Information about living in Xian China

A reader sent me some good questions the other day and I wanted to pass them and my answers on to anyone who could use this information. If you have any questions about Xian, feel free to write me.

Enjoy this day,


1- Is there any kind of nursery school? In which language (English, French, Chinese)? At what age? At what cost? We have a one-year-old boy and we might stay in China until he’s 4 or 5.

There are a couple of school options for you. We send our kids to a small community center where they have classes 3 times a week in Chinese. It’s VERY affordable depending on how much your child goes it costs anywhere from 1800RMB to 3000RMB a semester ($265USD - $450USD). Our girls started when they were 2 1/2 , going twice a week.

There’s also an International School here where many foreigners send their children, it’s just quite a bit more expensive (I wanna say it’s like $10,000USD a semester).

2- Is it easy to get a nanny/maid to take care of the house and children? Does she have to sleep at home or is it possible not to have her sleep at home? How much does it cost?

Yes, it is very easy to hire a nanny to watch kids, cook and clean your house. And no, they DO NOT have to live with you. In fact, most do not live with the people who’ve hired them. It’s also very cheap to hire this kind of help. It’s changing a little bit right now, but you can find help for between 10RMB and 15RMB an hour ($1.50 to $2.30 an hour).

3- Are there some activities for little children: parks, other activities?

Yes. We have 3 kids (5 year old, 3 year old and a 8 month old) and we’re foster caring a Chinese orphan (she’s 3 ½) and there’s a lot to do with them. Not only do most of the apartment complexes have playgrounds, but also most of the grocery stores have bigger indoor playgrounds. Cleanliness can be an issue with some of these options.

4- Is it easy and cheap to buy some usual objects necessary for kids (childcare like strollers, car seats, …, clothes, furniture)?

I think it’s relatively cheap. For example we bought a stroller for around $75USD a couple years ago and it’s worked out well for us (and I’m sure there are cheaper options). There are plenty of children’s stores to get these kind of things at. Finding good clothes isn’t always easy. Before you come you should check out a website called taobao.com, it’s an online Chinese store that ships all over China. It’s very reasonably priced and a big selection. It’s in Chinese, but if you use Google Chrome it will translate it for you.

5- Do you both take Chinese lessons? If yes, how and what does it cost?

Yes. Both my wife and I go to school. I go to a private Chinese school and it costs me around $1300USD a semester for 6 hours a week of one-on-one. You can go to a local college to study Chinese for cheaper than that, but it demands more hours. My wife has a tutor -which is helpful for her and her schedule- and that costs 30RMB an hour (around $4USD). Having even survival Chinese can make life here so much more convenient and I would recommend getting even a little if you can.

6- Are there many foreigners living in Xian

Yes and no. For example, in Beijing you will see foreigners pretty often, maybe every time you leave your home. Here in Xian that’s not the case. You could be out all day and not once see another foreigner. But at the same time if you live in a nicer community and apartment complex, there’s a better chance of foreigners living around you. Also, there is a good ex=pat community here. Once you’re plugged in you will find many people to build friendships with.

7- Do I need a car for me to move around the city? Or is it easy to move with buses, subway, little cabs?

You can absolutely live life here without a car. I don’t know any foreigner families here who have a car and all of us use exactly what you mentioned, buses, taxis, bikes, even walking can get you to most of your errand locations. I personally would rather skip the hassle and instead use the public transportation.

Thanks again for the great questions, keep them coming.

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