Meet the Rangle-Contreras family

A family from Venezuela adjusting to life in Beijing's big city

It’s not easy moving to a country with a culture vastly different to your own. In our series on Beijing's personalities and families, Time Out Family checks in on families who have just moved to Beijing, to see how they’re coming along.

The Rangle-Contreras family

Parents - Solange Rangle, Jesman Contreras
Children - Maria (20) and Lucas (2)
From - Venezuela

Where do you and your family live?
We live in an apartment near Sanlitun

What are the family-friendly perks in the area?
We live near Sanlitun Taikoo Li, which has something for each of us. There are shops for Maria, and places for parents and younger children to go to, like the indoor park in Sanlitun SOHO. Plus, Chaoyang Park is just a stone’s throw away.

Is there anything you don’t like about your neighbourhood?
We used to live in a service apartment in Shenzhen, which had a tight community of expats and we had lots of family activities that were hosted nearby. In Beijing however, things are spread out and you have to travel further for these activities. It’s a big city and we are not really used to that, but it’s growing on us!

What’s the best thing about bringing up your children in Beijing?
We find that the city has a lot of students from many different nationalities. This means there are lots of opportunities to expand our horizons and meet new people. For Maria, it’s good to have that many children her age in such a big city. With Lucas, we think it is great that he is growing up around so many languages and cultures; it will help open his horizons.

Where do your children go to school and why did you send them there?
Lucas goes to Young Starters Academy (YSA) in Chaoyang. We like it for its small student-to-teacher ratio and especially its one-to-one reading program. It is also in a new compound with modern facilities. It’s in a very central location and close to home.

Maria goes to Greenwich University in London, England. She wanted to study engineering in Beijing, but with the language barrier it was too difficult to do it here. The University of Beijing has one of the best aerospace engineering programs in the world, but it’s in Chinese, so she was really disappointed.

What issues did you face as a family moving over to Beijing and how did you resolve them?
Actually the only issue was that I needed to figure out how to pay the utilities such as the gas, phone, electricity and water; all of which had to be paid separately. It took a while to figure it out but it’s just a matter of getting used to it.

What advice do you have for newbies?
Come to Beijing! It is amazing! Go out and find activities and groups you like as there is something for everyone. Get the Beijing taxi guide application on your phone; it’s a lifesaver. Also pick up the local expat magazines; we pick up Time Out Beijing and keep old issues for reference on places to go and directions.

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