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An Expat Talks about Moving to Beijing , China

Oct 16, 2017


Beijing, China

An expat in Beijing advises newcomers to bring shoes (especially if they were larger sizes), a first aid kit and to install a VPN on your computer and phone before you move to China. He explains that you'll need a lot of cash on hand initially since most apartments require 3-month initial payment plus a 1-month deposit. When deciding where to live in Beijing, make sure you live close to work to avoid spending your life in traffic.

What is the name of the city or town that you are reporting on?


Name three things that you wish you had brought and three you wish you had left at home.

Men's Shoes in China: If you are a size 11 or larger you'll find it difficult to find quality men's shoes here.

Over the counter medications in China: It's difficult to find simple brands that you know in Chinese shops like Pepto-Bismol, Nyquil, etc. If you have some brands that you rely on, bring those. I also recommend bringing a First Aid Kit as it is just a good idea to have on hand!

VPN: Most Western Internet sites are blocked here. You want to pre-install a VPN on your computer and phone before you arrive in China. If you don't, the initial days here will be confusing.

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What advice would you give someone preparing to move to your area about the actual move, choosing a neighborhood and finding a home?

Be patient and have a lot of cash on hand! Apartments in north China require an initial payment of 3 months and 1-month deposit. That is a lot of money to spend at the beginning. Everyone should arrive in Beijing with at least a minimum of $5,000 USD for start-up costs. The best way to find an apartment is to ask a colleague which realtors they used!

What type of housing do you live in? Is this typical for most expats in your area?

Pretty much everyone here lives in apartments in big buildings. Some families may choose to live in villas in the Shunyi area, but everyone else is in apartments. Apartments in Beijing tend to be older but they are all furnished and safe. Decorations can be a bit underwhelming so you'll want to invest in some plants, paintings and other things to make your home warm.

How did you choose your neighborhood and find your home or apartment?

Beijing is a HUGE city and you want to live near where you work. You'll hate life if you have to commute a long time on the subways - which is insanely crowded during rush hours. I work in the CBD so I got an apartment that is about a 30-minute walk from home or a 5-minute ride on the bus.

Are your housing costs higher or lower than they were in your home country? What is the average cost of housing there?

Housing in Beijing is expensive. I would estimate that most expats are spending at least $1,000 USD a month on their housing. The further from the city center, the cheaper. Roommates are also an option to cut costs.

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