It is now two months that I’ve lived in Beijing and I want to share some facts for people like me who would like to live in Beijing, and to discover China.
Where to live in Beijing?
Beijing is a huge city, with 23 million people. If you want to live in fairly international, friendly neighbourhoods, I recommend three locations…
Wu Dao Ku
Located a bit out of the city center, this area is a student corner. Some main universities in the city are there so the atmosphere is pretty cool and young. And most importantly, the rental prices are good – about 30 % cheaper than in Beijing center.
Between Chaoyangmen, where I live, surrounded by two sparkling buildings and Guomao street. The business district is a quiet and friendly neighbourhood, but expensive. It will cost at least 600-700 euros for a single studio apartment.
San Li Tun
Literally meaning three (san = 3) li (1 li = 500 meters) in Chinese, Sanlitun is located 1.5 km from the center. The place is full of shops (including an Apple Store), bars, restaurants and embassies. A nice place to live or for a night out.
Hutongs is the traditional quarter in Beijing, made of low houses and narrow streets. Usually hidden behind large modern avenues and endangered, some of these homes are destroyed for reasons of real estate speculation. The hutongs are generally cheap and some may have similar comfort to Western living standards. Admittedly, this kind of neighborhood is not very enticing. But insecurity is virtually nonexistent in Beijing, you can walk alone in the middle of the night safely, so there’s nothing to fear.
Have the cash in reserve
If you are looking for accommodation in Beijing, exception to the suburbs Wu Dao Kou and Hutong, rents are very expensive. 300-400€ is the kind of rental price for a shared room, or 600€ for a single studio. In addition, you pay three months in advance, plus one month deposit and one month for estate agency fee ( if you go through an agency). You should count on at least 1,000 euros in cash upon arriving in Beijing (€ 2,000 for comfort).
Here are some useful websites for your life in Beijing.
Thebeijinger.com : a very good site for everything. Find a job, teaching English classes, buy used furniture. The site is free and frequented primarily by English
Bonjourchine.com : A major French forum in China will give you all the answers to your questions. You can also offer trips to meet with French or English people living in Beijing.
Make Money in Beijing
A good way to make money quickly in Beijing is to teach a foreign language. Salaries are about 100 to 150 kuaïs /time (12 to 18 euros). This is a good salary when restaurant meals cost about 20 to 40 kuaïs per meal and a taxi is around 10-20 kuaïs. Apply for Jobs on The Beijinger site, you can quickly find many students as Chinese people want to learn English.
Note: 10 hours of classes per week to 100 individuals = 4000 kuaïs per month (about 500 euros). About the same as the salary of office workers in Beijing, or average rent for your apartment .
Transport in Beijing
Taxi drivers do not speak English. Learn basic Chinese to make them understand you. Smartphones with a translation tool can also be very handy. At times, you can’t find taxi’s in rush hour periods. Be active, when you see a free taxi, go for it. Otherwise if you go through an illegal taxi, negotiate the price for not being ripped off . For forgetting to negotiate before , pay 50 Kuais (6 euros) for 5 km to a fake taxi instead of 12-15 Kuais to the normal rate. Enquire about the distance in advance and the price of a taxi. For a rough gauge, 1 euro = 8.24 kuaïs.