Ningbo – Cale
I like to describe Ningbo as a goldilocks city. Not too big, not too small. Not too rural, not too urban. Not too traditional, not too modern. Not too Chinese, not too cosmopolitan. You can get the authentic Chinese experience in Ningbo without a massive culture shock or significant sacrifices to your comfort. They city is just right.
There are lots of diverse experiences you can have in Ningbo. For the historically minded it is an ancient city with lots of interesting attractions, the old city wall still stands in the city center. If you enjoy the outdoors, Ningbo has beautiful mountains to hike, hot springs and the famous Dongqian Lake. If you want something modern, they have an active nightlife area at Laowaitan and cultural opportunities like the Opera House theater. But with a city population 9 million people, you can imagine this only scratches the surface.
Transportation in Ningbo is cheap, so do not be afraid of getting an apartment you like even if it is not right next to a subway stop. Cost of living in Ningbo is significantly lower than nearby cities like Hangzhou & Shanghai and both of those cities are only 1 hour & 2 hours away by high speed train, respectively. Though English is not as ubiquitous as it is in Shanghai it is not difficult to get around and live your life without speaking Chinese.
Ningbo has a very comfortable pace. It is not as hectic as other cities in China but there are still plenty of places to go, things to see and do. People are very laidback here, very tolerant of foreigners and always happy to offer help.
There is always something new to discover in Ningbo; from contemporary malls to state-of-the-art heritage buildings, pristine ancestral temples, and scenic nature. These are all easily accessible via subway, bus or taxi so there is no excuse for not getting around and making the most of Ningbo.
The weather in Ningbo can be colder than you would expect; the city has monsoons in the summer and we have a very harsh winter. Make sure to pack warm clothes for the winter including a heavy coat and always carry and umbrella around with you in the summer.