Hi. My husband is considering a 2 year secondment to Chengdu and I would appreciate advice on several areas before we commit ourselves. None of us speak any Mandarin (yet! - though it would be our intention to learn ) and the thought of relocating to an area where very little English is spoken is rather daunting.
It would be our hope to integrate with the whole community rather than just expats, but to help us settle in I think that being near other English speakers would be helpful. Which is the best expat community to live in?
We would prefer to bring our 14 year old son with us rather than send him to a UK boarding school but have concerns over the quality of International schools and we don't want to jeopardise his education. Does anyone have any recommendations for schools? Is it necessary to live near the school ?
He plays rugby union in the UK and would be keen to continue but I can't find any clubs for mini junior rugby. What do expat teenagers do in their free time in Chengdu?
I have also read a lot about spicy / greasy food and how this is difficult to avoid. How easy is it to shop if you are unable to read food labels? Are the usual fresh foodstuffs
( meat, vegetables, fruit ) available
or if not can anyone recommend a website I could look at which would help me to familiarise myself with the usual foods available in Chengdu?
In a nutshell, I would appreciate any advice on the the do's and don'ts , things to bring, cost of living , local customs to note so we do not unnecessarily offend anyone etc.
I have read that the climate isn't great and
the sun doesn't shine all that often in Chengdu. Is that actually true?
We are keen skiers and understnd that there is a ski resort in Chengdu, but it is at a very high altitude. Does anyone have any thoughts about it?
I will be leaving my job in the UK and would therefore like to spend my time helping my family to settle in to Chengdu. Can any one recommend any charitable work / groups which would be good to join to help us to adapt quickly.
Thank you !
You can rest easy. Chengdu is probably much more modern than any city in your home country (no offense to the home country, but you will discover that when you get here, I am certain), but still retains its old China feel in certain areas. It is an internationalized city with a high degree of English speakers due to its burgeoning tech industries. You will want to live in the South if your goal is to be near the majority of expats. Somewhere between Tongzilin and the 4th Ring Road along the Ren Min Nan Lu and Tianfu Da Dao and you will be good.
There is a very active rugby community in Chengdu and your son can play on the city expat team which competes with other cities around China.
Your children can go to any number of international schools. My 12 year old will attend the elite Confucius International School in Anren Town, while many expats are happy with Leman or QSI or Eton.
It is pay as you go, so there are no geographical requirements.
Fresh foods are available daily at your local farmer's market. For imported products there are several options. People find METRO popular for bulk purchases and there is Sabrina's Country Store for other favorites.
I am sure the climate is much better than any place in the UK.
The cost of living here is very low compared to Beijing or Shanghai. You will live well.
The skiing is at Xiling Snow Mountain, a good hour to hour and half drive from the city.
The Bookworm is a focal point and meeting place for many charitable organizations.
It is also a favorite expat hangout for business people.
You don't need to bring anything with you. Everything you need is here or you can get it here.
No worries. Good luck.
Thank you so much for your very detailed reply. It makes me want to hop on the next plane over!
Regarding your school choice are you able to say why you are choosing the Confucius school. My son is quite bright and sporty and doing well over here in the UK and his education is of paramount importance.
The Confucius International School is the most elite school in the area. My son at 12 years old already runs his own company and the school agreed to allow him to have his own program based on the business that he already does in addition to their normal course load.
They are thinkers and forward looking and are the only place I could find that would bend to my son's requirements. It was that or take him out of school altogether to begin his career, which would go against the wishes of his Chinese mother and grandparents.
His entrance test, since he is already fluently bilingual, also allowed him to skip 2 grades, thus saving on two years of tuition. Again, most schools would just stick to their pre-determined guidelines. This school thinks outside the box.
And the area around their is set in a museum town full of history and charm, though a bit far for my liking.
Sorry, above, I mean "the area around there" for anybody picky about typos.