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 Justin and Natalie Stewart, children Paris (13), Dallin (11), Giles (8), Oscar (5)
Where do you live?
What’s the best thing you’ve discovered about bringing up your family in Beijing?
We come from a farming area in Australia, a very small town that doesn’t even have traffic lights! So everything’s new and exciting, especially for the younger two, even just to be out on the streets experiencing different sights and smells. We don’t speak Chinese but the local people are very accommodating and willing to try their best to help. They’re very warm and friendly towards our children – on the bus or train people give up their seats for our younger ones.
Is there anything you don’t like about your neighbourhood?
There’s no subway station close by, and some prices are a little high as it’s perceived to be an expat area. We often go to the Xiaoyunqiao area for a local meal at a better price.
Where do your children go to school and why did you send them there?
Canadian International School of Beijing
. We chose CISB because it has good facilities and friendly staff, plus it’s a convenient location for us and fit our budget requirements. We home-school our younger two children and send the older two to CISB. Working it this way helps us to manage the costs within our budget.
What issues did you face as a family moving over to Beijing?
Finding a place to live and finding a school were our big challenges.
How did you go about solving these issues?
It was hard to decide whether we needed to pick a school or a home first, but then decided that most schools are serviced by a school bus, so we concentrated on finding a suitable home for our family of six first. Looking at so many apar tments was very confusing, and unfor tunately many were not presented well so it was hard to picture ourselves living there. A serviced apar tment turned out to be a good option for us, as there’s on-site help for any issues that arise and the apartment operators helped us with our specific bedding and furniture requests.
What advice do you have for newbies who just moved into the area?
If possible, get some help from a local – a work colleague or long-time expat can give you some general orientation about where to shop and eat and live. Of course, doing it on your own is possible but it’s certainly easier if you can get some local knowledge.
798 Art District
is great for adults and children. Older kids and parents can also enjoy the haggling and shopping at Yashow
The ten-pin bowling alley at Lido Place does good prices if you can go in the morning!
Kids’ play areas
Our favourites are Gung Ho! Pizza
at Lido (pictured above, in a pizza-making class), and Flying Noodles on Xiaoyun Lu.
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