lifeinChinaThree years living in Beijing, China with three young kids has been educational, entertaining and exasperating. It’s taught me a lot, including patience and learning to look on the bright side. We’re excited to be leaving to spend some time in the US, but now I want to reflect on our experiences and the good that we enjoy here but won’t in the US.

1)      Good public transport and cheap taxis: Sure, traffic is a huge headache in Beijing and safety is an issue but the bus and subway systems are very well developed and with some research in advance, not too hard to negotiate. Taxis prices are going up for the first time in a decade, but still very affordable.

2)      Cheap eats: “If anyone doesn’t have money, they should come to China,” my 6 year old declared. “There are restaurants everywhere”. Of course exercise caution when choosing hole in the wall or street food, but away from the expat populated and touristy areas, eating out and good food is fairly inexpensive. Not to mention you can’t beat vegetable market prices.

3)      Affordable child care. School and nursery school can be costly, but home help is very affordable. An “ayi” to take care of the kids or clean or cook needn’t cost more than $2/hour or so.

4)      Tolerance for foreign idiots: There aren’t a lot of countries where you are obviously a foreigner and not expected to speak the language. And more than that, you will still be treated warmly and that won’t stop people from trying to communicate. Many will be thrilled to be able to practice English.

If you’ve been to China, especially Beijing, what did you like best?