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.
We, that is 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
oldpreviously 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.
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, healthcare, what 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).
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.
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.
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.