City versus suburbs (particularly Shunyi) – why is this topic such a hot button for some people? Is there really a right or wrong place to live in Beijing? And is it necessary to find faults with the “other side” just for mean-spirited banter?
I recently had a bit of a terse exchange with someone who chose to make many unwarranted assumptions about people based on where they live. While I usually shrug off this kind of ignorance, I became engaged and enraged.
I’ve lived in a big city before. I’ve lived in suburbs before. My life has changed from being young and single to being married with kids – splattered with everything in between including jobs, careers, going back to school and much more. My living decisions were based on many factors at the time. They still are. My personal choice now for the limited amount of time we’ll be living in China is to have my family in the suburbs. That is not to say that city living isn’t for many, many families. It’s to say that for our family at this time, this was the right decision for us.
What I find astounding is that someone might argue that with me. My family, my life, my decision.Any attempt to sway my opinion otherwise makes me wonder if that person isn’t confident in their own decisions. It’s the country mouse/city mouse scenario. However, instead of being curious or even a bit envious of how the other lives (which, let’s face it, we all might feel at one point or another), here it seems like it’s an ongoing expatbattle where there’s supposed to be one winner.
I’m confident that there are both pros and cons for city versus suburb living. People new to Beijing or considering a move often here ask questions on forums looking for helpful information. They’ll receive an abundance of opinions as they wade through all their own personal circumstances to come to a decision. But what they conclude shouldn’t be judged as right or wrong by anyone else.
It’s disappointing to see and hear expats choosing to quarrel rather than support each other. The majority of us are likely not in China long term. We all come from different countries, with different standards of living and different expectations. What a shame that it seems as though local Chinese people are more accepting of our many differences than we are of each other.