I’ve been talking about the positives of living, or even just visiting China, but the negatives must also be faced. It probably sounds exotic to pick up and move with your whole family halfway across the world. And probably daunting as well, as it should be. Let me explain the differences between living in China without kids and with kids. And one of those is travel.
In some ways, travel is more convenient. Trains take you anywhere quickly and cheaply and the cities have a good bus and even tram systems. Taxis are also aplenty and relatively affordable. When I didn’t have kids, this was great (and trains still are). However, with small children, safety is a huge issue. Unless you want to carry a car seat or booster around with and take the time to put it the taxi (which may or may not have working seat belts) in on often a busy road, you’ll have to settle for hoping for working seat belts and put the child belted on your lap. We didn’t have any accidents or injuries, thank God, but some close calls for sure.
Bus travel in China is even worse. The plus side is people invariably gave up their seats for the kids if the bus was full. But some buses barely stop, giving little time to settle the kids in a seat or to get off. And there is certainly no such thing as a seat belt. And though we were injury free on our last trip, after an accident in the US where the car seats kept my kids from serious injury, I am even more nervous about our return to China, especially with one extra kid.
That pretty much leaves the metro/subway as the safest way to get around, and fortunately there is a good, extensive network now in Beijing, thanks in part to the Olympics. Renting an apartment near to a metro will be a priority for me.