Moving to Suburbia

When I arrived in China many years ago I deliberately decided not to live in one of the compounds in Shunyi (close to Beijing airport) where most of my colleagues had their villas. I took an apartment close to the Second Ring Road (at the then brand-new East Gate Plaza) and have lived in the city center of Beijing and later Shanghai during my whole stay in China. I never thought I would ever move to the suburbs, it’s just too convenient to be able to have shopping malls and restaurants within walking distance.

But having a baby boy changes everything: with an additional full-time nanny, a 6-days a week ayi plus more longer-staying family members suddenly our 4-bedroom apartment is getting too small. And with a child we want to have a garden instead of just a balcony. So about two months ago we started looking for a villa and found a suitable one quite quickly. It was a 400+ sqm villa in the Hongqiao Golf Villas compound, and we planned to move in two weeks ago.

But a few days before moving there were some complications: the house was not renovated yet, the landlord was avoiding us for unknown reasons and when we managed to get in touch with her she was extremely arrogant, hang up on my wife and seemed to be looking for a way out of the contract. Eventually we decided this would not work, so we canceled the house contract, informed our moving company, and were lucky to be able to stay a few more weeks in our current apartment.

We went looking for houses again like crazy, and last week finally found a nice villa where we could move in quickly (see picture). A bit more expensive than originally planned, but I was so fed up with the time it takes to look at houses plus we really liked this house and compound, so we decided to go for it. We will move in this Friday already.

From then on I will be living in Suburbia, something I always dreaded. But now I am actually looking forward to it. It will be very quiet, I will be able to have breakfast outside in the garden and I will also have my own gym at home. The commute to work will be longer however, which is the biggest downside. All in all I look forward to living in the suburbs, I suppose I am getting older…

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  1. You’re not getting older, your old apartment was 🙂

    Great looking villa, I envy you!

  2. I understand your situation, but wouldn’t it, financially, be wiser to wait a little while longer? Houseprices in Shenzhen have been dropping like crazy and last thing I read was that Shanghai was still stable? I assume it’s still waiting to come down there?

    Besides that, beautiful house. Feels a bit like Mediterranean style to me.

  3. Ah, and another question. How do you feel about Chinese family-members living with you? I know it’s Chinese custom that, especially after a baby is born, the parents of the mother move in and take care of the baby and so. I personally do not look forward to that haha 🙂

  4. Hope you have better running place
    where you’re moving. When I lived
    downtown the running was terrible
    compared to the burbs where we
    are now.

    Our 8 year old son now has many
    more friends around too – Birthday
    parties on the lawn, tennis at
    Shanghai Racquet Club, etc.

  5. Congrats on the move!
    Couple things to consider out in the burbs:
    – 100 bucks says there will be a funky smell coming up from the drain in the bathroom. Developers never seem to notice that one.
    – watch out for those desperate housewives!

  6. @Thijs(Shenzhen) Not sure if house prices in this segment will come down as well. There are still more foreigners arriving in China than leaving, and also more Chinese can afford high-end housing. But it doesn’t matter because I decided to rent instead of buy. Even though I likely will stay in China for at least several years I always want to be able to leave. That might change as well (getting older!), so who know what I’ll do in 2 years or so.

    With regards to visiting family, we indeed have people over for extended periods of time. I am not home much, so it doesn’t bother me too much and they save us a lot of trouble by taking care of Scott together with the nanny. So for me it’s not as big a deal as I thought. Now that we have our house I have my own floor, so we hardly see eachother.

    @Bill I have my own running machine now, which is great. And last night I went for run in the neighborhood, which was quite nice actually. Air seems to be better than in downtown.

    @Corbett I am never at home during daytime, so I’ll miss the desperate housewives.
    And he funky smell luckily has not appeared so far (knock wood)!

  7. My wife and I and relatives in US
    are signed up for Nike’s “Human Race” 10K at end of month. If you’re not
    aware of it you might want to check
    it out – very interesting concept for
    a “race” – all over the world – 25 cities or put a chip in your shoe and
    run anywhere.