After over 13 years in Beijing and Shanghai I felt it was time for a change of scenery. So over the past year Grace and I started looking for a new place to relocate to with the family. My time in China was fantastic, better than I could have imagined when I moved here as a 27-year old expat for Daimler. But over the past years I realized that China was changing and that I had changed as well.
Our main criteria for a new home were based on a different lifestyle for the family: a place with more nature around us, with a better air quality and where I would not have to work 24/7 anymore. We made a shortlist that included among other San Francisco (USA), Auckland (New Zealand) and the south of France, but after spending a week in Vancouver last August we eventually decided that would be our preferred place to settle down.
We applied for immigration in early November, got our visa approved in early December, bought a house in early January, arranged cars, schools and furniture in early February and a couple of hours ago the whole family took a one-way airplane trip from Shanghai to Vancouver. We are now somewhere above the Pacific flying towards a new life. Things moved very fast, because once I have made up my mind I don’t want to sit around but just move ahead.
The last weeks were extremely hectic, preparing for the move and saying goodbye to many of our business and personal friends in China. There was not enough time to see all of them personally, but luckily the Internet makes it easier to stay in touch and I am sure we will see most of them again in the future. We wound down most of our business activities over the past weeks as well, mainly changing directorships and shareholdings in companies. In hindsight we should have taken a few more weeks for everything (Grace told me so but I insisted to leave sooner rather than later).
Last Tuesday I had a farewell party at Spil Games Asia with some really touching speeches. I am normally not very emotional, but during that event I just managed to keep my eyes dry. This morning while saying goodbye to our staff and to Grace’s family at the airport even I had tears in my eyes. Partir c’est mourir un peu…
I will miss China. I will miss the fast-paced business life, the amazing clubs and restaurants in Shanghai, and the luxury of having staff at home to help you with everything. What I won’t miss is the air pollution (which was the #1 reason for us to leave), the traffic jams and the slow, restricted Internet. Every country has its advantages and disadvantages, and although the balance has shifted a bit recently the advantages of living in China have always outweighed the downsides for me. If it was purely for business reasons I would likely stay, but I have a family with 2 young kids now and I also need to think of them.
Luckily I will still be back regularly for projects and investments. In Vancouver I joined a venture capital fund (CrossPacific Capital, see www.xpcp.ca) that invests mainly in Canadian/North American companies and actively helps them to expand to Asia. This fits my experience as entrepreneur and investor in China and I look forward to my new role. More about this in a later post.
As for this blog, I plan to keep on writing it although the focus will likely shift to my new life(style) in Canada. But I will closely keep following what happens in China, so I expect that there will be regular posts on that topic as well. I look forward to my new life in Canada and I hope all of you will keep following me here.