With many types of accommodation in the area, from small, inner city dwellings, to more spacious abodes as you emanate out from the hub, Suzhou should be a consideration for any expat seeking a taste of the East.
Sat within the Jiangsu Province of Eastern China, Suzhou sits around 95 km west of Shanghai, and covers an area of approximately 8,400 square kilometers, with about one third of this being water. The population in the city itself is in the region of 4.3 million people, rising to a figure around eleven million for the entire administrative area.
The population in the area, which has undergone some significant economic growth in recent years, consists of approximately ninety-seven percent Han Chinese nationals, with only three percent coming from other ethnic groups. A large proportion of these three percent are British expats.
Suzhou is among China's Top 20 largest cities by population size, and the second largest within Jiangsu Province, behind nearby Nanjing.
Suzhou has a rather diverse and interesting climate, best described as humid and sub-tropical. The weather is heavily affected by the monsoon, a fact that is shown by the average monthly rainfall figures, which range from less than 3 mm in November, to over 190 mm in March.
The weather is generally warm in Suzhou, the only exception to this being during winter, when northerly winds blow from Siberia. Peak summer temperatures can reach into the thirties (Celsius), even pushing towards 40°C. Humidity remains around sixty-five to eighty percent all year round.
The visa system for China can be a complex one. You can find a detailed overview of the different visa categories, as well as details on the application process, in our dedicated guide on How to Get a Chinese Visa.
Generally speaking, expats moving to Suzhou in order to work and stay in the country will need a long-term work visa, or Z visa. Documents required to attain this visa include a medical certificate, employment license, and a letter of invitation. Once you have acquired a Z visa and have settled in China, you will need to register your residence and get a temporary residence permit.