American-born Kaiser Kuo admits he has enjoyed being a slacker in Beijing. 'It's a safe harbour, where you can slack - the cost of living is low, you can be comfortable, eat out and take taxis everywhere,' said Mr Kuo, who earned a name locally by writing a column on the 'young China expatriate lifestyle' for a Beijing monthly magazine. Raised in a Chinese family in New York, the 36-year-old holder of a master's degree in East Asian studies went to China for a chance to play rock music. He has lived in China on and off since 1988 for a total of eight years, and has stayed in Beijing continuously since 1996, when he came to help run his father's agricultural equipment company and play guitar for the band Tang Dynasty. But he said that because the professional bar is lower in Beijing's limited expatriate community, the inexperienced can pursue careers that would be too competitive in other countries. Although music drives him, Mr Kuo has found no shortage of other work. He freelances for Time magazine, as well as local publications, and in 1999, helped start the city guide Web site Chinanow, which closed down last year. Last year, he also became Beijing business director for wireless services company Linktone, based in Shanghai. On weekends, Mr Kuo turns up at a nameless lakeside bar in Beijing's old courtyard neighbourhood and meets the same expatriates on 'cereal runs' at Jenny Lou's, a chain of Westernised grocery stores in expatriate districts of east Beijing. As long as foreigners do not abuse the low cost of living to become alcoholics, drug addicts or womanisers, they should never be ashamed of their Beijing lifestyle, even without a solid job or career, Mr Kuo said. Tasting 'the great other' world of China is enough reason to be there. 'A good place to spend a few years,' he said.