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While I haven't moved beyond a 1km-circle, I feel that I've upped my status by a degree, and I don't intend to back down. For me the selling point was the dining table; for the first time in two years I'm not bending over a tv-facing coffee table to eat every day.
The new digs weren't necessary, but certainly invited. At first I wasn't so keen on moving, as I was signed on to a one-year contract that would require breaching. But my 'family' was growing, and needed more space. My girlfriend Liuliu took the initiative of seeking a new pad. For a while I was resistant, but when she booked a viewing I obligingly accompanied her, and what I saw changed me.
My new apartment is about 50% bigger than my old one. It also has a dining table, and a large living room. But the clincher was the rent, only 4% more than my previous place. I now pay 3500CNY/month (about $630 at the current exchange rate), and I live in the same area as before, only a 10min walk from the Guomao city-centre (of course, Beijing is too big to have one downtown, but this one is the 'traditional' downtown). It's 110m²(1200sq.ft) and fully furnished. My last place was short a bed in the spare bedroom.
My area is called 百环家园 (baihuan jiayuan), which means 100-ring park. Not sure why.
The New Digs
the spare bedroom
Another good reason for the move was the small zoo I'm now supporting. I have a kitty and a puppy; my life has blissful moments, and of course, many more are absolute chaos and frustration. Our cat (Asa) was born around July '08, so is now about 10 months old. Our puppy (Bailey) was born on Feb.2nd, '09, and so is only 2 month old as of now. We had our cat first, and when they first were introduced to eachother there was some predictable furor on Asa's side, but now they play together all the time.
Here are some photos of the new members of my family.