Why are Tier-2 cities Better Than Tier-1 cities in China?

Why are tier 2 cities better than tier 1 cities in China?

As you all know, Qingdao is a tier two city. And I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!  

Wonder why? Keep reading

Cities of China are generally ranked in 5 tiers. First and second tier cities are the most developed and tend to attract more investments, and to be the center of main economic activities within China. And the 3rd, 4th, 5th tier cities follow behind. First and second tier cities both have their pros and cons.
Even though you may think first tier cities are bigger and more fun, they can be a little overwhelming. If you’re one of those people who like to have more personal space and not be constantly moving around in crowds, cramped subways or buses it may be worth looking at other options besides tier one cities.

Here are some brief introductions to the 5 tiers mentioned above:

Tier 1 Cities

Tier-1 cities are the most developed areas of the country. Imagine shiny buildings, international markets, touristic areas, flashy streets, lot of people, traffic jams and large ports or factories. These cities are the center of China’s booming economic activity and tend to attract foreign and domestic investments more than the rest of the cities within China.
Tier-1 cities include: Beijing – The Capital Of China; Shanghai – One of the most developed, international cities of China, followed by Guangzhou and Shenzhen.

Tier 2 Cities

Tier-2 city growth is fast enough to attract a lot of investments and tourists. They also tend to have touristic areas, well developed city structures, big business markets but less population and pollution compared to 1st tier cites like Beijing or Guangzhou. Consumer behavior is evolving very fast in 2nd tier cities. Opportunities are more open in these cities, and are easier to live in compared to the 1st tier cities. 2nd tier cities are considered as the most attractive locations to live in and/or starting business due to it’s balance of the modern international touch of 1st tier cities but less expensive whilst having the more convenient side of 3rd tier cities.
Tier-2 cities include: Qingdao – Touristic, unique, beautiful seaside city; Tianjin – Lies next to Beijing, one of the biggest ports in China; Dalian – Another beautiful seaside city; Xi an – Historical touristic city etc.,

Tier 3 Cities

Tier-3 cities follow 1st and 2nd tier cities in terms of economic growth and development. They are still considered to be very powerful economically and historically. Many tier cities are considered to be convenient and relatively cheaper locations for large factories and big industries.
3rd tier cities include: Guilin – One of the most popular touristic cities in China, Huhhot – Capital city of Inner Mongolia, Chengdu, Jinan – Capital of Shandong province etc.,

4th and 5th Tier Cities

These cities are basically the small cities that represent China’s urban population. 255 million households live in those cities with the estimated income of $7 trillion.

Tier 2 cities

Source: http://chinamarketingtips.com/chinas-city-tier-system/

 Back to the Question: Why are Tier 2 cities better than Tier 1 cities?


  • Less pollution, less traffic jam, less people!
    Shanghai for example is the most populated city in China, followed by Beijing and Guangzhou. Don’t even mention the traffic jam due to their population. And the pollution due to their millions of cars and enormous factories! Tier two seaside cities like Qingdao, Xiamen or Dalian are much better in that sense. Free breezes coming from the beaches protect the cities from terrible air pollution. Roads are usually pretty loose and people are less stressed.
  • More opportunities!
    Tier two cities are still big. Very big actually. Meaning there are plenty of job or business opportunities but less competition compared to tier 1 cities.
  • Cheaper
    Accommodation, food, entertainment, basically everything is a lot cheaper here.
  • Safe to live
    Shenzhen, Beijing and Guangzhou are one of the 10 most dangerous cities in China. Most tier 2 cities have pretty low rate of crime.
  • People are nice
    People from big cities are considered to be more arrogant and cold according to Chinese people from non 1st tier cities. (No offense). From my experience, almost everyone I met in Qingdao (A tier 2 city) has been extremely friendly and warm hearted (热情). It is very easy to make friends here, including both foreigners and the locals. Everyone’s willing to share their story and experience with you. I have built a family here in Qingdao in only a little more than 3 years. And the idea of leaving them scares me.
  • Experience real China
    1st tier cities are filled with foreigners, even the locals are much more westernized. Making it harder to immerse in to the Chinese culture and see the real China – you might end up in your bubble filled with the foreign community. That’s okay if that’s what you’re looking for. But if you’re willing to do the opposite, tier 2 cities are for you! These cities are very balanced as I mentioned before. They are very modern but still haven’t lost the traditional touch. Tier 2 cities are the perfect places to discover new things and explore the unique culture!




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