China’s “Luckiest” / “Happiest” City for 2014

Harbin Ice

The national paper People’s Daily and China’s central TV station recently went through a little bit of “city soul-searching”… to find out whom’s the “luckiest” or “happiest” city in China.

Surprise: There’s none of Beijing, Shanghai, or Guangzhou in the mix. Never mind there’s more international food, wifi cafés, or fellow expats in these cities, but the stress levels are increasing — in particular when it comes to whether you can afford a place to live in the city or not (especially if you’re a local).

So here’s the Top Ten list:

  1. Harbin, northeast China: China’s “ice city”, best known for the annual ice fests
  2. Nanjing, east China: Last capital of Republican China
  3. Huizhou, southeast China: Also in Guangdong but less frantic
  4. Hangzhou, east China: Nice views (West Lake) if a little touristy
  5. Qingdao, east China: “Sailboat city” with a lot of very good views by the sea
  6. Ningbo, east China: Modern ctiy, well-preserved library, pleasant views by Lake Dongqian
  7. Yantai, east China: Now with an HSR connection, right by the sea with frequent ferries to Dalian
  8. Xinyang, central China: One of China’s ancient capitals based in He’nan
  9. Chengdu, western central China: Much more well-known as the “home city of the pandas”
  10. Ji’nan, east China: Lots of springs and parks, although the built-up area is increasingly sprawling; but a nice HSR station

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