Monday, September 03, 2007

The way we live now

At work, we have been pondering the problem of how our Chinese partner schools can attract and keep good teachers (without paying them a decent salary - which, of course, they don't want to do!). I have suggested that the huge variations in the local cost of living are a factor to be taken into consideration, and have asked one of my Chinese colleagues to try to root out some (reliable?) figures on this.

The impression I get from my travels is that Beijing is quite a bit cheaper than almost any of the coastal cities (or the more touristy places); only about two-thirds as expensive as Shanghai, and perhaps less than half as costly as Hong Kong. It is, however, quite a bit more expensive than places further inland like Wuhan and Chongqing; a lot more expensive than unfashionable grimeholes like Zhengzhou or Qiqihar (the latter of which is, as the Lonely Planet Guide to China observes [in one of its only good jokes], "more fun to say than to visit").

We will see what the research turns up.

I am reminded that some years ago I applied for and very nearly got a teaching job in a private school in Bermuda. In my childhood I had been mildly fascinated with the island, because an elderly neighbour of ours that I used to keep company on odd afternoons here and there, a sort of surrogate granny, had family who lived out there and was always waxing lyrical about how beautiful it was. As I grew up, the attraction waned. I recall hearing more dismissive assessments about it (particularly from an ex-Navy CPO who worked at the school where I taught, who'd visited often and not taken to it). I remember particularly the jibes that it was "the most middle-class place on earth" and "the world's biggest Country Club".

The background info provided by the headmaster of this school only served to reinforce this image. He gave me an extremely long 'cost of living guide', which he had apparently prepared himself, and which was full of items like (I swear I am not making this up!):
Green fee for a round of golf
A tailored suit
Cocktails for two
Dinner in a reasonably fashionable restaurant

There was no reference to street food or the price of a case of the local beer.

I decided it was not the place for me.


1 comment:

omg said...

Tee hee. To each his own, I suppose. But there is the upside of the snazzy shorts with blazers.