Tianjin a city always changing — for the better
Working in a real estate and investment management firm, Michael Hart knows exactly where is the best place to live.
Having lived in Tianjin for more than eight years, the managing director of JLL Tianjin said he and his family increasingly enjoy the slowerpace of the ever-evolving city.
Tianjin is connected to Beijing in many ways, but it is a world apart in terms of daily interactions and experiences, the American said. There are relatively few foreigners per capita in Tianjin, and each day one has the opportunity to experience the “real” China.
It isn’t uncommon to be the only foreigner in a restaurant, in the office building, on a flight or on the subway. On the other hand, it seems any time a new “foreign” business opens, invitations are easy to get.
“I think I’ve been to almost every five-star hotel opening and those for many businesses here over the past eight years,” he said. “I remember being invited to an opening event for an annual trade fair in Tianjin and only later realized I was about 10 meters away from Kofi Annan, the former secretary-general of the United Nations.
All of the foreigners were herded together on the stage. Things are evolving and the foreign professional community is growing, but it is still an interesting time to live in this evolving city and economy.”
As one of the world’s top-five real estate consulting firms, JLL opened its Tianjin office in late 2006 and Hart moved here with his family. Having previously worked and lived in Taipei and Shanghai, he admits he found Tianjin not as convenient and diverse back then. The choices of restaurants were limited as were the cultural activities for foreigners, he said.
However, the development of the city since he arrived has greatly impressed him, especially the construction of infrastructure — several new subway lines have opened and the airport and railway station have been renovated. It is more convenient for his friends in Beijing to come to visit him in Tianjin.
“Increasingly there are weekend tourists coming from Beijing and surrounding areas, and I believe the city’s slower pace and restaurants and cultural offerings will continue to evolve and with it improve the city’s livability,” said Hart, who lives with his wife and two children.
At the same, the JLL team in Tianjin has grown from four to more than 60 people. The service they provide is similar to that in Shanghai and Beijing, including real estate management, commercial real estate leasing, retail and industrial real estate leasing and consulting, as well as a newly opened international real estate business, which assists Chinese people seeking to invest in property in Europe. Their clients are not only from Tianjin, but cities such as Shijiazhuang and Tangshan in neighboring Hebei province.
Manufacturing is still the pillar industry in Tianjin, with offices and factories of top multinationals in auto, electronic, chemical and pharmaceuticals, and aviation industries.
“I think there is still a great deal of room for Tianjin to increase its focus on tourist infrastructure and service industries,” Hart said. “Tianjin is a lovely city with an interesting mix of Chinese and European architecture and history from the past 150 years that is different from anywhere else in China.”
He added: “As long as the economy continues to be strong I look forward to staying in Tianjin. My family enjoys the city and JLL has a great team and company culture. I think we have a long bright future ahead of us here.” Contact the writers through firstname.lastname@example.org