Shenzhen is, by all means, a modern city, many consider it as China’s fastest progressing city on many levels and a window into the future of greater China. It’s home to over 10 million people and also home to many of China’s leading companies. It’s a Sub-Provincial city made up of the districts of Nanshan, Futian, Louhu, Yantian, Bao’an and Longgang plus Guangming and Pingshan new zones.
Shenzhen borders with Hong Kong and the South China Sea on one side and greater Guangdong on the other side, making it a popular base for many business people and companies who interface or trade between the Hong Kong, the West and the Chinese mainland.
Shenzhen’s industrial strength lies in the technology sector being home to companies such as Tencent, Lenovo, ZTE, Huawei and endless IT manufacturing bases, both large and small.
Population at 2012: 15 Million
Population in 1979: 30,000
GDP 2011: 1.15 trillion RMB
Area: 1,953 square KM
Number of Parks: 683
Number of Libraries: 631
Highest Peak: Wutong Mountain at 994 meters
Earliest records of ‘Shenzhen’ as a city: 1410
Average temperature: 22.4 Deg. Celcius
Average number of people who use the metro: 446,000
Number of public buses: 12,500
Number of Golf Clubs: 15
Average Income: 50,456 RMB (2010)
Air quality in Shenzhen, from experience, is far better than most cities in China. Although you probably wouldn’t want to stand beside a major road for too long, at least it’s escapable by getting away from the roadside. The government lists the city as level 2 on a scale of 1 to 5, see the list of Air Quality of Major Chinese Cities http://www.china.org.cn/english/MATERIAL/189327.htm
Transport in the city is of a high standard, with a modern bus fleet and bus routes providing a high level of coverage. The metro, aka subway rail system, is modern and under expansion, currently there are 5 lines providing connection to most districts of greater Shenzhen. The taxi fleet is also modern and getting a taxi at most times is not difficult. Taxi drivers are well mannered and there are few complaints about their service and prices are low by western standards but higher than most other cities in China. More on transport here shenzhenshopper.com/transport
There are several international schools in Shenzhen teaching in English right through kindergarten, middle school, and high school. There’s a great round-up of schools here: http://www.startinchina.com/shenzhen/life/international_schools_shenzhen.html
Renting an apartment in Shenzhen is more expensive than in other regions of china and there is a wide range of options that may not be available in other regions. Choices from bare budget basic studio apartments through to new luxury style apartments with sea views. More info see http://shenzhenshopper.com/living/renting-an-apartment-shenzhen
With at least ten major hospitals, Shenzhen’s health system is quite developed. China’s health system is a little different to that of some western countries in that everything is done at the hospital. Rather than going to a clinic to see a doctor, all the doctors are based at the hospital. The cost is also low, a visit to a doctor at the hospital can cost as little as ten RMB. There is a choice between Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western medicine depending on which hospital you choose. Hospitals include:
Shenzhen People’s Hospital
Tel: +86-755-2553 3018, +86-755-2553 1387 (Outpatient Dept.)
Add: Dongmen Road North, Shenzhen
Shenzhen Red-Cross Hospital
Tel: +86-755-8336 6388
Shenzhen Affiliated Hospital to Beijing University
Tel: +86-755-8392 3333
For grocery shopping, there are many western style supermarkets and smaller boutique shops stocking imported lines.
For eating out in Shenzhen is a special place, having so many migrant workers come to the city and establish a new life there is now restaurants offering all the cuisines of China. It’s not too difficult to find tastes from other regions of Asia, examples including Thai, Korean, Japanese and Indian restaurants which can be found at Shekou or at many of the major shopping malls. Western dining options are aplenty, including all the fast food giants and several Italian restaurants and western style coffee shops. More: Grocery shopping and imported foods in Shenzhen
The city has many parks and places to escape the hustle and bustle, some of which are quite beautiful. Most of the modern shopping malls have movie cinemas and some even have ice-skating rinks. There are several modern gymnasiums many with pools. Tennis courts are not too hard to find, along with basketball courts and the like. There are several art galleries and theaters for live performances. Night-life, in regards to nightclubs and bars, is well developed, particularly in Shekou and Futian. More about Entertainment and Things to do in Shenzhen
General observations: From a Western perspective, lifestyle in Shenzhen can be very good, if you are willing to make some adjustments and overcome language barriers. Some people have difficulty in trying to keep the life they had prior to China, others, that are flexible and open to learning new ways, often greatly enjoy their time and when it comes time to leave, they leave with truly great gifts. There are many stories of people who have come to China and left with a healthier lifestyle and outlook from the fusing of western and eastern culture.
Shenzhen is very foreigner friendly, and foreigners don’t look too unusual in the city, unlike other areas of China where foreigners are less frequent and tend to attract attention and interest of many Chinese. English is not widely spoken, but English speaking staff can be found in many hotels, in particular, western hotels. The district of Shekou has always been a popular base for foreigners featuring many western style apartments and homes, many western restaurants, bars, and clubs.
All in all, particularly people from a western culture, Shenzhen is an easy place to adjust to. Most of the new shopping malls feel very western feel, featuring coffee shops, bakeries and relaxing al-fresco cafes. Clothes shopping remains difficult for many who may prefer western styles or brands, or need big sizes, but there are a few Foreign markets with large sizes and western styles.