Searching for a More Peaceful Life: China’s Most Livable “Second-Tier,” Cities

Searching for a More Peaceful Life: China’s Most Livable “Second-Tier,” Cities
Apr 18, 2017 Translated by

The extortionate property and living costs in first tier cities are an enormous source of pressure and concern among young Chinese professionals today. This article translated from , explores the growing opportunities that second tier cities have to offer; the evaluations offer rose-tinted views of cities such as Xi’an, but it is an interesting insight into one of the hottest concerns in China today.

Prices are too high, rent is too expensive. This has become a pain for many Chinese people. People living in every corner of China are feeling the economic pressure. However, second-tier cities can be very suitable alternatives. China’s second-tier cities are very livable and each has its own special charm. Here is a list of second-tier cities to consider moving to if the economic crush of living in Beijing or Shanghai is getting you down.

Sanya- Sanya is located in the southern tip of the island of Hainan and is best known for being the city with the best air quality in China. Sanya residents also have the longest life expectancy of anywhere in China with an average of about 80 years. Sanya has been dubbed the “Chinese Hawaii,” and is rated the highest for tourism in China because of Hainan’s beautiful coastal scenery. Sanya is the urban heart and transportation and communication hub of southern Hainan. The city is an important foreign trade port and has made extraordinary strides in urban development.

Wuhan- Wuhan is considered to be an extremely livable city with cheap real estate, and good quality water and environment. These factors have become a major draw for buyers in the area. Wuhan is also known as the “River City,” or “City of 100 Lakes”, due to its large amount of water resources: a quarter of the city’s urban area is on or near water. Wuhan has also become a base for scientific research and higher education and is therefore one of the most developed cities in China, second only to Beijing and Shanghai. In a report of 2014 statistics concerning global urban vitality, Wuhan was ranked number five out of the world’s top ten cities.

Haikou- Haikou, a seaside city, is noted for its amazing air quality and warm tropical weather. Haikou is known as one of the most desirable cities to live in mainland China. The city is also ranked as one of ten National Environmental Protection Model Cities and as also ranked as one of the best cities for health, tourism, gardens and historical sites.

Xi’an- In ancient times, Xi’an was known as one of the world’s four major ancient civilizations alongside Cairo, Athens and Rome. Up until now, from an environmental standpoint, air quality index and development standpoint, Xi’an has been called one of the most livable cities in China. Many people stay in Xi’an for entrepreneurial development as has great opportunities for working and living. As the city becomes more and more clean and the sky becomes increasingly blue, the city will become even more beautiful and comfortable.

Chongqing- Chongqing ranks very highly in various surveys evaluating quality of life in China. This is why the city has been often nicknamed, “Livable Chongqing.” Chongqing is one of five major central Chinese cities and full of history and culture. The city is the upper Yangtze River’s center for economics, finance, innovation, politics, shipping culture, science and technology, education and communications. Chongqing’s urban and rural development will continue in the future as the city steps onto the world’s stage.

Chengdu-A comfortable place to live, Chengdu was dubbed “China’s Low Carbon City,” in 2009. It is located on the eastern Chengdu Plain, a flat area crisscrossed by rivers and characterized by rich soil. Its location has given Chengdu its reputation as a land of abundance. Chengdu is also an historical and cultural cities and one of the top cities for tourism in China.

Hangzhou- Hangzhou is known for being a “quiet and peaceful,” city despite its urban transformation. The city has been developed around the landscape and many areas seem to still be untouched. Hangzhou has held the title of China’s Happiest City for five years in a row. In 2009 Hangzhou’s World Leisure Expo become a permanent fixture and began to attract the attention of the world’s leisure industry. Hangzhou was named as the “Best Chinese City for Investment,” by the World Bank five years in a row and was named “Best Commercial City in China,” by Forbes five years in a row. In economic output, Hangzhou ranks second out of all of the Chinese provincial capitals and sixth out of all of the cities in mainland China.

Ningbo- In 2006, Ningbo was named by the public as the “Preferred Livable City of the Year”. Unlike many dry and parched urban areas in China, Ningbo has water flowing all through the city due to its location on a harbor. The city has also enjoyed flourishing economic development. In 2009, Ningbo’s GDP totaled 4.2 billion Yuan and the city was ranked fourth in per capital disposable income in China. Ningbo’s rich culture is typical of cities in the Yangtze River Delta. It is also a historical and cultural city and the eastern port of the “Maritime Silk Road”.


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Keywords: Second Tier Cities in China Best Cities to live in China


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Too many bad expats that make the other expats look like trash in haikou. no way...

Apr 25, 2017 15:34 Report Abuse



Many 3rd tier cities are better than the ones mentioned here. Sanya is a tourist trap. You might try Guangxi Beihai. Wuhan is ok because the whole province is dirt poor. So expect your salary to be low too.

Apr 19, 2017 03:20 Report Abuse



stopped reading after I saw wuhan as a most livable city. Are you forking kidding me? It's a dumpster hellhole

Apr 18, 2017 09:36 Report Abuse



I live in China's most livable city, and I won't say where, and I hope you never come.

Apr 22, 2015 06:58 Report Abuse



Sanya is the best choice I think among the mentioned above. But living in small cities, like Shijiazhuang for example, also can give a foreigner many advantages to make use of.

Jun 22, 2014 22:05 Report Abuse



Well, it wasn't a Chinese who said 'You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time'. In China, many would consider the last ('but...') part unimportant when the prior two are more than enough to get them everything they can dream of. This is a nation on the fast track to 'success', powered by adverstisements like this article.

Jun 20, 2014 10:10 Report Abuse



This RIDICULOUS article states, in re Wuhan:"and good quality water and environment." What IDIOT wrote THAT? Your own publication has frequently commented on the fact that WUHAN IS ONE OF THE MOST POLLUTED CITIES IN CHINA!! The air is AWFUL!! Fumes and smog mean you sometimes do not see the sun for weeks! I lived in Wuhan for 13 months, June, 2011, to July, 2012, and still have friends and in-laws there. NOTHING has changed!! The water is undrinkable, like elsewhere in China. Perhaps the writer also thinks Detroit is a great place to live?

Jun 19, 2014 21:47 Report Abuse



I think it was translated from Chinese news...

Jun 20, 2014 09:26 Report Abuse



Last week pollution index reached to 500 in Wuhan. It is impossoble to see sun during summer because of fog. City is full of dust,smog. Is this article a joke or propaganda?

Jun 18, 2014 10:04 Report Abuse



"Wuhan is considered to be an extremely livable city with cheap real estate, and good quality water and environment. " LOL, boil the goddamn water and you can taste something, the taste remains even if you use it to make coffee. Cheap real estate ? trololol, idk about the other city but this article seems to be full of shit.

Jun 17, 2014 13:56 Report Abuse



"Prices are too high, rent is too expensive"....and then they list Sanya as a good choice. Haven't they checked out the massive increase in real estate prices there over the last few years? The place has seen a huge real estate bubble, maybe created by those trying to escape 1st tier prices. I won't deny it is a nice place but very expensive to buy there now.

Jun 15, 2014 12:54 Report Abuse



Where China is heading no angel would tread.

Jun 15, 2014 10:10 Report Abuse



Typical low lives mentality/dream --- being financially rich by selling their soul, and be envied by other low lives.

Jun 16, 2014 08:19 Report Abuse



The most livable cities in China are the ones you can only travel to with a time machine.

Jun 14, 2014 11:41 Report Abuse



Xi'an for me beats other big cities ive been to:SH, Gz and SZ. the problem is the polution :(

Jun 13, 2014 00:08 Report Abuse



I sure don't. I live in the cleanest city in China but it's know, Chinese...

Jun 12, 2014 14:42 Report Abuse



More propaganda. Xi'an is super dusty and polluted ,Chengdu is no better, there's f all to do in Wuhan and Ningbo, and Chongqing is famous for being one of the worst polluted cities in China. It's surrounded by mountains so the smog just sits there, and the heavy HEAVY industry there have f*ck*d up the water. Who believes this rubbish?

Jun 12, 2014 10:45 Report Abuse



I was in Xian for a week earlier this year. The pollution index for three days was between 460 and 504. This article is just propoganda.

Jun 12, 2014 09:30 Report Abuse



Wuhan, next to Haikou or Sanya ?! Seriously ?!

Jun 12, 2014 09:26 Report Abuse



Wuhan ?? 5th in the world ?? ... I don't think so, the place is a hole !

Jun 12, 2014 09:06 Report Abuse



i remember in recent years the sky in Wuhan being orange for about a week - and it was not a dust storm

Jun 12, 2014 18:15 Report Abuse



This article is absolute rubbish and completelty false. I lived in Xi'an for over two years and hardly saw a blue sky. The pollution there is terrible. In winter especially, all the coal dust from neighbouring Shaanxi province will blow into Xi'an making the air quality foul and unbelievably dirty. To say that it is one of China's most livable cities is a farce.

Jun 12, 2014 08:59 Report Abuse



I like Chongqing. It's a great and fun city.

Jun 12, 2014 08:58 Report Abuse



Yes this whole article is a complete fabrication. Probably translated from some CCP newspaper. The problem is, many Chinese read this rubbish on a daily basis and actually believe it.

Jun 12, 2014 09:02 Report Abuse



Thank you for this, I'll think twice before moving to Chengdu.

Jun 17, 2014 02:23 Report Abuse