Where should I live? Yulin, Zongnan, Zongbei, Ximianqiao, Moziqiao, Jiuyanqiao? After a few years as a renter in Chengdu, you're sure to be an expert on at least a couple corners of the city. Residents of Chengdu describe the neighborhoods they call home—the ups, the downs, and the how-to-get arounds. Part 2
Jessie, 29, teacher-turned-tattooist (Australia)
Why did you choose Yulin? A friend recommended this area. Who are your neighbors? Mostly Chinese, lots of seniors and a few young families. I'm guessing most are locals as they all have the Sichuan accent. There are a few foreigners in this area, but I rarely see them. What are the three best things about your 'hood? So many things: amazingly cheap tailors around the corner; it's a very quiet neighborhood; the bao'an are a nice bunch of boys who don't charge us when we come back late. What's your flat like? Sixth floor. Two large bedrooms, one with an enclosed sun room, reasonably sized lounge room, medium-sized kitchen, Chinese bathroom, plenty of storage space. Old-style flat but fully furnished. How much is rent? 1,100 per month. What's the most recognizable landmark in your area? Maybe the bars on Yulin Xi Lu: Old Little Bar and White Nights.
Iona, 24, English teacher (U.K.)
Why do you live in Yulin? It's close to most of the places I go and has a lot of amenities. Who are your neighbors? Well-off locals, foreigners. What do you like about living there? It's green, quiet, and convenient. What do you dislike? It can be hard to get a taxi, shop prices are a little higher than in other places, and it's missing some facilities. What's your flat like? One bedroom, nice kitchen, suitable bathroom, hall/dining area, big sitting room, balcony. Altogether a good size, on the fourth floor. How much is rent? 1,400 per month (a little expensive, but I love the place). What's the most recognizable landmark in your area? People are always getting lost in my area (if they don't know it well) as all the streets look the same—so, streets lined with similar-looking trees and endless clothes shops.
Gu Xiaocai, 20, student (China)
Where do you live? Usually at school, on the weekends at Fangcao Jie. My boyfriend lives there. What do you like about it? Quiet, good location, near public transportation. What do you dislike? Our building has no elevator, there's not a lot of good food nearby, and the fruit vendor on the corner is often violent. What's your flat like? Three bedrooms, one living room, two patios, very comfortable, seventh floor. How much is rent? 2,000 yuan.
Angela, 25, student (U.S.)
Why did you choose Zongbei? By chance, a friend was moving out of her place and offered me to take over her lease. Who are your neighbors? Mostly Chinese, although probably once a day I see another foreigner. What are the three best things about living there? Restaurants, my friendly fruit man, convenience of everywhere being a five-minute walk. What makes you want to leave? Price of rent, our non-working water heater. What's your flat like? Two bedrooms, one bath, big kitchen, decent living room and a small cubby area with all our plants and stuff. Pretty bright as well, on the seventh floor. How much is rent? 1,400 per month. What's the most recognizable landmark in your area? Everyone knows where Yangyang is, right?
Mao Xi, 31, University lecturer and freelancer (China)
Why did you choose Zongbei? Convenient. Who are your neighbors? International. What are the three best things about your 'hood? It's near Trust Mart, I have friends around the neighborhood, and it's close to work. What are three things that make you want to move to another area? It's noisy, there's no greenery, and there are too many temptations. How much is rent? We bought it. Renting it would cost about 3,000 per month for 84 square meters. What's the most recognizable landmark in your area? Trust Mart or the American Consulate.
Diane, 31, English teacher (U.S.)
Why Zongbei? It was close to my previous neighborhood, Zongnan, and close to most of the places I like to go. Who are your neighbors? Mostly locals, all ages, but it seems that middle-class couples and families are in the majority. What are the three best things about your 'hood? It's close to Chuan Da, supermarkets, my last two jobs, bars, cafés, and shopping that I like, etc. We have trees. The people are friendly and generally accepting of foreigners. What makes you want to live in another area? Just to try something new; I've been in the same neighborhood for three years. Sometimes I think it'd be interesting to live in the Tibetan area, or in the middle of downtown. Sometimes I fantasize about a nice, new, modern apartment. What's your flat like? Two bedrooms, living room, kitchen, bathroom on the main floor. Two bedrooms, detached bathroom and roof garden with lovely arbors on the top floor. It's been nicely remodeled inside, but the building is an old one. We live on the seventh floor, and there's no elevator. The main floor is 76 square meters. The roof is about the same. How much is rent? 2,500 per month, furnished. What's the most recognizable landmark in your area? Chuan Da.
Bonnie, 27, English teacher (U.K.)
Where do you live? In the big complex opposite the Trust Mart exit. Why did you choose to live there? Because it was near the office of our first job and they helped us find it. Students always say, 'Ah yes, many foreigners live there,' but we really only chose it for convenience! Who are your neighbors? There are quite a lot of foreigners round here, but not many in our xiaoqu. Otherwise mostly families and oldies I think. What are the three best things about living there? Buses easy to get to just about anywhere, proximity of good Western and Chinese food such as Lanzhou Lamian and my favorite shaokao lady as well as Peter's, Sabrina's, Bookworm, etc., and it's near Panam(e) eliminating the need for long drunken walks home. And the three worst? It's noisy at night because of the Trust Mart loading area and lots of shao kao; the trash and stink created by aforementioned loading area and late-night food; and there are other great food places that I wish were also on my doorstep! What's your flat like? Two bedrooms, big lounge and dining area, small but acceptable kitchen, big bathroom with separate sink area. Complete with own rat! How much is rent? 1,650 a month. What's the most recognizable landmark in your area? Trust Mart or American Consulate. Taxi drivers respond well to this!
Charlie, 27, DJ (U.S.)
Why did you choose Zongnan? Good atmosphere, well maintained, close proximity to friends, bars, and restaurants. Who are your neighbors? Young professionals, foreigners, middle-aged businessmen. What are the three best things about living in your 'hood? Good living conditions, many restaurants, comparatively clean and upscale. What are three things that make you want to move? Sometimes it feels a little sterile; other parts of the city have unique character; I could find a better apartment for cheaper in other areas. What's your flat like? 170 square meters, three bedrooms, one converted into a music studio, first floor. How much is rent? 1,700. What's the most recognizable landmark in your area? Lippo Tower.
CAMPUS AREA 川大
Christoph, 24, student (German)
Where do you live? Nanfujin Compound, Shunjiang Lu. Why there? Because it's a sweet two-story loft apartment. Who are your neighbors? Middle-class families. What are the three best things about living there? It's close to university, we can use the pool and basketball court, and there's a view of the river. What are three things that make you want to live in another area? There could be more good restaurants and snack shops close to our house, no hot girls seem to live in this area, and it's not central enough. What's your flat like? It's a two-floor, three-bedroom loft apartment. Downstairs there's a big living room with one huge couch and one small couch. It has a balcony with a little pond. The kitchen and the second bathroom (which actually only can be used as a toilet) are rather small. Upstairs we have the three bedrooms (two of them have balconies) and the big bathroom. The apartment was 3,100 per month for the first six months, but now we pay 2,800 per month. What's the most recognizable landmark in your area? Jiuyan Qiao.
Alexandra, student (U.S.)
Where do you live? First Ring Road, near Jiuyan Qiao. Why did you choose that area? Good priced apartment, near Sichuan University, restaurants, and market. Who are your neighbors? Many seniors and a bunch of families. What do you like best about living there? Close to school and major bus stop; nearby an amazing farmers market and other good restaurants; nearby teahouses on the river. And dislike? I live on the seventh floor, and it's a pain to climb all the stairs; sometimes the huge number of bars mean lots of traffic (but the bars are fun)! What's your flat like? Two bedrooms, wonderful kitchen, living room, bathroom with squat toilet, washer, water heater. How much is rent? 1,400 per month for 78 square meters. What's the most recognizable landmark in your area? Sichuan University, Jiuyan Qiao, Babi 2.
Sarah, 34, teacher (U.S.)
Where do you live? Shanghai Garden, southern area. Why did you choose to live there? The complex was new and clean and close to Carrefour and Peter's. Who are your neighbors? We were the first foreigners to move into Shanghai Garden 18 months ago, but now there are several foreign families. The rest of the residents are locals, and I assume they have money since I see lots of luxury cars in the parking garage! Quite a contrast to the bike vendors set up outside of our gate. What are the three best things about living there? It's well maintained, close to restaurants and shops, and is safe. What are three things that make you want to live in another area? Traffic is terrible, construction noise, some local residents are snobby (but really, where don't you find these qualities?) What's your flat like? Our apartment is 158 square meters, a bit tight for a family of 5. However, it's airy and modern. Countertops come up to my mid-thigh, and we had to bargain hard for a clothes dryer! How much is rent? We're totally getting ripped off on rent because we're here with a corporation. An identical apartment across the hall costs 3,500 RMB less a month. What's the most recognizable landmark in your area? Starbucks or the new walking/pedestrian street. There's also a "cement park" nearby with lots of nightly dancing.