Home comforts make all the difference for expats

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 October, 2011, 12:00am


It's a long way from Sydney to Beijing, and we're not just talking flying time. When you're an expat posted far away from home, the living environment matters. It's exciting to immerse yourself in your adopted home's culture and lifestyle, but a few familiarities are also nice.

This means having a home that's as comfortable as you're used to, but it's the extras that make the transition easier. Like having a trusted 'someone' on hand who can help with language translations, or directions around your new city. Or not having to find your own support services, or manage your own cleaning and maintenance issues - because someone else takes care of that for you.

It's the reason why serviced apartments make an ideal living arrangement for newly-arrived foreigners, and why so many of them stay there through choice.

For Australian Michael Sams, Beijing in 2007 was his first overseas posting. He liked the thought of a serviced apartment that would require no upkeep, and allow peace of mind as he travelled extensively around China.

He settled on Beijing Kerry Centre at the heart of Beijing's diplomatic, commercial and financial centre. Location was key. Keen to avoid the traffic, he liked being able to walk to his office without leaving the building. Beijing Kerry Centre incorporates grade-A serviced apartments, 5-star hotel, office towers, health club and shopping mall, all integrated with China World Trade Centre - so it ticked all the boxes.

Sams' three-bedroom apartment 'feels like home'. It has a spacious lounge and dining area, a fully equipped kitchen, and plenty of room for space to store golf clubs and suitcases.

Part of his rental deal was a gym membership, which Sams and his wife, when in town from Australia, use regularly. 'It has everything you can think of: pool, yoga room, spa and sauna,' he says. Another inclusion - daily breakfast in the hotel restaurant - is a bonus when he's on his own. 'If I'm in town, I can duck in for a quick breakfast, and soon be on my way,' he says.

Downstairs are everything the mining machinery executive needs: shops, international banks, supermarket; and even a medical clinic with English-speaking doctors.

Kerry's professionally-trained customer service staff are on hand at all times to ensure his life runs smoothly: to receive laundry, order newspapers, order a taxi, or make a restaurant booking.

Like all residents of Beijing Kerry Centre serviced apartments, Sams and his family can avail themselves of interesting classes, such as paper cutting and dough modelling, and meet other residents at the organised wine tastings, dumpling making, or cake and biscuit baking events. They can join seasonal outings such as day tours and year-end dinners, and weekly Sunday shopping trips to local shopping malls and supermarkets.

Sams admits he expected some adjustment after coming from a house in Australia, but is pleased with his choice. He says: 'I looked around a fair bit and picked a Beijing Kerry Centre apartment because of the location, services and great design. This turned out to be a great decision for me.'