I’m leaving this Thursday to go back to USA for a few weeks, mainly to help the fam get moved out of the house, and then spend some time with family before we all head back out. Hedi & the kids haven’t come over yet. They’re waiting for the school year to get out.
The biggest thing I have to get done in the next few days is get our apartment selected and secured. This has been a very difficult problem. There are a couple factors, mainly revolving around school location and work location. Both are in Beijing, but the city is huge, and they’re quite far apart. Actually, even before that, we had to decide where the kids would go to school. This was also a very hard decision, because while there are some good international schools, most of them are out in the boonies in a community called Shunyi. It’s basically a community that sprang up for expats, and expats only. It’s literally about a dozen little neighborhoods with American style homes, in cookie cutter fashion, all jammed together. Ugh. We really don’t want to live in a compound of foreigners who try to pretend they don’t live in China. If we’re going to live in China, I want to dive in head first and live right in the heart of the city. Ok, that’s also a fairly expat life, since the apartment is well out of reach of middle class Chinese, but at least it’s in the heart of the city, with China literally all around us. So we decided on Beijing City International School, which is the most downtown of any international school. It’s a nice new campus, going into only its third year. They have school buses which go to most of the main apartment complexes. I really don’t want the kids to spend a huge amount of time on a school bus, so we’re going to live close to the school. Only thing is, the school is on the complete opposite side of the city as my work. So my commute is going to be, um, challenging. I might try the subway, but I think the likely thing is that I’ll break down and hire a driver, so I can at least work in the car and work shorter hours. The kids bus ride will be about 10 minutes. My commute will be about 90 minutes. But there’s lots of stuff around us, so we’ll enjoy being in the city on weekends. One thing we’ll miss (I will at least) is being part of the kids sports leagues. No baseball, soccer, baseball, etc. We could have all that if we lived up in Shunyi, but it’s not practical from where we’ll live. Plus, to maximize our experience here, I want to get out and see/do stuff on the weekends.
So while I’ve picked the apartment complex, I still need to figure out the exact unit. Apartments here are all individually owned, so you have negotiate with each landlord on price and terms, so it’s not easy to simply compare different units, even when they’re vacant. While many units come furnished, we’re picky enough that we don’t like virtually all of the furnishings. Apparently it’s common to roll in a furniture allowance into the rent, and then we can pick our own stuff. I think that’s what we’ll do. Hedi doesn’t trust me to pick it (probably rightly so), so we’ll wait until she’s here, which means we’ll be without furniture for a month or so, which is how long it takes to get, according to the preferred supplier I talked with.
I’ll be relieved once I get that figured out.