Shanghai is an inspiring and exciting city in which to live. Located in the delta of the mighty Yangtze River, approximately equidistant to Beijing and Hong Kong, Shanghai has been growing from a small market town in imperial China to a twenty-first century megalopolis. Shanghai is spearheading China’s rapid business development. As well as being one of China’s most significant industrial centres, Shanghai is home to China’s main stock exchange with a strong emphasis on the high-tech industry and services sector.
When its vibrant economy is taken alongside the City’s beauty and history, it is unsurprising that Shanghai is one of the world’s most attractive and popular destinations for expats. The writer Kate Morgan sums up the charm, thrill and variety of Shanghai in a paragraph that captures some of the essence of the city.
‘From the architectural landmarks lining the Bund and the rickety charm of the Old Town to leafy backstreets of the former French Concession, Shanghai is a city that just begs for wandering. And eating. I love the fact that you can slurp a bowl of hand-pulled noodles or bite into soupy dumplings for next to nothing, then splurge on cocktails and fusion fare while gazing out from a rooftop bar on the Bund, over the Huangpu River to Pudong’s space-age night scene.’
There is nowhere quite like Beijing – it is a powerhouse of a city within a power-house of a country. Beijing has always had an extraordinary global influence, and this remains true today. From politics to technology, from the economy to fashion, from education to architecture, decisions made in Beijing spread out across the globe.
Although Beijing is undoubtedly a modern city, racing towards the future, it also remains inextricably linked to a glorious past. Nowhere is this more evident than in the city’s architecture. Jaw-dropping modern structures such as the Olympic Stadium and the NCPA Concert Hall are found alongside equally magnificent temples and palaces of the ancient past. Indeed, in terms of historically significant sites, Beijing is unrivalled – there are six Unesco World Heritage Sites found in the city alone.
But Beijing offers a lot more than just power, influence, and architectural delights. It is a place that is always dynamic and constantly interesting. Driven by the increasing global importance of the city, both economically and politically, a large number of expat workers have been attracted to Beijing over the past two decades. As a result, it caters very well for international travelers. The beautiful parks and the temples are oases of calm amongst five-star hotels, fine-dining restaurants, shopping malls and supermarkets. Above all, it’s amazing to be surrounded by the tangible evidence of China’s long and dramatic history, whether in the spectacular examples of the Forbidden City or the Great Wall. It’s never boring in Beijing.
Ningbo is at roughly the mid-point of the Chinese coastline, towards the South of the Yantzee delta. It is an economically developed, modern city, with a profound cultural foundation as well as being one of China’s oldest cities. Despite now being a highly developed economic centre, it retains its traditions and a culture that dates back many centuries. Ningbo has a significant foreign population, drawn to the city for various different reasons.
Ningbo is a modern economic centre, there is a wide range of well-paid jobs within large, internationally-minded companies. The city is complete with all the conveniences and luxuries you would expect to find in a developed western city: international restaurants, luxury shopping areas, coffee shops, supermarkets, an efficient health system, five-star hotels, to name but a few.
Ningbo retains many charming aspects of traditional Chinese architecture and ways of life. From the cobbled streets, lined by small streams, to traditional Chinese markets and magnificent temples. Ningbo is full of interesting sights and sounds and offers much to those who enjoy green spaces, water and the proximity of nature. Three rivers run through Ningbo, with many bridges linking the islands and outlying districts. Water is of considerable significance – Ningbo means ‘serene wave’ in Mandarin, and many of the city’s green spaces contain large lakes on which to enjoy water sports.
Best known around the world as the home of the Tsingtao Brewery, Qingdao is an impressive modern city that embraces an exciting future without losing touch with its fascinating past. Located on China’s north-eastern coast in Shandong Province, the city was a German colony until 1914, and then occupied by Japan until 1945. The winding cobbled streets, unmistakable German architecture and red-capped hillside villas are a reminder of the city’s enthralling history.
In the last decade, Qingdao has experienced one of the fastest growing GDPs of any Chinese city. This has been driven by a vibrant local business scene, significant foreign investment, and its port – the seventh largest seaport in the world. The recent addition of the Qingdao Oriental Movie Metropolis has simply added to the city’s growing reputation as an economic and cultural hub. With Wanda Film Studio at its heart, the Movie Metropolis is the largest entertainment infrastructure project ever undertaken, rivalling Hollywood in terms of the facilities on offer.
The city is surrounded by some of the most impressive scenery in China. Incredible mountains, rivers, reservoirs and wetlands are easily accessible, and make for excellent day or weekend trips. The city’s seaside aspect also helps to create a pleasant climate – comparatively cooler than inland areas in the summer, and warmer in the winter. Access to a wide range of water-sport activities is also a significant attribute of Qingdao.
The city also caters extremely well for expat life. There is history, culture, and sensational food. There is luxury and convenience – five-star hotels, fine-dining restaurants, premium shopping malls, supermarkets and first-class transport links to provide you with everything you would expect in a leading global city.