Chengdu is the capital of the Sichuan province of China, which is mostly famous for having the most popular food in the country and being one of the central focuses of China’s wildlife conservation efforts for the lovable and iconic panda bears. While Chengdu doesn’t have the name recognition of tier 1 cities like Beijing or Shanghai, it’s a thriving metropolis with an amazing history and culture all its own. This will be a short list of reasons why Chengdu should be on your list of best places to work in China:
- The salary for Chengdu is incredibly reasonable when the cost of living is factored in, which also means that living accommodations tend to be nicer than in the middle of more overpriced tier 1 cities. A nice one bedroom apartment costs less than half the going rate in Beijing. The starting salary is a little lower, but the cost of living is also 30% to 40% less, so the savings end up being around the same or more.
- Foreigners are more in demand, which can lead to better treatment and greater potential to expand one’s salary on the side. While Chengdu is sizeable, in fact it’s the capital of the province, it doesn’t have quite as much of an international presence as a tier 1 city, which leads to some wonderful opportunities for foreigners to fill that void.
- The cuisine is thought by most to be the best in the country. Most foreigners are already familiar with it because of kung pao chicken, but they also have many other delicacies, including Sichuan hotpot, where meat and vegetables are selected from the menu and drowned in a hot broth and dipped into a sauce the diner can create themselves.
- It’s surrounded by natural beauty. Chengdu is right next to one of the best national parks in the country, Jiuzhai Valley National Park, which features some of the most amazing waterfalls and landscapes in the country. Chengdu has four seasons unlike the more humid southern provinces of China, so the autumn season at Jiuzhai is considered one of the most fantastic things to experience in the entire country.
- Pandas—The biggest and best nature reserve in the country is right near Chengdu. If interacting with pandas and other endangered wildlife is of interest, there aren’t many stronger options available in the country.
- If any of this list gives the impression that Chengdu is a small town, don’t believe it. Chengdu has a population of over 10 million people. It has a convenient and inexpensive subway system. High speed rail links it to almost all of the other major cities in the country, including Chongqing, which is only around 2 hours away. It has an international airport for those who plan on using their massive amounts of vacation to see other countries. Taxis are much less expensive in Chengdu even though they are cheap across the country, starting at 8 RMB, a little over a dollar.
- Chengdu has the benefit of being ancient yet incredibly modern in terms of living conditions. Teachers can expect to have a furnished one bedroom apartment with all the western amenities they are accustomed to. However, since Chengdu has so much historical significance, there are many ancient wonders to explore, including gorgeous pagodas and many historic towns and monasteries. It’s an incredible treat to have a developed city with such a wonderfully preserved preponderance of historically significant landmarks.
- It’s not all dry history and pagodas—Chengdu is home to several universities and thus has a robust nightlife. Expats can find each other on Wechat (China’s most important app) groups and hit up all of the local pubs and food streets or enjoy some dancing at a club. The people from Chengdu and Sichuan like to joke that they are as hot and spicy as their food.