I need some information regarding Hangzhou, Zhejiang providence as the two offers I'm seriously looking at accepting are both in this area. Both offers seem great : ) but now I have to try to make a decision between the two. The weather is my type of weather and it seems to have some good touristy type stuff to do : ))
The first offer will mean I'm living around 1 hour away from where I will teach - Xiasha >> Xicheng - can anyone tell me is it realistic to commute that distance in that time? I know my western time is often different to South Asia time and I can't imagine it's any different in China. Also what is there in the area for reach of these? What can I expect in terms of shops / gyms / amenities / people etc. Also they have offered me a subsidy if I should want it 2500 RMB - what can you buy with this sort of money in this area?
Xiasha sucks. It's a far-flung area where they moved a bunch of Hangzhou universities from scratch on land that was vacant (xiasha=under the sand) so they could sell the in-town universities' land to developers. This new "university town" has 8 or 9 school campuses with shared dorms, i.e. the schools are separate but student dorm complexes are shared amongst the schools. The new Hangzhou Metro Line 1, I think, now connects this area to the downtown, but when I last lived in Hangzhou 4 years ago, It was a pain-in-the-ass to get back and forth from the place. Expensive taxi rides out and back, and the limited bus service was always jammed with students trying to escape Xiasha for a day in town, or rushing to make it back before dorm-lockdown. The subway may have made that easier, but Xiasha is definitely not a residential-friendly area, like much of the rest of Hangzhou where if you're bored you can just walk the streets and find things of interest.
2500 can probably get you a decent place in Xiasha, but not much in downtown Hangzhou.
The second offer is also in the same area, in the Wanxiang Polytechnic area - the distance from the living quarters is much shorter but I would like more information regarding the area - is there much going on in this city, particularly for expats?
I had to look on Apple Maps for this school, and found one reference to it on Xixi West Road. I vaguely remember hearing about this place and that's rough;y where I remember it being. It's not all in the "same area" as you stated, unless you mean "area" to mean "Greater Hangzhou" which is an area larger than many places back home. Whatever-looking at the map, and if Wanxiang Polyptech is indeed where my map shows it-it's a FAR better location to be stuck in in Hangzhou. No long commutes to school, a lot easier to get into the core city centre. One school in the area rather than deaing with 8 or 9 schools' students' competing for bus seats on the Last Bus to Xiasha every morning/night.
Is there a forum specifically for this city of China?
There is indeed: http://www.hangzhouexpat.com
Ask your questions there. You'll probably get more recent advice.
Thanks for any information!