Movin’ on up … to the first floor

Well, it’s official. Mags, Addie and I are all moving to a new apartment at the end of June.

We’ve been talking about moving for quite a while now, and with our lease up next month, it was time to either piss or get off the pot… alright, there was no pots, and I wouldn’t piss in one anyway – but yeah, it was time to make a decision.

Our current place is right downtown, and the centrality of it was a huge deterrent for me wanting to move. As little as I actually get out, it is nice being two blocks from Shi Quan Jie, Suzhou’s most active bar street.

I also really like our neighborhood. We are in a modest but nice two-bedroom apartment that is in a reasonably nice community. However, when you take two steps outside the community into the alleyway our apartment backs onto and you are thrown back half a century into where the “other half” lives – and I like it.

There’s just something inherently cool about cheap Lanzhou la mian, late night majiang, listening to the canter of the whores coming home at 2 a.m., and walking by folks who are unabashedly brushing their teeth or washing their hair in the lane way. It keeps it real, yo.

Plus, there’s an element of nature here too. Not only is our little compound swelling with plant-life and air full of jasmine and osmanthus, but our complex backs onto the southern end of the large canal that surrounds the city. The canal bank hosts a nice park that holds more trees than I’ve seen elsewhere in the city proper.

It’s not a bad place to live.

Alas, as close as it is to downtown, it isn’t close to Maggie’s yoga studio, and as she’s the one who has to trek through the hectic Suzhou traffic four times a day in what will soon be furnace-like temperatures on a bus that is 4x too full, she’s got some pull in the decision.

But don’t get me wrong – I’m keen on moving too. We’re moving out to Suzhou Singapore Industrial Park (SIP) – the up-scale expat end of town. My new community is directly across the street from a Starbucks, and is virtually surrounded by Western restaurants and supermarkets selling everything that will make me question if I’m even in China anymore.

What’s more, we’ve found an awesome apartment that suits our needs perfectly.

We met with the realtor on Saturday, essentially on a whim, knowing we had to get the apartment hunting started eventually.

The place we had arranged to see was in the same large community as a good friend of mine lives in, so I had some idea what it might look like. Little did I know it would be two floors down from him in the exact same building – coincidences abound in this country.

I was pretty much sold on the place within two minutes of walking into it. It’s a relatively large place – two bedrooms + an office, two bathrooms, a nice living room with lots of sunlight and – get this – a backyard!

With little Addie now firmly entrenched in our lives, the yard was the clincher. We were hoping of our new place to provide us with at least a balcony she could get out and get some fresh air on, but to have an, albeit small, yard to run out into completely exceeded our expectations.

So, I’ll be sad to leave this place. Since moving in last January I’ve become quite attached to it. However, as this is the 24th place I’ve called “home” in my life, I’m no stranger to moving and am certainly looking forward to being able to have a proper BBQ.

As mentioned, we move in at the end of June. I’ll be posting video and photos of the place then, and may finally deliver on posting video of my neighborhood here before we leave. Any new neighbours out in SIP, get in touch and we’ll grab a cheap Tiger beer at Mr. Pizza’s.

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  1. Pingback: Our Apartment in Suzhou SIP (video/photos) | A China Blog on Suzhou Expat Life | The Humanaught

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