06/15/17

Moving to Guangzhou: Choosing where to live

Moving to Guangzhou for work, study or with a family is an exciting adventure and many problems have to be solved before one is settled in the City of Rams. One of the most common questions I get through email is where to live in Guangzhou. Which compounds are good with kids? In order to solve this, I asked my friends and accquittances to tell me a bit about how they chose which compound to live in Guangzhou.


Oakwood Gold Arch Guangzhou

Oakwood Gold Arch, Ersha Island

“I moved here because of the great expat community”.

“It’s close to the American school where I wanted my kids to enroll.”

“Ersha Island and especially Gold Arch is green, quiet, great for kids. We have a nice pool, playground, indroor playroom. Here it’s really easy to socialise with parents and other families. It’s also close to American School”

“My child goes to American School so most of his friends live here too.”

Canton Mansion

Canton Mansion, Liede

“We love the  community here. My children spend a lot of time with the local swim lessons, tennis lessons, playground and play dates. Convenient shops, delis and restaurants all downstairs.”

“The convenience of the location is what matters the most.”

“The facilities, service and location are perfect for us.”

Golden Lake Guangzhou

Golden Lake, Baiyun

“Nice environment and houses feel like living in USA, which is where we moved from. Good neighborhood feeling and supportive network.”

“Green area, pool and proximity of the school are important for us.”

Other compounds

One Link Apartments, Tianhe: “Easy access to public transportation and shops.”

Fraser Suites, Tianhe (next to One Link Apartments): “Central location is convenient and near metro station.”

Favorview Palace, Wushan: “The French school was located here when we arrive. Plus I liked the green areas. It’s also away from hustle and bustle of the city center.”

COSMOS, Zhujiang New Town: “Bright and spacious.  Within our budget and easy commute to office.”


How to choose?

When choosing the place to live inside Guangzhou, many expat families first consider the location of the school and then the location of the workplace. If there are multiple options, then things like greenery, play areas, transportation and local services come into play. Some prefer to be right in the city with convenient bus and metro routes, other prefer more quiet compound in Panyu or Baiyun districts.

In  the next post of the Moving to Guangzhou -series I’ll be sharing the reasons and tips on choosing which school to sign your kids in.

05/14/17

Being a Mother in China


I was recently interviewed about being a mother in China so I wanted to share my thoughts on a blog post as well.

I bet most of the things about being a mother are the same all over the world. The huge amount of love and worry it entails. But of course there are a few differences as well.

Being a foreign mother means that many of the things I do seem a bit weird to local moms. I didn’t sit the month after giving birth, I took my baby out even during the “cold” Winter days. Baby led weaning isn’t a huge thing here now, so a toddler stuffing her self spaghetti by hand gets a few looks.

At the same time it frees me to be the mother I want to be. I’m different anyway so doing strange things is just normal for waiguoren in the eyes of locals. Any odd comment can be brushed away by “oh we Finns just do things this way”, as most haven’t been out of the country or at least not that familiar with Finland.

Another huge thing about being an expat mother in China are the ayis! Having a full time live-in ayi 5 days a week is what keeps me going! Childcare in the safety of our home, cooking and cleaning as a bonus. It makes haggling work and family so much easier by having a good nanny.

When it comes to family relations, in Finland moms seem to be able to do what they want but also receive little help from grandparents or extended family. In China family is always eager to help, but also brings their advice and opinions to the mix. 


Being a mother for a mixed trilingual (at least!) daughter is going to be full of adventures, surprises and challenges. Her world is so different from the one I grew up in, I hope I’m able to guide her the best I can.

This Mother’s Day I’m very grateful to my own mother who has always encouraged me to follow my dreams.

And to my mother-in-law who is surprisingly open minded and tries her best even though her daughter-in-law might be a bit difficult at times.

Happy Mother’s Day to everyone!

05/1/17

Spring 2017 Greetings


I have been blogging for over 10 years, this blog started 7 years ago during my first Spring in Guangzhou. There have been quieter times, but the blog has survived through them. Hopefully will survive our crazy busy balancing a toddler and business life -years as well!


I rented an office in the beginning of the year and registered my Chinese teaching business. I’ve really been enjoying working for my self and having a dedicated work space! 

At the moment I have 12 private students and 7 small groups each week. The newest groups are Chinese Characters and HSK3 which is starting soon.


Anna is 1.5 years already and running around. She has just started speaking and can say a few words. Her two favorite words are baibai (bye bye) and Lucy (one of our cats).

We still have the same ayi with us since September and Anna has a great bond with her. Anna will most likely stay at home for another 1.5 years, because the kindergarten won’t accept kids until 3 years old.


It’s been a very busy and hectic Spring. Now I know why they call these years “busy years” or “traffic jam years” in Finland!

But no matter how busy, it’s very exciting time as well to see our daughter and both of our businesses grow day by day. 

02/1/17

Two Sides to Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year Lanterns

Chinese New Year is the most important holiday in China and an exciting time. Almost everyone gets a holiday, go back home and spend quality time with family and friends. This was my 8th New Year in China and I could write two very different posts about it, but instead I decided to compare the both sides in one post.

Worshipping gods and ancestors

Lovely Chinese New Year With Family

Spring Festival is an important time to spend with family and honor the ancestors as well. Offerings will be given to ancestors and then burned so they can enjoy them, dinner and special dishes are made for the family members to enjoy together. During this week-long holiday we have had many lunches and dinners with my husband’s family, relatives and family friends.

Speaking of family, this week was the first time after our daughter was born that me and my husband had a week-long holiday together at home. We took Anna out to parks, met with friends and even to a new horse stable that have opened near our home. It’s been a valuable time to spend with our daughter.

This holiday I’ve really enjoyed spending time with our family, going out to meet friends, eating good food and getting to relax with a movie.

Chinese New Year Firecrackers

Spring Festival of Obligations and Noise Pollution

One of the reasons my husband isn’t a big fan of Spring Festival are the countless obligations that come with it. You need to meet with lots of distant relatives and family friends you might not enjoy spending time with. You need to prepare lots of red envelopes with cash which creates a financial burden. And if you want to escape it all and go traveling, prices go up to double or triple during the Chinese New Year.

For us with a toddler at home, the fireworks and firecrackers brought up another set of problems. Getting our 1-year-old daughter to sleep was challenging with the loud noises all over the village. During the day she was also easily scared of the loud sudden noises. The firecrackers also severely affects the quality of air during the holiday.


Next year is going to be a new tradition for us as we are planning to travel out of China during the Spring Festival!

01/23/17

5 differences in driving a car in China and Finland

It’s now been over three months since I got my Chinese drivers license. Besides that small little accident back then, driving in Guangzhou has been much easier than I ever thought. Today I’m listing the top 5 differences in driving in China and Finland.

1 Giving way to pedestrians

In both Finland and China it’s a legal responsiblity of a driver to give way to pedestrians, but I rarely see it happen in Guangzhou. Why? One reason could be the huge population, meaning if you give way to one, you end up stuck in the crossroad for a long time before everyone has passed. Luckily most intersections in the city center has traffic lights to solve the problem. But as a pedestrian still be careful of those right turning cars even though you have a green light to cross the road!

2 Making U-turns

I rarely remember making a U-turn in Finland, but in a huge city like Guangzhou you can’t avoid them! Interesting detail is, that the U-turn lane can be anywhere: on the left, on the right, under the bridge or over the tunnel. So keep an eye on the road signs.

3 Changing lanes

One of the biggest challenges in driving here is the need to change lanes all the time, or even if you stick to your lane, others will be passing you all the time. In Finland you are supposed to drive on the right lane and only use the left lane to ovetake someone. In many cities, there are only one lane going in each direction. But Guangzhou is gigantic compared Helsinki and choosing the right lane in time is crucial. I’m often forced to go the wrong way just because I didn’t change to the correct lane in time. Baidu Map Navigator is my best friend here!

4 Being more aggressive

Because of the huge amount of cars on the road, there are more aggressive drivers as well who are unwilling to give way or don’t care about traffic violations. Everytime I drive here, I see cars changing lanes without signaling, excessive speeding, dangerous overtaking just to mention a few.

5 Lack of using seatbelts and child car seats

The awareness in road safety is increasing in China, but unfortunately it still has a lot to improve. My husband’s family and relatives have been surprised of our rule of not to drive even an inch if someone is without a seatbelt. Kids and babies are being hold in the backseat and sometimes their heads can be seen peeking out the windows. Guangzhou is already paying attention to educating the citizens by short movies in public transport, but I’m not sure how many are paying attention to them.


But even though driving in General is more dangerous in Guangzhou than in Finland, I rarely see any major accidents. Somehow the cars flow on the roads in a crazy manner, but mostly still out of collision distance.