Are you planning to become a Beijing Expat? Maybe you are already in Beijing and are looking for more info on life in China’s capital?

The Beijing Expat Guide provides great information and resources for new or soon-to-be Beijing expats. But even if you have been in Beijing for a while already, you may still find some useful new info and maybe want to contribute your own experiences.

Beijing Expat Guide - Moving to ChinaWe, my husband and I, moved to Beijing from the US in 2011. This was not our first international move, and it will not be our last. The way we move across countries, actually continents, is pretty much on our own, without the support of a big company that sends us on an all-expenses-paid 3-year assignment with return ticket. We do our own research and figure things out by just doing them, finding help independently when we need it.

By now we have settled in and learned a lot about life in Beijing. One thing we learned is that there are many resources available but not one single place to find everything you need to know when starting out in Beijing.

Often, more general info was easy to find. As we got the basics covered and ventured out more and more, we searched for more specific things. Like where to buy Thai basil and lemon grass in Beijing, how to use the bus system, what taxes to pay, etc., just the everyday normal life stuff that travel guides and relocation sites usually don’t cover. Stuff that you sometimes find in a great blog or buried in an expat forum or magazine. With this website I want to share what we have learned and make it easier for others making the move to Beijing.

Of course our insights are very much influenced by our chosen life style, which emphasizes local experiences. They are likely different from someone who lives in an expat complex and has a car with driver. Leaving the “expat bubble”, as a friend who lives in the “bubble” himself called it, can make for a great experience. Just give it a try.

You get your very first impression of Beijing probably when you arrive at its capital airport. Its airport code PEK is based on the old previously commonly used name Peking, as it is still called in some European countries. We thought this code is a fitting icon for our website link.

The Beijing Expat Guide

The structure of this site follows along the key stages everyone goes through when moving to a new place:

  • Understand Preparation & Money to get ready for the move
  • Learn about Housing & Transportation to get you settled
  • Dive into Daily Life in Beijing
  • Gain insights about cultural differences for Work in China
  • Learn Mandarin to make daily life easier (not really a separate step but helpful along the way).

Click on each section header to learn more.

Preparation & Money

Making the move from a Western country to a city of over 20 million in China is a huge change, even if you have moved to other countries and experienced different cultures before. A change like this may teach you things about yourself you weren’t aware of before (it definitely did for us). This section helps you to explore what to expect and potential challenges to help make the move successful.

Before moving to Beijing, or even before making the decision to do so, you will likely have many practical questions. You came to the right place! This section also addresses practical topics you may want to consider ahead of time – air pollution, healthcarewhat to bring, banking for expats, how to stay on top of your income taxes while abroad, how to stay connected, and more (besides all the obvious: packing).

Housing & Transportation

Once you arrived in Beijing, you will set up your new life and settle in. This section helps you with that. It provides insights on what to consider when looking for a place to live and info on practical matters such as utilities and mail. Here you also find practical guides to transportation in Beijing and how to use subway, buses, taxis.

Daily Life

This section of the website covers every day activities like shopping, eating and having fun. That sounds simple, huh? Well, with the right info it is! Find out where to go for western groceries, tips for eating out in Chinese restaurants, and more. Also read about the people you will encounter here, both Chinese and expats, and challenges you may face.


Most people come to Beijing because of their work, or the work of their spouse. This section explores the effect of Chinese culture in the workplace and other aspects of working in Beijing.


Chinese language skills, at least on a basic level, can make everyday life much easier and the experience of living in China much more fun. In this section you can read about the challenges of learning Chinese and find some helpful tools.

You can also search the site using the search box or browse through the categories listed on the left hand side.

We are still learning new things about life in Beijing every week, and you will continue to see this site expand. Please check back often for new content. And please let me know with your comments or contact me directly if you have questions or suggestions for additional topics.

CityWeekend Beijing expat magazine

China’s leading English-language lifestyle and entertainment magazine and website called the Beijing Expat Guide a “wonderful blog by expats for expats

InterNations Beijing expats featured blogRecommended Expat Blog by InterNations, the largest global expat network with over 1 million members worldwide and more than 500 members in Beijing

Also featured by:
Russian TV news station       ExpatsBlog.com - Where Expats Blog       Expat Beijing

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Home — 24 Comments


  2. I have a group of 15 college students that are interested in touring the Forbidden City. Does anyone know of a local, enthusiastic and informative tour guide that you would recommend?

    • April, you may want to check out Beijing by Heart. I met both co-founders of this small company, they are energetic, fun and very knowledgeable about Beijing. They organize walking tours and customized visits of Beijing’s sites.

  3. hello !
    i am interested in knowing more about Beijing.
    i am french, art director of http://www.laplantation.cn
    in Beijing Chaoyang, near the red brick museum and the Orchard restaurant.
    do you know some other interesting places nearby ?
    ps : philippe2046 is my personal wechat
    chineseliving on wechat is about learning tea, incense, flower art ,guqin and calligraphy here, in case of …

    • Hi Philippe and Gina , hope you are enjoying living in Beijing! And Gina, I hope you don’t mind me borrowing your platform to send a message like this. :)

      It is a bit random but I am trying to reach to the expat community in Beijing for a market research. I am currently based in Hong Kong so searching on the Internet and messaging people randomly is my only choice right now…

      I would greatly appreciate if you could help me complete the survey below, it will only take you 3 minutes if not less. It is a market research in regards to yoga studio targeted to expats living/working in/near the CBD area in Beijing. It would be even greater if you could maybe ask your colleagues to give it a go if it is not too much hassle for you. :)

      Anyways the link is as below:
      and if anyone needs a Chinese version of the survey, link is below:

      Thanks in advance, appreciate any help!

      • Hi Xing, I don’t live in your target area but am happy to leave the info up for other expats. Best of luck with the survey.

  4. Thankyou for your most helpful site . My daughter will be studying abroad in Beijing next month. I am concerned about her safety especially her groups travel across the Silk Road. Any extra advice for a 20 year old that does not speak chinese yet?

    • Happy to hear you find my site helpful, Laurie.
      Overall, China and Beijing feels like a very safe place. My post here about safety looks at it from several perspectives. But as in every tourist place, there are scammers in China. Most are run by people posing as students, who want to practice their English and try to lure you into an expensive tea house, where you are expected to pay the inflated bill. Or artists, who try to get you to follow them to some gallery. Best approach is to just ignore those scam artists. Or tell them in Chinese that you don’t want: “Bu yao!” Make the “yao” sound like you are stomping your foot, and you’ll get the tone right ;)

  5. Thanks for your blog. We are planning on moving to Beijing in a year or so. I’ve been offered a teaching position. I will be bring my husband and three girls whom we’ve adopted from different parts in China. Between taking my TEFL course and learning Mandarin, I will be soaking up all your wisdom. My first question would be, how can you blog from China? When I was there last year I couldn’t get access to my blog as well as other social media. Thank you again for sharing.

    • Hi Tamara,exciting plans you have, moving with your family to the origin of your daughters. All the best for that!
      Regarding your question re blogs in China. If you want to access a free blogging platform like Blogger, WordPress.com, Tumblr etc, and other social media in China you need VPN. Read more about VPN in this post. My website is accessible without VPN because it is not hosted on a free blogging platform. (I pay for hosting, so the ads and affiliate links on my site help with the cost :))

      • Thanks! I did find the VPN part after I asked you about it. I’m really enjoying your blog, very informative.

  6. Hi Gina,

    Loving the website and juicy info! Such a great resource for the waiguorens living in this wonderful city.

    I sent you an email but not sure if you received it. I’d like to discuss something with you if possible. When you receive this comment please let me know :)

    Xie xie!


    • Hi Chris, Thank you for your kind words. My apologies for not getting back to you per email yet. I will do that today.

  7. Fantastic idea, loved your page. I am seriously considering moving to Beijing for a teaching job, and I have 2 young girls, one is 11 and the other is 9. I am very concern about the pollution, how do you survive it? is it worth it to take the job and the risk of getting sick?

    • Thanks for your comment Lola. The pollution is a major concern for many foreigners, especially those with kids. I have two posts about the smog here and here. The myhealthbeijing website has more medical info on this topic. At the end, I think this is a very personal decision that only you can make.

  8. Hi! I’m moving to Beijing in January and I’ve just come across this website. I just want to say THANK YOU! Great idea about creating something stuffed with such amount of useful information. :)

    • Hi Patrycja, Welcome on this site, and soon to Beijing. I’m happy to hear you find my website helpful. If you have any specific questions that I have not covered (yet), please feel free to ask me.

  9. Sorry to be niggly, But your statement about the PEK being based on “the old name” for Beijing isn’t quite correct. You see Peking is still the name for Beijing in Cantonese. You could say it was the name the world used to use misguidedly.
    You see prior to China emerging from seclusion about 25 or so years ago the main point of contact the rest of the world had with Chinese people was Hong Kong and HKers who had emigrated overseas. HK people, being Cantonese speakers populated the world’s ears with the Cantonese word for Beijing, Peking. Just as they did for Nanjing, as Nanking. Bei means North as does Pei, Jing or King means Capital (city).
    Beijing means Northern capital, Nanjing, Southern capital and Dongjing (Mandarin for Tokyo), Eastern capital. (They considered Japan theirs a long long time ago when they had a big Navy).

    My two cents worth.


    • Hi Bob, Thanks for your 2 cents. Always welcome. I’m still learning new things about Beijing… So “old name” should rather read “previously commonly used name”

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