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Goats On The Road By
Posted 27 Nov, 2012 | 21 Comments
Posted in: China, Our Story, Travel Blogs

After travelling the world for 16 months, we weren’t ready to go home and settle down, but we needed a bit of a break from backpacking.  Making the decision to move to Yangzhou, China and sign a 1 year contract teaching English was a no-brainer for us.  After backpacking through this massive country for about a month, we realized this is somewhere we could live.  We love the local people, the food is outstanding and it has a perfect blend of western comforts and exotic feel.

Teaching English is ideal.  Since we would be in a foreign country, the language, culture, food and way of life would be different, which would make us feel like we were still travelling; even though we would be putting down some temporary roots. Every day there would be somewhere new to explore, different customs and celebrations to take part in and new people to meet, which would keep our lives exciting!

accommodation in hong kong
Pretty sick of this tiny room after 10 nights! Kowloon New Hostel, Hong Kong

We flew from Vancouver back to Hong Kong at the end of June, 2012.  We ended up spending longer there  arranging our working visas than we would have liked.  Even though we had a lot of assistance from our new employers at the English school in Yangzhou, we still ran into a few bumps along the way.  Long story short:  we spent 10 days in Hong Kong and accomplished nothing!  We did enjoy some nights out on the town, doing a lot of walking, eating amazing Indian food (which we had been craving) and just hanging out.  We celebrated my birthday in style at Rocco’s, a delicious Italian restaurant with a long “happy hour” and scrumptious food.

going out hong kong
Happy Birthday Dariece! Getting ready for a night out on the town. Hong Kong

After realizing that we were getting nowhere fast, we decided to enter China on a ‘tourist visa’ first and sort out the working visa when we arrived in Yangzhou.  We took a 26 hour, overnight train from Shenzhen (border city with Hong Kong & China) to Yangzhou.  Once we arrived, everything fell into place and our lives changed, in a good way.

train shenzhen to hong kong
Waiting for the train in Shenzhen…we had SO much luggage for our move to China.
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The overnight train from Shenzhen to Yangzhou, China

We checked into the Yangzhou Ge Garden International Youth Hostel in the old town and since we are curious backpackers, we immediately wandered around exploring our area.  We weren’t sure where our English School was, but we knew we wanted to stay in the old part of town until we found our permanent residence.  After enjoying the day, we contacted our employers and arranged to meet up with them the next afternoon.

double room china hostel
Double Room at Ge Garden International Youth Hostel, Yangzhou, China

The first step was to find somewhere to live.  Somewhere we could call “home” for a year or more.  Yes, we’re backpackers and we’ve lived in huts, guesthouses, hostels, hotels, ashrams and done some camping, but we were looking for something a little more comfortable.  What we were shown was horrendous.  Bachelor suites about 35 square meters (350 square feet), with no couch, no stove, no laundry machine, the lowest ceilings we’ve seen, one tiny window, a fridge the size of an end table and the worst musty, damp smells ever!  We looked at each other and thought “what have we gotten ourselves into”.  We looked at 5 places that were just nowhere near habitable and were told to choose one.  We finally said “I don’t think you’re understanding what we’re looking for.  There are 2 of us, we want an actual bedroom, living room, dining room, bathroom and kitchen.  We want windows, something to cook food on and a ceiling that we won’t hit with our heads.  Is that too much to ask?!”  After searching for 3 days, our complaints were answered.

apartments in china
View from our apartment. Yangzhou, China

We have ended up with a beautiful, fully furnished, new, clean, 88 square meter (947 square foot) apartment.  We have a bedroom with a door, a kitchen with a gas stove, 3 meter (9.8 foot) high ceilings, a laundry machine and tiled floors.  The best part is that we are a corner suite so we have lots of windows and tons of light floods in.  Needless to say, all of our complaining and patience paid off.

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Our Apartment in Yangzhou, China. Just moving in!
apartment in china
View of our apartment from the door. Yangzhou, China
china apartment
The bedroom in our new apartment. It looks a lot different now! Yangzhou, China
china apartment
The toilet/shower/laundry room in our new apartment. Yangzhou, China
apartments in china
The very green kitchen in our new apartment. Yangzhou, China

We were given so much assistance when we first arrived, it was such a pleasant surprise.  We had heard first hand and read online about the horror stories of teaching English abroad.  People who had ended up with the worst contracts imaginable, working 40 hours a week, having no assistance from the school when it came to paying bills, finding an apartment and arranging all of the necessary working visa documents.  We have been given help with finding an apartment, doing the necessary medical checks, sorting out the documents for the working visa, hooking up internet and phone, paying utility bills and obtaining medical insurance.  We couldn’t be happier with all of the support we received, and continue to receive.

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Moving To Yangzhou, China

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21 thoughts on “Moving To Yangzhou, China

  1. Hello!

    I love your blog! Yangzou sounds like a great place to live. I am not that far away in Nanjing, also teaching English at a university. Looking for some place to work this summer. If you have time, patience and any suggestions of possible places to teach in Yangzhou, please let me know. I would appreciate it enormously.
    From a fellow traveler and teacher in China

  2. hello!
    What a great blog to stumble upon. My boyfriend and I are currently in Hong Kong trying to sort out our visa’s to teach English in Yangzhou also. Any recommendations for when we arrive? Also what apartment building is pictured above? It looks perfect!

  3. Hey Angela!

    That sounds exactly like what we were doing…spending time in Hong Kong sorting out visas for Yangzhou!

    Where are you teaching? Which school?

    We were staying in Qing Hua Yuan building on Wenchang Rd. in the west of Yangzhou. It’s near to the supermarkets and our school (Shane English School). It’s about a 20 minute taxi ride to the Old Town and the downtown area.

    A heads up – you will have to pay for your apartment’s security deposit (equivalent to one month’s rent), plus 3 months rent in advance. If you have an agent help you find a place (which is pretty much necessary), then you will have to pay them 1/2 of a month’s rent. You will also have to pay for the property management fee each month (10rmb/square meter). You will also have to pay for internet for the whole year and probably buy a cell phone.

    So, we suggest making sure you have enough money to cover these expenses…either that, or maybe you can borrow from your school.

    I hope this helps!
    Let us know if you have any more questions. We miss Yangzhou already!!

  4. Hey Angela,

    Our apartment was ¥2000/mo ($340) + ¥88 ($15) for property management. Great place close to Shane Head Office about a 25 minute walk / 15 minute bike ride (get a pedal bike for around $40-$50). We just downloaded everything and watched it hooked up to the TV from the computer. You can access KAT.ph from China but it’s still a good idea to get Freegate (for free) so you can access Facebook etc. There are good paid VPNs as well like Astrill and Hide-my-ass.
    Shane is a great school! We had an excellent time there and they’re very legitimate and honest. You found a good one!
    Keep in mind that when you arrive, you must pay for 3 months on your apartment, plus one month deposit! Also everything is paid a year in advance (ie internet and TV) so have some extra funds. If you don’t have the money the school will lend it to you free of charge.
    Yanghzou is really fun but the bars are Ma Ma Hu Hu (so-so in Chinese). There are some great places to weekend away within a few hours from Yangzhou so you’re in a great spot.
    If you have any more questions in particular, feel free to ask. And please mention that you saw Shane on this blog! Demi (the principal) will be very happy!
    Cheers and enjoy Yangzhou

  5. What a small world, you two did exactly what we are about to do. We are also going to teach at the Shane English School. The information you gave us about apartments is so helpful I think we will look at your old apartment building right away. If you dont mind me asking how much was rent per month? Also, is there satellite television or is this an option? (my boyfriend is worried about missing english soccer haha) Any advice about Yangzhou, Shane or life in general there would be incredibly helpful. Very happy that we stumbled upon your blog!

  6. Hi,

    Great blog. This makes it sounds like moving to Yangzhou can be interesting. I got the tickets and Visa ready and flying less than 48 hours. Sounds like a bit late to visit here. Its great to see you got a nice apartment to stay in, and I guess the rent is not that high. I used to pay the equivalent of more than 400-450 USD in UK and Singapore for just a small room. But how would you rate the living expenses? Wondering if I am staying alone and not planning to cook much, is 300USD sufficient including utiities, bills, transportation etc?

  7. We are moving to your area ( Zhenjiang) in this summer, but cannot find any nice large apartment for foreigners. How can I find an apartment like you? Could you introduce any realter for us?

  8. Hello Hiromi,

    We found our apartment when we were in China. We moved to Yangzhou and stayed in a hotel until we were able to find an apartment. We had Chinese friends communicate with the realtors there and were able to look at some places. It only took us about a week to find something we liked. You will want to see the apartment before agreeing to live there.

    Perhaps you new employer can help you find something?

    Good luck!

  9. Nice! Where are you teaching?

    Check out the Old Town for sure and Slender West Lake/surrounding parks. There are lots of squares and parks that you’ll find, as well as side of the road markets. You’re in a good location to go to Wuxi, Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou and Suzhou as well – recommend all of those cities.

    Enjoy, we love Yangzhou 🙂

  10. I’ll be teaching at Beijing New Oriental Foreign Language School at Yangzhou (long name!). After teaching in Suwon, South Korea earlier this year, I thought I’d try something new. Thanks for all the great information. It looks like you two had a good time.

  11. hi!
    My fiancée and I were both offered teaching contacts in Yangzhou. They will only give us one 1500 rob housing allowance since were living together. Any tips on a larger apartment since there’s two of us opposed to one? What company was your contract through? Did your contract include a housing allowance?

  12. Hi Lindsey,

    We taught for Shane English School. We were each given 800rmb for a housing allowance. My best advice for you would be to look at many apartments before settling on one. Lots of people get rushed in to choosing a place and aren’t happy after a couple of months there. Apartments in Yangzhou vary greatly. Ours was a one bedroom place and it was big enough for the both of us.

    Good luck 🙂

  13. Thanks! You mentioned paying 3 months rent and deposit up front, how did the allowance factor into that? Were the next three months just reimbursement since you already paid? Did your allowance cover all your rent or was there overage? Thanks.

  14. Yes, the next 3 months were reimbursed, so we had to come up with the money ourselves. Some schools will lend you money though if you don’t have it and you pay it back after you get your next couple of paycheques. Our apartment was 2,100 rmb a month and we were given 1,600 total, so we paid some out of our own pockets. We really liked our place so we felt it was worth it.

    Cheers.

  15. What is the name of the apartment building you lived in? I would like to use it as a reference. Thank you so much. Any areas to actively avoid?

  16. Great blog, I am currently reading it religiously! is there any way to get the visa’s before you arrive in China with the help of the school? I am in the processing of applying to Shane English school!

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