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AaronUK

To move to Ningbo?

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AaronUK

Hi everyone,

 

Over the last year I have been skype interviewing with several companies in Hong Kong and also one in Shanghai all without success. I have now received a job offer related to my skills in Data Analytics in an English speaking role in Ningbo.

 

I had been wanting to work abroad since graduating ten years ago but wanted to avoid teaching English so have rather been focusing on growing some niche in my skillset to try and make me worth sponsorship, I am happy to be gaining some interest for this.

 

While I feel like I am echoing something similar to when people needlessly set their hearts on Beijing/Shanghai for study, I feel the gay night life in those places is quite important to me and being a gay man I feel it is important to live in a very large city to have the options to express myself more easily. I think I will be very sad to leave London since there is so much to do here, I'm not sure anyone is really ever ready to leave a city like London and obviously I would miss the gay night life and my friends and I know that Ningbo does not cater for this in the same way.

 

I'm just wondering if anyone had any thoughts on moving to a 2nd tier city and how they found adjustment, I know you may not be able to comment directly on my specifics.

 

They say Ningbo population is high around 7 million (although thats spread out over a large area rather than central in the city)? It is about 2.5 hours to Shanghai so I know I could travel there once a month to go clubbing if I wanted to enjoy that but perhaps would not give me the sense of community I would find like I have in London.

 

Also I have been studying Mandarin once a week the last 3 years in London to try and prepare me for any future opportunities like this, my colleagues would be a mix of expats and Chinese but with English as the office language. The local dialect 宁波话 seems to be quite in use from the research I can see, so I am wondering how easy it will be to take this opportunity for learning Mandarin.

 

They have actually offered me a slight reduction in the salary but to include housing allowance of just under 5000rmb/month on going, does anyone have any positive experience with this?

 

Thanks,

 

Aaron

 

 

 

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somethingfunny

You might be surprised to find how much of a 'gay scene' there is even in some of the smaller Chinese cities.  There won't be any of the explicitly gay club venues that you get in the UK, but there will certainly be places with a 'reputation'.

 

I know people who have had a lot of success in similar sized (and smaller) cities in other regions of China, so I don't imagine there would be any reason why it would be a problem in Ningbo.  In fact, its proximity to Shanghai may make it an even more attractive location.

 

Gay dating apps are also very popular in China, and if you're into that kind of thing, you'll probably have to be applying a pretty rigorous filter to get the numbers down to something manageable.

 

I don't think your problem is going to be finding a gay community.  Much more likely to be a problem is finding a lasting relationship, as family acceptance is still a major issue.  But then again, you might not actually be interested in that.

 

I should add: London probably has one of the best gay scenes in the world, so you should definitely be under no illusions, it might not be as bad as you expect, but it definitely won't be as good as London.

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DavyJonesLocker

Can't really address the gay issue but there are apps like tantan so even if in a small city there are surely possibilities to meet like minded people even if its for relationships or just friendship. I doubt being openly gay in a 2nd tier city is fully accepted yet by the wider community but unless your walking around like the Glenn Hughes from the Village people i think you will be fine.

 

In some ways it's like me in china. Being in my mid  40's I have no interest in clubs, bars etc any more but I'd use dating apps to try meet someone if I was looking. 

 

However i think there is another point that you should consider. Being in a 2nd tier city will be a great life experience and the job will be a stepping stone to something else. its a lot easier to get a job in China once you are already in the country. It will just be a matter of time before you get the opportunity to move to a first tier city. You have your whole life to meet someone but the opportunities to move and work in another country don't come along that easily. Furthermore it becomes emotionally more difficult to pack up and leave as you get older in my experience.

 

As for london, I have lived here for 15 years or so and ten of those years I fully understand why you like it but you might regret  later on in life not taking this opportunity now . I'd say go for it Aaron, what's the worst that can happen?  You hate it, just pack up and leave :wink:

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Lu

To get an idea of what accommodation might cost, check this thread. From what I know, for 5000 a month should be not bad for Ningbo. You can probably rent something halfway decent with it (studio or one-bedroom apartment), or pay a bit more for something bigger. But don't take my word on it, I don't have the latest information on housing prices.

 

I don't have any information on gay life in Ningbo, but apart from that, I think you should go for it. Worst come to worst you can make straight friends and still enjoy your time there. Congratulations on the job offer!

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DavyJonesLocker
43 minutes ago, Lu said:

To get an idea of what accommodation might cost, check this thread.

 

 

looking my real estate apps like 房天下 and selecting a one  bed apartment in the center that is decorated to 豪华装修 standard is about 3000 pm so I think  5000 is pretty good. As a comparsion a one bed high standard apartment in central Beijing is circa 7500 but lot cheaper once you move out a bit .

 

Not sure where you would be working Aaron but you could download a few apps to see current pricing. 

链家, 房天下, 安居客 are as good as any but you will have to sift through all the fake adds

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Jim

When I first moved to Beijing I stayed with friends who ran an advice hotline for gay people and as has been said, turns out there's gay people everywhere! Not sure if the hotline is still going but bet you could get pointers to friendly bars etc from someone, maybe via scene in Shanghai?

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somethingfunny

I think there are a lot of wechat groups these days.

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889

Ningbo wouldn't be my first, or second, choice as a home in China, but there are so many places much much worse. (I admit to a strong bias for the North against the South, though.). That is, relatively speaking, it's not bad.at all.

 

However, when you get a job in Ningbo or any other Chinese city, be sure you know precisely where you'll be working and living. Examine transport and shopping access in particular. You can technically be in "Ningbo" but in fact be far in the middle of nowhere.

 

 

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vellocet

Ningbo isn't 2nd tier, it's 3rd tier.  2nd tier would be provincial capitals like Hangzhou.  It can be a pretty hard life for someone who's used to demanding that the city entertain them.  In Ningbo and other 3rd tier cities, you frequently have to make your own entertainment.  When I used to live there, there were tons of people who never spent the weekend in town.  Every Friday they were off to Shanghai, not to return until Sunday night.  

 

It's a large area, check where you're going to be.  If it's Cixi or Beilun or one of the others, it's basically countryside.  Good for your Chinese, not so good for your social life.  5000 is plenty for a standard 3 bedroom apartment.  The local cuisine is very heavily seafood.

 

The smaller cities are what you make of them.  If you go in with the idea that you're going to live a smaller life and carve out your own path, you're going to do well.  If you're used to exciting things just happening and all you have to do is show up, you're gonna hate it.  

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DavyJonesLocker

Are you getting a full  working visa Aaron? 

 

With the proximity to shanghai, hangzhou, suzhou, nanjing etc it would be easy to do further (in person) interviews with better employers, so might be another factor in your consideration as to moving to China and ningbo. 

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歐博思

Seems like a numbers game to me. Assuming xyz percent of any population is gay, and Ningbo has fewer people than Shanghai, you can surely still meet the right dude, maybe just less of him. You could try a dating app like Tantan and set it to show only men to up your chances (maybe significantly). And then try and work your way into Beijing or Shanghai later if you still want because the following might happen:
 

12 hours ago, 889 said:

You can technically be in "Ningbo" but in fact be far in the middle of nowhere.

 

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Lu

I suppose it also depends on what kind of 'gay culture' you actually need. An opportunity to meet the right man? Chances are slimmer in Ningbo than in London, but as Ou Bosi says, there are surely still gay men there, some of them perhaps to your liking. Depending on your preferences and requirements, you might have better dating odds than a white woman. But if what you are looking for is a choice of gay clubs, bars, darkrooms and whatnot, all filled with partying gay guys, yeah, I think you probably won't find that in Ningbo. Or if you hope for gay film festivals, concerts or book clubs every other week, same thing: likely not in Ningbo. On the other hand, there are probably some places to go clubbing or watch arthouse films, even if they are not necessarily gay; or perhaps the local gay community doesn't have clubs but does have a monthly karaoke night.

 

And perhaps you will encounter something not inherently gay but uniquely Chinese that you find you enjoy (local Chinese opera, local dish at a roadside stall). China is an awesome place with a lot of interesting things to do and places to see. It'll broaden your horizon. And that is what you're looking for when you say you want to work abroad, no?

 

Lastly, if you really can't stand it, you can always go back. London is not going anywhere for the time being and your friends will still be your friends.

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Beelzebro

Used to live in Ningbo. It's a decent place, pretty well developed. I've also been to Hangzhou a couple of times and I would struggle to point out much of a difference between the two in terms of development aside from the Hangzhou subway being more complete, so I don't agree that Ningbo should be ranked in a tier below HZ. The location of Ningbo is pretty ideal as it's within easy train distance of Shanghai, Hangzhou and Nanjing, and flights to Korea or Japan (either from NB or from SH) are neither expensive nor long.

 

Can't really comment on the gay scene or clubbing etc as I'm not into that but the presence of the UNNC in the city means that there's a decent throughput of international students from the UK and other countries. Not sure what age you are though, if you're older I guess you may not want to hang out with people much younger than yourself. 

 

Btw off-topic but if you do end up going to Ningbo, check out the Indian restaurant called Ganesha and order Vegetable Manchurians. I ate an unreasonable number of those things.

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AaronUK

Thank you all for your thoughts about this. I've been quite apprehensive but it seems overall like a good offer, I'm feeling more positive about it but have yet to completely decide but it is working with an English University, Ningbo based (I'm sure you can guess) so I will have proper sponsorship and the location seems not to far out from the city center. No subway line there though.

18 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

Are you getting a full  working visa Aaron? 

 

I should do.. but they are all specific to the company that sponsors you I thought.

 

On 5/2/2018 at 10:30 AM, somethingfunny said:

Gay dating apps are also very popular in China, and if you're into that kind of thing, you'll probably have to be applying a pretty rigorous filter to get the numbers down to something manageable.

 

I had a look on western apps setting my location to Ningbo but it was empty, actually I looked on a Chinese equivalent (blue'd) and have found some local 'groups'. I don't know if that will pan out in any particular way but its slightly calming to see.

 

On 5/2/2018 at 11:14 AM, DavyJonesLocker said:

Being in a 2nd tier city will be a great life experience and the job will be a stepping stone to something else.

I have to agree, actually I think its rare to find a working environment that will be English orientated, my 'intermediate' (low) Chinese skills were considered as a nice to have but not necessary one bit for the role. Certainly I would really need more time living in China if I was to work in a Mandarin speaking role, so having a few years on my CV living and working in China is likely to help and I guess I might actually end up enjoying life in Ningbo anyway.

 

On 5/2/2018 at 12:27 PM, DavyJonesLocker said:

链家, 房天下, 安居客

thank you for the links..  just trying to navigate these in Chinese is pretty painful haha but good for an initial idea.

 

 

 

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DavyJonesLocker
2 hours ago, AaronUK said:

I should do.. but they are all specific to the company that sponsors you I thought.

 

Yes you're correct, I am just playing devil's advocate here. We have seen a few posts on the forum (if memory serves me correctly)  that an employer asks the person to come to China on a tourist visa first with the promise of converting it to a working visa. However I'd image any decent employer doesn't mess around like that. 

 

In any case you have breathing room to look for another job if you decide if  you decide the current job is  not for you. 

 

2 hours ago, AaronUK said:

thank you for the links..  just trying to navigate these in Chinese is pretty painful haha but good for an initial idea.

 

 

PLECO screen reader is your friend here, actually they are pretty easy to use. I have no idea what Ningbo is like for apartments but Beijing involves

1. Contact the agent about an add you see on the app. 

2. They tell you "sure", come see it, then bring you to something totally different and in different price on the back of a electric bike

3. Ring you 85 times a day convincing you to take some dump at a higher price than advertised.

 

I recently moved and actually I found the best way is to go to an area that you like, walk around have a coffee, get the feel of the place, go into a local estate agent and ask to see a few places within your price range, and ask for highest quality. "Good quality" = dump. Be insistent. i wouldn't accept a bathroom with a crappy shower hose that sprays the toilet and entire bathroom as you shower. You don't need good chinese at all, HSK 4 is more than enough!

 

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tooironic

I think there should be quite a few gay bars in Ningbo, though probably nothing as big as some of the ones in London. When I was living in Xiamen I noticed there were 4 or 5 at least, and that was just on the island itself. Now, Xiamen only has a population of 3.5 million... Ningbo on the other hand has 7.6 million, so I don't think it would be a big issue. With apps like Blued it's really easy to make gay friends and you'll very quickly be able to scope out all the venues. If you're worried about dating, don't. Foreign gay men in China are very popular, but I guess you know that already.

 

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somethingfunny
On 03/05/2018 at 3:41 PM, AaronUK said:

I had a look on western apps setting my location to Ningbo but it was empty, actually I looked on a Chinese equivalent (blue'd) and have found some local 'groups'. I don't know if that will pan out in any particular way but its slightly calming to see.

 

I'm not expert about these things, but it might also make a difference if you download the Chinese version from a mainland app store.  Something to do with the servers they use.  A friend of mine uses Blue'd a lot and seems to do fine.  There's something else called Jack'd, but thats more for the English speakers.  And like I said, there will be wechat groups you can be invited into which should give you access to a wider community.

 

It'll take some effort, and probably some time, but there should be something there.

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tooironic

Yes, that is correct. Blued and Blued International (国际版) are actually completely different apps. The original app used in mainland China has a huge user base and is very active in all Chinese cities.

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AaronUK

I want to thank you all again for your support, I have decided to accept and will be moving to Ningbo in the summer.

 

I have actually got in touch with a local expat to ask about the community and he decided to create a wechat group for 外国同志(tóngzhì) and gay friendly expats/locals. It went from 10 people to about 50 people in the space of a few days with invited people inviting others. Although some of them live in neighboring towns it’s still nice that I might be able to meet up with some people when I get there, they are actually arranging meetings already which is nice. 

 

The more I considered the role, the more it made sense to work in an English speaking environment in China, it is actually quite a luxury I might not get at any other company. In my work time at least I won't have to be stressed out or feel like I need to make up the distance in language while I am settling.

 

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Lu

That is great news, both that you are going and that you already found the local gay community. Thanks for the update, keep us posted once you are there!

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