairly near to your place of work, or,  if you are to rely on public transport, look for a place that is walking distance to the subway.

If you’re keen to live among other expats then consider living in an area such as the Chaoyang district or in Shunyi (a bit further out from the centre) where there are high concentrations of foreigners and a lot of expat amenities such as western supermarkets, for those little touches of home.

Some expats will choose to live in traditional Beijing houses called Hutongs. Hutongs are single story properties arranged on narrow alleys around communal courtyards. While you can come across cheaper hutongs, if you move into one which is fully modernised and equipped for living, they tend to come at a premium, being highly sought after and in limited numbers. Even if you do not plan on living in one, it’s worth taking a tour around them, either by food or rickshaw, as they are deeply rooted in Beijing’s culture and so will be a great way to begin your expat immersion.  

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