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Working In Shenyang | The life of An Expat

Working In Shenyang | The life of An Expat

Working In Shenyang | The life of An Expat

What is life really like to live and work in Shenyang, for Lostnfound We have gathered some comments below to get you the details before jumping on the northeast wagon. Feel free to comment below with your own experience.

I lived in Shenyang for a year from 2010-2011. At that time, my Chinese was “ok” (Although this was the city where my proficiency skyrocketed)and I can say it was probably my favorite city to live in.

1. The cost was (comparatively) cheap to most other places I lived in—especially the housing. Now, granted my data is somewhat dated, but I was living right across for Taiyuan st (The main shopping street) in a large 2 bedroom apartment for 2,500RMB/month. These days….*checks a few websites*…huh, guess it hasn’t changed that much. You can still get 100+ sq m apartments for as low as 2,000RMB/month in some areas. So if you’re an expat that needs some space but doesn’t want to live far from the center of the action, so to speak, Shenyang is right up your alley.

2. I *love* dongbei food. I go out of my way to find dongbei restaurants wherever I go. I can’t even exactly pinpoint what exactly I like about these dishes in the same way I could about Hunan or Sichuan dishes, but I rarely walked out of a restaurant disappointed.

3.The culture! Living in Shenyang (and the entirety of the NE including Jilin and Heilongjiang) always felt like I was in China, but not the China you think of when you think of when you typically think of China. The vegetation was a lot different, the Chinese was spoken in harsher, heavier accents and there was a lot of Korean cultural influence as well. I loved talking to the Chaoxian minorities and going to one of the few N. Korean restaurants once in a while for something different. I also got the impression that while NE people were at times more inclined to arguments, and on occasion, fighting, than I had witnessed in other places–they also knew how to let loose better.

4. The expats are a little different than other Chinese cities. I’m an American, and I think I met a grand total of 2 Americans the entire time. Most of the time expats were either Korean, Russian, French or German. There is a lot of car manufacturing in Liaoning and it’s proximity to the Korean peninsula attracts certain kinds of investors and foreign talent.

5. It’s in the North, and well connected to other places. Shenyang to Harbin to see the Ice festival was 4 hours. Changbaishan, a beautiful mountain with a volcanic lake that sits half in China and half in N. Korea is just a train ride away to Jilin province. Beijing/Tianjin/Shijiazhuang/Qiangdao etc are all easily reachable by China’s efficient high-speed rail system. Contrast to my experience in Shanghai where getting to a number of places like Guangzhou/Shenzhen/Yunan/Guangxi/etc was a pain in the neck.
My only gripe with Shenyang was that there was never a taxi around when you needed one.

By Stephen Gilbo


I’ll try to give a hint of SY life as a local SYer who just came back from Europe. In terms of people’s characteristics, living expenses, cultural history, etc. I would say SY, in general, is a good place to live, especially for western people.

It’s sort of a commonly agreed idea that north-eastern people are extremely helpful and hospitable. It’s mostly a Chinese thing, but north-easterns especially. It’s very easy to make friends with local people and they’re likely to try their very best to help they can if you are a friend, without asking for anything in return. Especially if you are a western person, it’s most likely that people see you as sort of a star and show their high respect to you. Well, that may also lead to a problem, which you might feel strange at the beginning, that people stare at you in the street or in public, since there’re not many western faces around. While as there are more and more western people, this situation is getting better though.
Besides that, as is mentioned by Stephen Gilbo , it’s fairly cheap to live here. Usually 3–4k RMB should be more than enough for a normal life monthly, well, except if you buy loads of luxurious things. Normally a foreign English teacher can earn 15- 20k easily. So I think it’s considerably easy to live a good life.
Meanwhile, SY is one of the most historic places in China, as well as a big modern city. It is formerly known by its Manchu name Fengtian, as capital city of the Qing Dynasty for a while. The tombs of two important Emperors are also in Shenyang, known as Zhaoling(昭陵) and Fuling(福陵), which, in addition to Gugong (故宫) are famous touristic attractions. At the same time, the city nowadays is fairly modern, being the economical and political center of the north-eastern region. Therefore, it’s a good combination of traditional Chinese taste and modern convenience.

There are quite a few things good of Shenyang, from both my own experience and what I’ve heard from my European friends who ever stayed here. However, as anywhere else, there are also a lot of things need to improve.

One practical issue should be language. There will be no problem if you speak fluent Chinese (accent is acceptable). But if you don’t, I would suggest to learn a bit. The overall English speaking ability is not great here among local SYers. Young people are considerably better, but their accent of English is not always understandable to me (as Chinese myself). DON’T WORRY too much about that though. They will try to speak a bit, and you’ll pick up some useful Chinese as well. Communication doesn’t necessarily rely on language itself. You’ll be fine.

On top of that, I would say, I’m not a big fan of big cities, considering the busy traffic, noisy crowd and fast rhythm. It’s not something that only belong to here, instead, just common problems of big cities. SY is not the biggest in China for sure, but factually, in terms of its area and population, it’s still huge. So be prepared.

Additionally, one thing I wanna add is that the air pollution is not always that bad. You can still see blue sky most of the time. Might be worse in winter though. I just came back from the Netherlands, well, the air quality is way better than I expected.

These are mostly what I can think of this city at the moment. Same as any other city, there are good and bad things. Personally, I would say it’s one of my cities so far, among tens of cities I’ve been to, in both China and Europe. All western people I happen to know by now, who have come to SY before, either stay or travel, have very high evaluation upon this place. So I believe, although there are some shortcomings, it is still a good choice to spend some time around and have a taste of real China.

If you have any question, please feel free to leave a comment to this post. As a local SYer, I’d be more than glad to answer.
Welcome to Shenyang!

Emerald Jiang

SY is my hometown. I wish my answer can help.
If your Chinese speaking is good, you’ll not have barrier in SY. If not, you have to polish because only a few people in SY can speak English well. If you need help in the street, you’d better find who looks like a student or who is seemed educated well.
The number of foreigners in SY is increasing. A few years ago foreigners was looked like rare animals(like panda), but now we are begin to open mind. Try to make friend with Chinese people around you, we SYers are famous of giving helpsヾ(^▽^*)))


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