Home Away from Home - Guangzhou’s Expat-Friendly Neighbourhoods

Home Away from Home - Guangzhou’s Expat-Friendly Neighbourhoods
By Beth Green , eChinacities.com

Home Away from Home - Guangzhou’s Expat-Friendly Neighbourhoods
Photo: inf.ethz.ch

Expat neighbourhoods in Guangzhou often seem to be grouped around two pivot points in life—alcohol and children. Where enclaves of expats in other cities may be clustered around universities, national monuments or business districts, in Guangzhou these factors seem less important. Many of the neighbourhoods mentioned in this article have sprung up because of proximity to good eating establishments and nightlife or to one of Guangzhou's fine international schools. 

Here are a few of the neighbourhoods Guangzhou expatriates seem to favour, and some ideas why they're so popular.

If you're looking for a peaceful environment far from the bustle of the Central Business District and closer to some natural beauty, you may consider renting a home in the suburbs. The most popular of these areas for foreigners are Panyu and Baiyun districts.

1) Panyu
People who want quiet, green surroundings may go south to Panyu, for example to the city-in-a-city that is Clifford Estates. There, they won't be surrounded by a smoggy urban environment, but will still keep the conveniences of city life at their fingertips. Panyu has lakes, parks and tree-lined streets. Its proximity to parks, hospitals and schools make it a popular place to raise a family.

For schools, Panyu boasts the International School at Clifford and the Canadian International Kindergarten, among others. Panyu is also home to the Chimelong set of amusement parks and other weekend entertainment. There are several expat-aimed establishments here, including English sports bar The Tavern and Canadian burger bar The Brew Panyu, for a good night out without going back into the city.

2) Baiyun
To the north, Baiyun District, like Panyu, is removed from the heart of the city—in a good way. It's still connected with the business zones by public transportation, it's close to Baiyun Shan park and other scenic spots and has a few international schools on offer, for example Utahloy. Another good choice for families, or outdoor recreation enthusiasts, Baiyun is a great place to live, if you don't mind commuting (or don't have to commute) to the city.

Baiyun is also the closest expat neighbourhood to the airport, so frequent business travellers may find living there takes a little of the stress out of flying for work.

But, for expats who don't fancy an early-morning traffic jam or crowded metro ride on the way to the office, living closer to the city centre might be a better idea. Living in the centre puts you a quick cab ride or short subway jaunt to most of the city's after-work attractions, near the bus and train stations and, also importantly, in closer contact with local Guangzhou people.

3) Zhujiang New Town
Zhujiang New Town, officially part of Tianhe District, hosts a trendy array of bars and restaurants to make after-working-hours one big party if residents so choose. The even sidewalks and brightly painted zebra crossings might remind homesick residents of the West, but the area is near enough to the metro to get a feel of the “real” Guangzhou while still being close to the office. Zhujiang New Town also boasts some of the city's skyscraper office buildings, so if you are one of the lucky ones to have a cubicle view of the Canton Tower, Zhujiang New Town might be a sensible place to pay the rent.

4) Liede
This section of Tianhe, near Zhujiang New Town, is fast becoming an important area of foreigner-friendly businesses, bars and restaurants, built around some well-received blocks of flats. Liede has a foreign supermarket and import store, and a snug foreign-restaurant street, Xingsheng Lu, that will make you feel like everybody knows your name. Guangzhou Irish bar Hooley's recently relocated to this area from Tianhe.

5) Tianhe
If you're wedded to work, Tianhe might be the area for you. Tianhe District has the high-rises, the offices and the mid-town feel. Super-convenient to public transportation (but prone to traffic jams if you must be driven) Tianhe District is a no-brainer for expats who want to get from door to door in a jiffy. Tianhe also makes sense if you frequently travel by train, or if you have children attending the International French School of Guangzhou or the Guangzhou Huamei or Guangzhou Nanhu international schools.

6) ErSha Island
Long known as the place to live for diplomats and other heavy lifters of the expat community, ErSha Island (on the Guangzhou riverfront just west of Zhujiang New Town) boasts the American International School. Also housing the Guangdong Museum of Art and the Xinghai Concert Hall, the island is a gentle patchwork of secure, low-rise housing developments with plenty of green area to go around. The snazzy import vehicles plying the island's tree-lined streets give passers-by a guess at how much rents cost. 

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Keywords: where to live Guangzhou international schools Guangzhou expat-friendly neighbourhoods Guangzhou expat neighbourhoods Guangzhou

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