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I am moving to China (Beijing)!!

(11 Posts)
GetmemyPassport Mon 04-Feb-13 14:01:35

DH and DC will be off this summer. Would anyone care to share their experiences of living in China and Beijing in particular? Any tips gratefully received.

Missymoomum Tue 05-Feb-13 13:27:35

Hi, posted this on another recent post about Beijing so i've copied and pasted. Sorry i know that a bit lazy but let me know if you'd like to know any further info:

I live in Beijing and have done for the last 2 and a bit years. I have 2 children 6 & 4. The pollution isn't great and it is the one thing i hate about being here but other than that, it is a pretty good life ( we should have only been here for 2 years and therefore should have left by now but have extended for another 2 years). The American Embassy monitor the pollution everyday and the schools follow this reading so on bad days the children don't play outside. We have air purifiers in every room in the house and on really bad days we just stay indoors. The bonus of compound living is that the clubhouse tends to have an indoor pool so that's always something to help get them out of the hosue! We live in one of the many expat compounds out in the suburbs but you can also live downtown in an apartment. It depends on the kind of lifestyle you're looking for. We wanted a garden because of the age of our children, so immediately discounted downtown. Also, a lot of the main international schools are based out in Shunyi so that was another factor. When we arrived my DS was 3.5 and i was able to put him in nursery 5 mornings a week so he could carry on his preschool education and my DD was also able to go a couple of mornings a week. The British School of Beijing and Dulwich College follow the Early Years Foundation Stage and English National Curriculum so if you're wanting to return to the UK in the future it is useful for continuity in education. BSB are flexible with the hours that preschoolers attend, but Dulwich only allow full time once the child turns 3.
Beijing will be extremely different to how it would have been 10 years and there are expat supermarkets etc all over the place now and you can generally get most things here now although food is generally more expensive here (some things you would need to bring with you eg teabags, bisto etc!)

What will your husband be doing? Will be working with an international company on an expat package? If you're funding it yourself you will probably struggle to get somewhere in one of the expat compounds as they are ridiculously expensive as are international school fees so that is definitely something to think about although are some cheaper bilingual schools downtown which are supposed to be good.

I hope this helps. I can write a whole lot more but it will be an essay. If you have any more specific questions then let me know! Or PM me but i'm not very good at remembering to check if i have any messages!!

flowerpowergirl Sat 09-Feb-13 21:36:12

Hi, it was great to find this thread as we are also considering a move to Beijing and are trying to organise a visit in the next month or so to help us decide. Do you have any advice about what we need to see when we come over? We are busy researching areas to live, schools (children 7 & 9), commute. Anything else? Also we are v worried about the pollution. We have researched it online but it would be great to hear what its actually like day to day eg how often are the kids kept in, is it any different in say shunyi compared to downtown? Do people wear masks? I'd be grateful for any advice..... Thanks.

flowerpowergirl Sat 09-Feb-13 22:11:06

Oh and our daughter has a nut allergy which I am really worried about in terms of eating out in China with all the groundnut oil etc. Are there any reliable restaurants where you could completely trust them if they promised nut free? Or do we completely avoid eating out for 2 years? Thanks again..!

GetmemyPassport Wed 13-Feb-13 10:22:15

Thank you Missy. We will be provided with schooling and accommodation, but I am not sure where yet.
It seems like we will be able to save a fair whack every month. How easy is it to transfer money abroad from China?
Could you recommend a shipping company?

Shanghaidiva Sun 17-Feb-13 08:02:27

Flowerpower - some people do were masks but it is a waste of time and pollution is bad in Beijing.
Get - you can transfer money from china easily, however the amount you can send each time is capped (20K sterling, I think).

Missymoomum Mon 18-Feb-13 03:43:38

Hi, glad i could help. Generally there aren't that many days when the pollution is dire, January this year was very unique in the fact that i think about half of the days were awful whereas normaly you would probably just get a handful of bad days. At this time of the year it is because of the run up to Chinese New Year and the factories are on overdrive before shutting down for a week. Also because it's really cold everyone has their fires going! This isn't to say that on the other days that the air is fine, there is still a lot of pollution compared to the UK but you kind of get used to it and even when the the air quality index reads 160, for example, you do think 'ooh that isn't bad'! (anything over 100 in the UK would be a national crisis)!! The average daily reading, i would say, is between 100 - 200. You tend not to notice it too because when you look outside it doesn't look too bad at these readings and most of the time it is sunny here, even in the winter so that is really nice. If you have a grey day it's usually down to the air quality lol! Shunyi is generally the same as downtown. As Shanghaidiva has said you can get masks but they are a waste of time really. We just don't go out if we're at home on really bad days and at school, the children also don't get outdoor play. Air purifiers in the home would be a better investment.

When you come out for your look-see, if you are not sure on whether you want to live downtown or Shunyi, then i would have a look at both, although it will depend on how long you will have out here. Have a think about what curriculum you want your children to follow, eg English national curriculum or other , this link here should be very helpful in giving you an insight to what's available (there is a lot of choice!) and then look for housing compounds close to the school of your choice - Beijing is HUGE and what may seem like close by on a map could take a long time to get to particularly at rush hour times. Other than that, go out and get a feel of the city, check out some of the expat supermarkets - either 'Jenny's' or 'Jenny Wang's' , a shopping centre like Solana, Sanlitun an area of downtown is lovely and has some great restaurants and bars (although some not so great at night time iykwim) and shops and I always think the city has an amazing feel at night (not that i go out that often!).

You can transfer money but not sure of the amount, 20K seems a bit high to me from what i can remember, but i'm not an expert as we're paid in the GBP.

Re. nuts, I knew a lady here with a son who was extremely allergic to nuts and they had to be VERY careful but generally they were fine and as far as i am aware they did eat out. You would have to make sure you go to restaurants that cater for Westerners and that can speak English so that you can communicate your wishes. You will need to make sure you carry an epi pen with you at all times just in case but as a reassurance there are some very good hospitals and medical clinics here. Oh and also you will need to bring spare epi pens with you too as they are not available at all in China as there is no license for them.

Sorry for another essay, hope this is of use. Let me know when you're over on your look-see flowerpowergirl.

flowerpowergirl Wed 27-Feb-13 14:21:33

Hi, Missy - I have PM you, hope thats OK. Thanks for all the helpful comments everyone. Get - sorry for taking over yr post...good luck with your decisions!

Missymoomum Wed 06-Mar-13 02:59:41

Hi FPG, i've just PM'ed you back, sorry i didn't pick the message up sooner and missed you while you were here! Hope it went well.

GetmemyPassport Thu 02-May-13 13:40:31

Hi there,
I am back for more questions, here goes:
What sort of stuff did you wish you had taken with you and what stuff did you think it was a waste of time to have them shipped?
Is it a crazy idea to ship out my bread maker? Will I find bread flour and yeast?
Some people have mentioned difficult access to cosmetic products, is that right?
I think we will be staying in the Chaoyang district if it rings a bell?

Shanghaidiva Fri 03-May-13 10:03:32

My answers I based on where I live, but have no doubt that finding certain products is easier in Beijing!
Bread - bread flour available and dried yeast too. Have not seen fresh where I live. You are wise to make your own. Chinese bread seems to be made of cardboard and sugar.
Cosmetic products - all top brands are available here, but are more expensive than Europe. The main difficulty is getting foundation type products for non-asian skin as most of the products sold tend to have bleaching/whitening agents in them.
Things I ask visitors to bring out or bring back from Europe:
food - golden syrup, cake decorations (dd really into decorating fairy cakes), stock cubes, cadbury's chocolate
I would bring - otc medicines e.g calpol or similar, decent first aid kit, suntan cream (again most here seems to have a whitening agent), hair dye (if you need it - imported colours are very expensive and I would not use a local brand), stock up on shoes if you have wide feet or are larger than a size 5, birthday cards (have yet to find a decent card here), bras (depending on your size).
Also eat chicken while you can :P

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