Daily Archives: April 23, 2012

Finding a Home

Looking for our new home!

We have looked at so many potential new homes, from high rise apartments in the down town area to spacious American style houses in the suburbs.  Having lived in the American suburbs for 15 years, and because the kids school is in the suburbs, this is where we find ourselves drawn.  It will mean a longer commute to work for me, but everywhere is a drive away in Shanghai.
The compounds (gated communities) are very secure and all have clubhouses with pools, play areas for the kids, little cafes, little shop and gym.  Most have a lot of planned activities for the family too. 
It is absolutely impossible to find a house yourself if you do not speak the language.  English is not commonly spoken here so you need a local expert who can liaise with all the property agents, security people and can drive you around.  Luckily we have such an expert!  Queenie is our lovely co-ordinator for all things Chinese.  She took time to listen to our requirements and then offered a good selection of houses for us to view.  We found a great place and we move from temporary accommodation this weekend.  Queenie has negotiated the lease (which includes all sorts of things we would never think to ask for) and she has summarized all the major points for us in English.  Luckily, again, I also have my company’s legal department review it, otherwise we would have no idea what we are signing! 
Things to get included: garden maintenance, whole house water filter replacement, international satellite service (connecting to the Philippines is supposed to be the best service, BUT it is illegal so would never be included in a formal document – all done off the record), management fee, clubhouse membership, wireless router, internet connection, appliances, and any furniture you need. 
Our furniture is on its way but the ship does not arrive until end of May.  Who knows how long it will take to clear customs!  (I expect that will depend on how large the bribe is from the shipping company!!!!!)  So, we will have a house full of rented furniture until then.
Best of all for Tetley – a garden!  Poor thing has had to get used to riding the elevator/lift for every outing.

Shopping for Food

Food shopping is quite the experience here.  First, you cannot find everything you need in one shop, so your mindset has to change about visiting multiple stores to get everything you need.  Obviously, everything is in Chinese so it takes so long to find the things you need, and even then, you cannot be sure you have bought the right thing.  It is fascinating to see the different foods here.  Here is a fruit that I have not tasted yet, would not even know how to open/prepare it but it certainly looks intriguing:

What do you do with this? How do you eat it? What is it called?

Fresh fish also has a different meaning here.  They are swimming in tanks and you can chose which one you want and then it will be prepared for you (often with the head left on!!)  Toads and Turtles are also in the tanks, but I am quite positive that I will not be trying those, at least knowingly.  Then there are the tanks of eels and shrimps.  We all love dumplings and I love all the displays of them.  They make them in front of you too. And then there are the snack displays – huge rows of pick and mix and I have no idea what any of it is.  Well, I have the next 2 years to start finding out!! 

Pick and Mix Snacks