Premium Housing & Chengdu’s Come Up

More than a year ago we published a post on the Chengdu government’s new development for foreigners in the south side of the city, entitled “A Home of Our Own?” The development garnered a lot of unfavorable press in the Chinese blogosphere with many netizens angry over what seemed to be preferential treatment for foreigners. One quote that summarized a lot of the sentiment was from Gen Zhai who wrote an essay on the subject:

“One look and this smacks of the old concessions during the Qing Dynasty, but there is one big difference. Back then the foreigners made us do it; this time we are doing it to ourselves.”

The bad press motivated local consultancy firm Maxxelli Real Estate to take over the PR and management for the development and I recently took a trip to Tianfu International with Maxxelli’s boss Peter Kuppens to see what is really going on there.

Chengdu premium housing

I have to admit, I was very impressed. The homes themselves are beautiful two- and three-story houses with impeccable interior design. The complex has a huge swimming pool with hot tubs and a spa center and an on-site multimedia building offers movies in 3D. A staff member was watching Avatar alone and as soon as I stepped in he jumped up and addressed me in English. He looked like a farmer in a uniform but he had obviously been rehearsing his lines for this very moment:

“Welcome to Tianfu International Community, sir. Would you like a tour of our complex?”

Although Peter was my guide for this particular trip, the man followed us around and pointed out the espresso machine (Very good coffee, sir) and urged us to go upstairs and check out the lounge area.

In a lot of the comments in the previous story, the idea of a “foreigner only” housing complex was lampooned. But most of the lampooning was done by young China vets with no intention of spending 30-40k yuan on anything, let alone for rent. The complex isn’t targeting young bums like me and my friends.

Chengdu premium housing

Wealthy white collars with corporate packages. That’s who this complex was built for and three families – two Dutch and one Belgian – have already signed on for a year. For Chengdu vets, it might seem preposterous to spend 30k on a home, no matter how beautiful the interior, how warm the pool, how 3D the theater … but I spent a year in Shanghai and it’s already been happening there.

What this really means is that Chengdu is coming up.

Finally Get that Card Game Going

Chengdu premium housingIn Shanghai I played a lot of Texas Hold-em with a lot of expats. We played 5/10 and 10/20. What this means is that the big and small blinds were at a minimum 5 and 10 yuan (Check the rules of Hold Em for details). Pots could quickly reach 2000, 5,000 and even 10,000 yuan.

Here in Chengdu most crowds play for 0.5 or 1 yuan on the blinds. Big pots might reach 100 yuan. Tiny, tiny potatoes. The major reason why is because Chengdu expats still number in the low thousands and most of us are living simple lives on simple salaries. More developed towns like Shanghai have more than enough expats who make big money to fill dozens of card games. Whenever one of them gets shut down by the police, another pops up.

What I’m getting at here is that with an increase in wealthy expats with 30k to burn on a home so wifey can maintain upper middle class status, we might finally get that card game going.


Chengdu premium housingSpeaking of wifey: in cities like Shanghai and Beijing, the foreign “Taitai” (??, wife) is a fixture of the scene. She usually gets dropped off in a fat Chrysler van, a couple kids in tow, shops till she drops and then has a baller meal at a place like Goga.

They enrich our lives. With taitais around, we can expect better restaurants (micro-brews anyone?), more young kids at the Bookworm, better international schooling, various support groups (knitting, wine tasting, cougar tutorials) to complement the snazzy “Single Malt Club” that we already have. Every international city of any standing has the socialite scene and the scandal that comes with it. We’re being gentrified and we should welcome it.

Hell, Chengdu Living might get itself a weekly post from an embedded high society columnist.

17 thoughts on “Premium Housing & Chengdu’s Come Up”

  1. This complex looks very well put together in the photo’s, though I’d love to take a closer look.

    Gentrification is indeed coming to Chengdu, but it’s still on the horse and cart. Being here myself for property development, I’m always curious to see what’s taking shape across Chengdu.

    You mention the ‘farmer’ staff member working in the complex… This is a huge issue actually, and one that will take years to address. Until there is a more dynamic and diverse educational system in place, we won’t see the level of service typically expected at a complex such as this, and that obviously begs the question of where that 30K a month is going. It’s a sector that will keep growing regardless, especially when developers are becoming keener to attach themselves to these prestigious residences. Serviced residences are a case in point, and if I could justify to myself dropping that much coin on my rent, I’d do it in a heartbeat!

    • Actually I was impressed with the “farmer staff,” he spoke pretty good English and was obviously trying to improve. He knew how to explain the 3D multimedia complex and it looked as if the other staff/security had been trained well.

      Maxxelli is managing this place now, so a lot of issues that you might normally face, especially concerning cross-cultural communication, are less problematic.

  2. So rent on these units are 30k RMB per month if I understand correctly… what are these places like? How large, what kind of amenities, etc? I would imagine that they are fantastically luxurious for that kind of money. I assume the photos here are of public facilities, pools and gyms etc?

    I have to admit, it’s a little shocking that there are even places like this in Chengdu now. Strikes me as very Shanghai or Beijing. Truly Chengdu’s luxury expat come up.

      • We’re indeed talking about modern 420 – 640 m² (3 different sizes) villas.

        Some of the facilities:
        • International Kindergarten
        • Club House with:
        – Indoor Multi-Functional Courts
        – Outdoor & Indoor Pools
        – 3D Cinema & Golf
        – Gym
        • Tennis Courts
        • Near Metro Station and Shopping
        • Spiritual Center
        … and more

        Sole Agency: Maxxelli Real Estate
        Contact us: 13730871837

        I’ve send more pictures of the actual villas to Sascha, would be great to include some.


  3. Um, I suppose location of this complex is far from the city, so what i will do (if i had 30k to pay rental every month) is, I will rent a relatively small apartment with 10k in the city center area (10k should be more than enough), and use 20k for swimming, 3D movie, spa and shit,hahahahaha

  4. I’ve seen this place with my boss and was surprised actually, large and very western.
    I still enjoy living in the city, but since this place is half the distance to Luxe Hills (and half the price!), I imagine it will fill up soon.
    Now let’s just hope the property management maintains the place better than Orchard Garden! ;(

  5. I work in this community and other things are slowly opening up. In the last couple of weeks we have had two restaurants open.

    They have a cool virtual golf course, but unfortunately they only cater for right handed golfers.

    The international kindergarten is a branch of Golden Apple and weighs in at about 85,000RMB a year.

  6. never heard of the chengdu international women’s club? trust me, the ‘taitai’ scene, as you call it, is alive and kicking in chengdu and has been for awhile. as for luxury real estate, it’s popping up everywhere. just look at the serviced apartments all of a sudden. i’m not sure if this is a good or bad thing either…certainly i can say that people in chengdu walk a lot faster, argue a lot more, and spend a lot more than they used to.


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