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Suit's Lifestyle Plan for September 2017
#1
I have now been permanently located in Beijing for over three years and previously lived in China for another three years in total, divided into shorter blocks of time.

When I moved back here, I had recently finished school and had no money to my name. I used a credit card to get myself started. I've worked hard for the past three years, working through a series of full-time jobs until I had a good enough client list to simply do teaching and consulting work by the hour, which pays a better hourly wage than any related full-time job in China.

Now that I've established myself with a reliable client list, my newest goal is establish a more livable lifestyle that I can comfortably enjoy for the next few years. I don't plan to stay in Beijing forever, but getting myself to my current income level somewhere new would be both difficult and time consuming, so it's best that I take full advantage of my current income until my student debt is paid off and I'm ready for a shift to a more business-based form of income.

Over the past two years, I've worked 6 days a week every week, except when on vacation. Until January of this year, vacations were very rare and very short. As of January, I'd reached enough financial stability to take a month off and visit Malaysia and Singapore. It goes without saying that working that much, especially with a schedule the includes evening hours almost every day, is not conducive to a good lifestyle. It makes it hard to have a social life and difficult to pursue hobbies, especially in a big city like Beijing, where it can take an hour or more to do many commutes. You don't want to go to more places each day that you absolutely have to.

However, with my client list earning me more money than ever and offering stability, I'm preparing to make the following changes in September.

Establish a 5 Day Work Week

I make most of my money on the weekend, so I'll continue working Saturdays and Sundays, but beginning in September, I'll start taking Thursdays and Fridays off. This will allow me the benefits of having a full day of rest if I need it, while being able to engage in weekend activities Friday night if I wish. It's hard to do things like host house parties Sunday-Thursday nights, as most people need to work the next day, so having Friday off in particular will be a huge benefit to my social life. As well, most social activities and events are organized on either Friday or Saturday night, so if I wish, I can access many opportunities I haven't been able to take advantage of since my client schedule filled up.

Begin to Pursue Healthy Active Hobbies

I'm going to get back into biking and indoor climbing. I've enjoyed these things in the past and am eager to do them again. I've made the decision to live in the west of Beijing at the west end of line 6, which puts me very close to good mountain biking territory, but allows me to access the center and east of the city by subway and scooter is I wish.

Biking is a 8 or 9 month activity in Beijing due to cold weather in the winter, but with a western location I can do it on some low traffic roads with few intersections even in the mornings of days I work.

I'll have to travel further afield to do climbing activities as all the good gyms are in the east, which means that I need to do this on one of my days off.

Start Hosting Parties Again

My social life has suffered in the last year as I focused on work, especially product development and maximizing my income. I need to rebuild and will start hosting small events (6-12 people) at my apartment on Friday nights. My goal is to do this at least twice a month.

Go To Expat Networking Events Again and Make A Point Of Talking To Other Expats At West End Watering Holes

Self explanatory. I need to meet some new people, especially those who actually live in my area of Beijing.

Buy Some Nice Things

I don't spend much money on myself, aside from clothes, food and occasional travel. However, since I expect to be in Beijing for at least another 3 years, I'm going to spend a little money on some nice things, like a few guitars and a decent road or mountain bike. I also plan to update and rebuild my wardrobe.

Establish Myself In A Long Term Apartment That I Really Like

I've been using airBNB for about half a year now to avoid locking myself into a place that I don't particularly care for. Doing so has allowed me to save up enough money to get a place that I actually like. Landlords here usually want three months rent, plus a deposit up front and if you use an agent to locate a place, they want a month's rent for their trouble as well.

That means that just to move in usually requires having 5 months upfront, which is more money that I usually care, since I invest most of my earnings back into the business I'm building.

In September, I'll have enough cash on hand to rent a place that I really like. If I don't find a place I really like right away, I'll just stick with airBNB a little longer.

Having an apartment well suited to my needs will go a long way in benefitting my standard of living and avoiding certain hassles.

My requirements are a place with a large living room (for events) in building that is solid enough to avoid annoying other residence with noise when I have guests visit and a decent kitchen. It'll need to modern, as older Chinese apartments look like prison cells and generally sap the creative energy out of your limbs.

Get In Shape

I've been dieting since May to get myself down about 10kg, which is all I need to lose. In September (or October), I'll look for a good gym and get a membership. It'll need to be a place with a swimming pool and otherwise clean facilities. Naturally, it'll have to be close to my apartment, which is why I need to settle my housing situation first.

I will start a fitness program and supplement it with biking, swimming and climbing.

I will also look for a casual soccer team to play with Thursday or Friday nights.

Start Intentionally Studying Chinese

I'm semi-fluent in Chinese and generally don't have trouble communicating, but I definitely want to be fully fluent in three years time. After two years (at which point my student debt should be paid all the way down), I plan to just work on the weekends (when I earn most of my money anyway) and study in a formal program Monday-Friday), but it won't hurt me to memorize 1000 new words in the next two years.

I'll dedicate some time to this each week and possibly hire a tutor for a few hours a week to help me with speaking.

Spend Three Months Outside China Each Year

Living in China is stressful. My plan, beginning in 2018, is to spend most of January and February outside of the Chinese mainland and take a four weeks off in the summer as well. This will be a part of my transition away from doing hourly work into selling the products that I am currently developing.




I'm posting this here to get it organized and written out for my purposes, but I'd appreciate any feedback or suggestions the forum members have to offer.
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#2
I don't have any feedback or suggestions since you're alpha af and clearly have a plan as to where you're going (admiring hard)

Do have a question though if you don't mind...

How much is the premium (if any) to stay in Airbnb vs. rental? I'm guessing you pay monthly?

Cheers,
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#3
(07-15-2017, 05:51 AM)whiteknightrises Wrote: I don't have any feedback or suggestions since you're alpha af and clearly have a plan as to where you're going (admiring hard)

Do have a question though if you don't mind...

How much is the premium (if any) to stay in Airbnb vs. rental? I'm guessing you pay monthly?

Cheers,

I pay roughly the same, as the Airbnb rentals are short term, so I take a cut in overall quality to keep cost down.

If I was renting a place for a year, I'd obviously want something that was better quality, since I would be stuck with it for a while.

So the price differential isn't much.

If I wanted the same quality that I would expect from a long term rental, I'd probably pay 20-30% more. The other advantage of airBNB is that if I put my stuff in storage when I travel, it is potentially cheaper than renting (although incredibly inconvenient).
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#4
Six years in Chinar and you don't regularly leave?! How the hell can you do that and not want to kill yourself?

Also how is it in the west of Beijing? Seems like the "action" in that city is concentrated in the north and east, and that western and southern ends don't have many expats, no?
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#5
You seem to have it pretty good.

Get a job a be able to take almost 3months off per year is great. I am "blocked" in China 11 months per year but I am doing fine. If you stay in Beijing all the time I guess, leaving in winter is a must to avoid the cold and the pollution.

Surprise that you are still living in AirBNB, but I would actually like that. Many Chinese landlords usually asked for the first 6months of the rent so staying in AirBNB gives you a lot of flexibility. I have spent most of my time in hotels over the last 4years and I have just a place in Jiangsu where I can drop my stuff. Curious about the rents in Beijing.

Spending time with other expat is always something I want to do but end up regretting after. Many are full of negativity and have a bad influence on my mind. So I spend most of my time with chinese colleagues. Also the more time you spend with Chinese, the more you learn Mandarin. Just be careful of not putting "er" everywhere as Beijing ren do.

Meishi er
Ni qu na er?
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#6
(07-15-2017, 07:32 AM)shalabadoo Wrote: Six years in Chinar and you don't regularly leave?! How the hell can you do that and not want to kill yourself?

First off, my first three years in China were divided over 5 distinct periods of time. It helps to spread it out. The first two trips were just semester length.

As for the past three years, it helps that I've minimized my income from full-time visa granting sources and concentrated on growing my side work into a
full-time revenue stream. This cut down on how much my various employers could fuck with me.

However, my stress reduced significantly when I went from working 22 hours a week for a single employer to just 15 (5 mornings a week, 3 hours in straight stretches) where the staff were mostly competent people who I liked working with. In fact, the biggest dickhead of all, aside from the owner of the school, was an Australian guy who literally assaulted me and then challenged me to a fight once on school grounds.

Once I went over to a tourist visa and worked exclusively for my handpicked clients, my daily stress reduced to its lowest level.

Outside of dealing with assholes in traffic, who would rather run down pedestrians than lose face and occasional issues related to housing (mostly minor problems), my life is pretty comfortable here. I speak Chinese, so communicating is easy, I never have trouble finding addresses, making purchases or doing other essential things.

That being said, it's definitely good for mental health to get outside of China from time to time, which is why I'll be incorporating doing so into my annual schedule.

(07-15-2017, 07:32 AM)shalabadoo Wrote: Also how is it in the west of Beijing? Seems like the "action" in that city is concentrated in the north and east, and that western and southern ends don't have many expats, no?

It is very much in east, in the north of Dongcheng District and the eastern center and eastern north of Chaoyang. However, there is also WuDaoKou, the student entertainment district, which while it does suffer from a lack of quality venues, it has some very decent ones. It's right off 4th Ring Road, so if you near the Ring on the West and have wheels, you can be there is 30-40 minutes.

I'm planning to settle into WuLuJu which would put me only 20 minutes from WuDaoKou by scooter and 40 minutes from SanLiTun by subway.

The best thing that has happened to the west end of Beijing in a long time is a new entertainment district. It's still limited to one large complex, but it already has more quality venues than WuDaoKou and a major underground music venue will be opening sometime this month. This is in the WuKeSong area. It changes the game quite a bit. I wouldn't have considered living in the west long term if it wasn't for this new development just within the last several months.

The BaBaoShan area (further west in ShiJingShan) has shown promise, with a lot of Westerners working in that area as well. But expat bars in that area invariably fail because they both fail to satisfy the Chinese locals and offer a place that feels like home to the expats. There was a new one that replaced the last to close that just opened in the last two months that I vowed never to return to after a few visits based on the ridiculous behavior of the Chinese owner's friends who act like they own the place.

At this point, even my Chinese friend in BaBaoShan prefers to go to WuKeSong with me as he's decided that the quality of the beer in BaBaoShan venues (outside of that which is for sale in speciality stores) is lame. He's taken a liking to microbeers at a very well run Chinese owned place in WKS.

It used to be that the only place to get a good microbeer was at a foreign owned place, but NBeer has succeeded in Chaoyang and has opened a very respectable venue in WKS. I've been going there a lot. Service is good, the beer is most excellent and the food is surprisingly delicious.

(07-15-2017, 08:24 AM)TigerT Wrote: You seem to have it pretty good.

Get a job a be able to take almost 3months off per year is great. I am "blocked" in China 11 months per year but I am doing fine. If you stay in Beijing all the time I guess, leaving in winter is a must to avoid the cold and the pollution.

That's because I don't have a job. I have over a dozen clients and I can drop any that become to much trouble, as I have a waiting list for my time.

Winter is a great time to get outside of Beijing. The weather sucks, I have to use subway rather than my scooter for travel longer than 20 minutes to avoid freezing and the pollution tends to be an issue.

That's why I've arranged things to allow me to leave for most of January and February.

(07-15-2017, 08:24 AM)TigerT Wrote: Surprise that you are still living in AirBNB, but I would actually like that. Many Chinese landlords usually asked for the first 6months of the rent so staying in AirBNB gives you a lot of flexibility. I have spent most of my time in hotels over the last 4years and I have just a place in Jiangsu where I can drop my stuff. Curious about the rents in Beijing.

Very high for what you get.

(07-15-2017, 08:24 AM)TigerT Wrote: Spending time with other expat is always something I want to do but end up regretting after. Many are full of negativity and have a bad influence on my mind. So I spend most of my time with chinese colleagues.

The trick is to avoid the wrong type of expats. It's actually not hard to do, in my experience. I generally find myself mostly hanging out with expats who speak Chinese. The ones who don't tend to be far more pissy.

(07-15-2017, 08:24 AM)TigerT Wrote: Also the more time you spend with Chinese, the more you learn Mandarin. Just be careful of not putting "er" everywhere as Beijing ren do.

Meishi er
Ni qu na er?

I'm proud of my Beijing pronunciation. When I go to Shenzhen, I'm the guy from Beijing, not a foreigner from Canada.
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#7
Yeah nobody wants to sound like some lispy Taiwanese.
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#8
(07-15-2017, 05:51 AM)whiteknightrises Wrote: I don't have any suggestions since you're alpha af and clearly have a plan as to where you're going (admiring hard)

This is what my current bedroom looks like. I picked it on the airBNB website specifically because I liked the vibrancy of the color scheme.

[Image: Dulux-Walltastic-Princess-Mural-HR.jpg]
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#9
Suits it is refreshing to see such a well laid out plan from a younger man. This is where when I was younger I think i could of benefit from a forums such as this, for a day when frustrated or tired I could look back and see how well I have stuck to my plan and see the encouragement from others.

Though most of us here will never meet in person the like mindedness of this forum's Men is refreshing and lacking in my current social circles.


Curious did you go to university back home and intern in China, or did you also go to school in china?
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#10
(07-15-2017, 11:38 AM)BarbarianFather Wrote: Suits it is refreshing to see such a well laid out plan from a younger man.

I stopped feeling young when I turned 31.

(07-15-2017, 11:38 AM)BarbarianFather Wrote: This is where when I was younger I think i could of benefit from a forums such as this, for a day when frustrated or tired I could look back and see how well I have stuck to my plan and see the encouragement from others.

Though most of us here will never meet in person the like mindedness of this forum's Men is refreshing and lacking in my current social circles.

Part of why I decided to post this thread was to encourage strong community among the members of this forum. The best way to start building community is to learn more about each other and actual discuss what is going on in our lives.

(07-15-2017, 11:38 AM)BarbarianFather Wrote: Curious did you go to university back home and intern in China, or did you also go to school in china?

I didn't do any post-secondary in my home country. I split my time between China and the US during university schooling phase of my life, a phase that lasted almost 9 years. I also took time off in that period to return to my country of birth to work periodically.

I started with a study abroad program through my university, learned almost no Chinese, and decided to come back independently and go with a better language program. I did two semesters this way.

After that, I started coming just to work for a year at a time. I realized quickly that I learned a lot of Chinese just doing day-to-day activities involving people who didn't speak English. I'm a lazy student, so I made a point of putting myself in situations where I had no choice but to speak Chinese. Got a lot of practice this way and made a ton of improvement.

I tried out a language class at one point and the instructor was real shocked by my speaking skills, because my other skills suggested a limited classroom education. She was confused how someone could learn Chinese without sitting in a classroom.

Given the job market in Canada (my home country) and the success I'd already had earning money in China previously, once I finished university, the obvious choice was to simply settle here.
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#11
Not sure if you answered this as I haven't read through the entire thread yet, but how much were you making per month working only 15 hours a week?
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#12
(07-15-2017, 12:54 PM)Vic Vega Wrote: Not sure if you answered this as I haven't read through the entire thread yet, but how much were you making per month working only 15 hours a week?

I was working 15 hours a week for one employer, but I used my evenings and weekends to do a ton more hourly work.

The one 15 hour a week job paid about 100 RMB per hour or just under 8K per month after tax.
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#13
Love your bedroom. The face of the girls, when you take them back home, should be priceless.

I guess you've got a point about the laowai. I don't usually spend long enough in one place to meet the goods ones so I have grown incredibly frustrated about it to the point I prefer to avoid them to be disappointed. Being in Beijing full-time, you should have better opportunities to meet the ones you want to hang out with.

I guess that since I will have to spend 6 months at the same place, I will have to give them another chance.

Very curious to see the development of your life from your plans. Really good to see and inspiring.
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#14
(07-15-2017, 02:00 PM)TigerT Wrote: I guess you've got a point about the laowai. I don't usually spend long enough in one place to meet the goods ones so I have grown incredibly frustrated about it to the point I prefer to avoid them to be disappointed. Being in Beijing full-time, you should have better opportunities to meet the ones you want to hang out with.

I guess that since I will have to spend 6 months at the same place, I will have to give them another chance.

I can't really speak for the quality of expat types outside of Beijing. I have no idea, as I've only lived in Beijing and Tianjin. The quality wasn't great in Tianjin, much better in Beijing. I have friends in Shenzhen who have met good people there.

If you hang with someone once and all they do is bitch about China, keep looking.

That being said, we all need to bitch about China from time to time.
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#15
I got some of the same goals.

Get in shape (buying gym membership tomorrow actually)

Get back into healthy hobbies (basketball, tennis etc)

Get a nice apartment

Buy some nice things (new macbook, iphone 8, slim PS4, new wardrobe etc)

Begin studying Vietnamese

My other goal is to find a quality girl for a LTR. One I am truly satisfied with both physically and mentally.
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