When deciding on a neighborhood to call home, first consider its proximity to your place of work—it’s important to try to avoid a long commute. Jobs are available throughout the city, with most concentrated in the business district of Dongcheng and the surrounding district of Chaoyang. The neighborhoods highlighted here are the most popular areas for foreigners (specifically Westerners) to reside.
Dongcheng and Xicheng: The urban business district encompassing the very center of the city is split into East and West. The eastern half, Dongcheng, hosts many of the more well-known tourist sites such as Tiananmen Square, the entrance to The Forbidden City (begging for attention under Mao’s iconic portrait), and the Lama Temple. Wangfujing Street in Dongcheng is China’s storefront, home to the Nike flagship store and many other Western luxury brands including Hermes and Rolex, and plenty of upscale Chinese brands. Xicheng, the western half, is best known for its scenic hutongs, narrow alleyways outside of traditional courtyard residences. The Capital Museum and the Houhai nightlife area are also in Xicheng. Dongcheng and Xicheng are good neighborhoods for those looking to be centrally located and within walking distance of the city’s most important cultural sites.
Chaoyang: Popular with foreigners, this large district surrounding Dongcheng is served by subway line 10 and is home to many foreign embassies and popular expat hang-outs like Sanlitun Village and Chaoyang Park. The CBD, or Central Business District, is also located within Chaoyang. Chaoyang is the wealthiest and most modern of all of Beijing’s neighborhoods. Most young expats live in this neighborhood because it offers every Western luxury and is still very close to many of the historical sites in Dongcheng. Key landmarks in Chaoyang include the Beijing Olympic Village, Lucky Street, The Silk Market, and 798 Art District.
Haidan: A mostly suburban district on the outskirts of Beijing, Haidan is the city’s University district. It is also China's central technology hub and has been dubbed "China’s Silicon Valley." This district is relatively far removed from the center of the city—roughly an hour's ride by subway—but for students and teachers in the area there are plenty of local restaurants and bars to enjoy. Haidan is Beijing’s “college town” within the city, but unless you plan on working or taking a class at one of the many universities in this district, it is fairly isolated and far removed from the actual city of Beijing. Here you can also find The Summer Palace, Wudaokou, and the Beijing Botanical Garden.