Shanghai and Beijing, China both attract a great number of expats – either venturing out in the world on their own volition, or sent by an international company of sorts. The cities have different vibes entirely, but Beijing certainly has the modern conveniences to accompany you’re every need much like the city of lights (Shanghai). You can expect very good hospitals, schools, international grocery stores, delivery, underground music scene, communities, etc. We stumbled upon a very cool series of alley ways near Bei Hei park (slightly northeast maybe 5 minutes walking) that had a mean neighborhood party in a courtyard going down on a Saturday afternoon. We were happy to take part in that!
Most helpful things to use in Beijing:
- The Beijinger – awesome publication that keeps you up on all events and news in the city
- Time Out – another publication that has great info
- Beijing Subway App – made by MX data
- Jenny Lou is an extensive international grocery store with an excellent selection
- Several restaurants/grocery stores provide delivery and beyond (sherpas, etc. – shown in an image attached above and discussed here)
- Ctrip – allows you to book hotels at a great low price and provides Chinese translation for taxi drivers
The two cities also suffer the same key issues that you’ll hear from every foreigner (although not enough to keep us foreigners away 🙂 )-
1. the almighty firewall (even more powerful than the Great Wall – it limits internet speed, at times shuts it down entirely, and always restricts access, with some 2600 sites blocked entirely)
2. Gray skies by way of pollution. The most downloaded app in the region is a pollution detection system that provides a current rating and information about the daily pollutant levels. One woman we spoke with literally did not take her baby outside for 3 months in Beijing, as levels were above 300.
Don’t get the wrong idea though, we haven’t worn a mask once and have had absolutely no issues. We still love China for everything else it brings to the table!