We still haven’t found a place to live. The Oakwood Residence is still our home and it looks like we’ll stay here until the 1st of March. So why has it been so difficult to find the right home?
We want to live in the central part of Beijing. Of course, in a city of 23 million people, that “central part” is huge.
The international schools in Beijing are outside of the city (close to the airport). But we feel we are city people and an (expat) community outside of the city is not where we see ourselves. This means that the kids have a 30 min commute to school by school bus but they are ok with that.
Living in the city limits us to apartments and there are plenty of them! But finding the right one is not that easy!
Why is that? Here are some examples:
Most diplomats have to live in a compound with security. Then there is a requirement from the EU delegation that limits our choice very much: If above the 6th floor, there have to be 2 fire escapes….and quite a few Beijing compounds have only one. And with most modern buildings having around 30 floors there is not a lot available below the 6th floor.
Many Beijing apartments oficially have 4 bedroom but are in reality “3 + 1”. This means that there are 3 bedrooms + a tiny room of approximately 6 square metres for the “ Ayi” (the live-in help).
But with 3 kids (of whom 2 are teenagers and ideally need their own space), we need 4 proper bedrooms.
We almost said yes to an apartment in a lovely compound in the perfect location. But, dear friends, I got cold feet.
It was a Chinese style apartment. We are talking dark, wooden floors, carved out dragon panels on the walls, chandeliers, golden wall paper with Chinese signs etc. And while all of that is authentic and lovely, it was a far cry from the light, nordic style we’re used to. So I pulled the break. At the end of the day, I will be spending a lot of time in the apartment :-)
We rented out our house in Brussels furnished. This means that we only brought a sofa and 3 armchairs. And for that reason, we need to find a furnished apartment. Luckily it’s not difficult to find a furnished apartment but again the style of the furniture is very Chinese.
I’m beginning to feel the pressure. The agency we work with has been extremely patient and has shown us God knows how many apartments. But for one reason or another, it’s never quite what we’re looking for.
So there you go. A list of first world problems when all that really matters is a roof over our heads :-)
I remain grateful every day.