Air pollution has long been an issue in Beijing. However, January was China’s worst month for pollution since 1954. The World Health Organization stated that the air in the city had levels of toxic smog that were nearly 40 times higher they consider healthy.
There also seems to be little hope for this issue to be eradicated in the near future. The smog has proved the final straw for many expats.
One expat explained, “Whenever any of my friends or family in the US asks me about Beijing or living in China, I say I love everything except the pollution. It’s the only thing that makes me hesitate about what I’m going to do long term.”
“We’re anticipating this summer will be a very big season [of relocations out of Beijing]for us,” explained Chad Forrest, general manager for Santa Fe Relocations, a moving company. “It seems a lot of people, particularly families with small children who have been here a few years, are reconsidering the cost-benefit equation and deciding to leave for health reasons.”
Although the pollution has slightly eased since January (dubbed “airpocalypse” by locals), readings continue to hit levels considered dangerous and residents have been advised to stay inside when possible.
There is currently 600,000 registered foreign residents China, with about 200,000 of them living in Beijing.
The pollution is also making it difficult for China to attract the required skilled and experienced foreign workers to continue economic growth.