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.
Parents Alan and Tracey, and their children Sierra (16), Chloe (13), Aila (5), and Lanie (4)
Where are you from originally?
The US. Alan is originally from the UK.
Where do you live?
We rent a house in Rose and Ginkgo in Shunyi.
What are the family-friendly perks for kids in the area?
We love going for hikes as a family, especially on the Great Wall, so it’s great to live close to hiking destinations. We also like the
fact that there is plenty of open space around here, and the local restaurants are very friendly.
Is there anything you don’t like about your neighbourhood?
No, we love it!
What’s the best thing you’ve discovered about bringing up your family in Beijing?
It would have to be the cultural experience. We enjoy exploring different sightseeing spots around Beijing every weekend, walking through the hutongs and seeing our children have a real sensory experience! As far as food goes, our daughters have discovered a love of dumplings.
Where do your children go to school and why did you send them there?
Our girls all go to The British School of Beijing, Shunyi (BSB). We find the parent community to be very warm, and we enjoy the fact it’s a slightly smaller school and willing to take on extra learning needs. Sierra has started the IB Diploma and has an added challenge in having dyslexia.
What issues did you face as a family moving to Beijing?
The communication barrier was a big one. We used to live in Malaysia where everyone spoke English, so when we moved here we were quickly faced with the challenge of trying
to be understood. Also, in Malaysia it’s tropical all the time, so when
we moved to Beijing in January we had to buy new warm clothes pretty quickly. We also found that moving our two dogs to Beijing was not easy, as we had to have our visa in place first before we could move them.
And how did you resolve the issues you faced?
Yashow Market solved the clothing problem pretty quickly with some warm and cheap jackets! We relied on an export company in Malaysia
to ship our dogs here, and a local company called Asian Tiger to get the dogs through customs in Beijing. They actually made it very easy in the end. And with the communication barrier, learning a few key phrases and just being patient is the best approach for us, as we have found that most locals will try and figure out what we want.
What advice do you have for newbies who just moved into the area?
Soak up the culture, especially if you have kids, as this is way better than any geography book. Make a plan at least every few weeks to get out and explore something new, and take plenty of pictures for the memories. There’s so much to do in Beijing. Also, have a local person go with you the first time you’re buying electricity, gas and water – that can be very confusing at first!
The toboggan ride at the Great Wall at Mutianyu
Laker’s in Shunyi, and the shops and restaurants in Sanlitun
Kids’ play areas The indoor climbing wall at O’le Sports, and any part of the Great Wall of China!
Da Dong Roast Duck and Home Plate BBQ