Living the high-life in Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP)

Living the High-life in SIP

by Bonny Buckley

Nearly five years ago, my husband and I moved to SIP from Böblingen, Germany, when he accepted a new position to work in Changshu, a suburb of Suzhou. Once we arrived, we quickly found a bright apartment on a high floor in the compound Linglongwan Huayuan to the north of Jinji Lake. Star Regal Property Management, which is also located in SIP and has plenty of experience helping foreign clients to find suitable accommodations, helped us to find our place. We love Bayside Garden for its location and its many conveniences, like having a supermarket with international groceries, restaurants and a European style bakery in easy walking distance inside the neighborhood.

Although both of us work outside of SIP, we deliberately choose to live here because of the fine quality of life, and we enjoy many of our favorite activities right here in SIP, such as sailing, playing chamber music with international friends, and attending cultural events when we have free time. We decided early on that it would be best to live where we can also relax and have everything we need close by. Suzhou Insdustrial Park fit our needs and desires very well.

Since one of the things we value most in life is developing international relationships, speaking foreign languages, or using Chinese or English as a second language to discuss and solve problems, and exchanging cultures and ideas with people around the world, we have found that the population of SIP suits us. It is very international here. In the building where we live, there are several different nationalities and the neighbors are very friendly.

One of the businesses we adore in the park is Shen Musical Instruments in the Pilot Free Trade Area. Sam Shen sends his finely crafted instruments overseas primarily to the USA, where thousands of schools get to enjoy the benefit of his craft. Mr. Shen told me he has sent over 40,000 double-basses to orchestras there over the years! We love his instruments so much that we have purchased two double-basses, a viola and a world-class violin bow from him. Mr. Shen’s work is known overseas as very high quality, with totally reliable workmanship which has a reputation so high that he does not need to do any special marketing to have a very profitable business selling his instruments there.

We have become well acquainted with Suyihui Art Gallery, enjoying its exhibits and performances, and have also been able to share our love of music through several concert events in their space. The owners have worked hard to learn Chinese and integrate into the local community, bringing art and music to life to residents, young and old alike.


Through the Album of Suzhou, we got to know the lovely Zhang Youjie, a great translator, artist and cultural liaison who also lives in SIP. We have cooperated with her on several projects to bring the music of China and Europe together, with her talent in speaking and playing the qin. Also through Zhang Youjie, we got to know Cao Xiaojiao, Founder of the SuZhou LeQinShu Traditional Culture Studio, where we sometimes meet to prepare performances and collaborate.

张有杰Yang Youjie, (Sophia)

East-west collaboration at Suyihui Art Gallery

A few years ago we got interested in Toastmasters, so we decided to join the C_Life E+1 speaking club. We enjoyed many great meetings, cultural sharing events and special times together with so many friends while improving our speaking and leadership skills. We definitely recommend joining Toastmasters in SIP if someone wants to improve their confidence and get more experience in speaking and leading.

We find that it is wonderful to be able to walk to many glamourous, high-tech spaces from home, such as over the Rainbow Bridge on the way to Suzhou Center Mall, or to Suzhou Culture and Arts Center, and Times Square with its world-record overhead digital screen. We especially love to check the wind on Jinjihu from our apartment’s sweeping view, and if the wind looks promising, jump on our bikes and within a few minutes be at Baqi Sailing Club. What a fantastic life, that we can get out on a boat to enjoy nature through the power of wind and water within a few meters of home.

Safety is something we all need in our lives, to be at ease when we are out and about, and we definitely feel very safe in SIP. We are able to access high quality health and dental care when we need it and know that here we have friendly police looking out for people. One time, when my chain came off my bike and I didn’t have any tools with me (nor gloves), an officer stopped by and put it back on for me. I was really grateful and relieved to have his assistance! I love having the Traditional Chinese Medicine clinic as well as an international clinic within a few kilometers. The doctors in both places are very kind and professional.

Although we live in the middle of a high-tech, ultra-modern and efficient city, I appreciate being able to enjoy a lot of nature right here in SIP. When I go out for a walk, I love it that I see the four seasons through the lens of nature, with flowers, birds, water and a huge range of green plants and trees.

Another lovely destination we enjoy from time to time is Baitang Arboretum, with its wide variety of trees, plants, flowers and wild birds which inhabit it. When we want a quiet stroll away from the road, we love to roam around inside Baitang.

Xietang Ancient Town is also a place we discovered in SIP while on a long walk—we suddenly happened to come across it on a lonely day when we were really tired after strolling for about five miles. There we found a quaint and relaxing teahouse where the inside was set up with an outdoor area where you can relax and chat, have snacks and while away the time with refreshing, delicious tea.

Also, I feel impressed by the attitude of the SIP government, that local officials are making an effort to learn to speak better English with foreign residents in order to create a welcoming environment. Even volunteers during the pandemic seemed patient and willing to help us when we did not understand something, or the rules and regulations changed. We always felt that the volunteers doing the virus throat swab testing here were very patient and kind toward the international community around us. Although the whole world has had its ups and downs dealing with the pandemic over the past few years, in general we feel incredibly grateful for the effort of the community and government officials in SIP doing their best to help people to remain safe and as healthy as possible.

On my first trip to China in 1993, the concept of SIP had not yet emerged into reality from anyone’s imagination. Although I have lived in China for fourteen years up to now, I have spent the most recent four years in Suzhou, and no other city compares with the overall experience of life in SIP.


四年多前,我和丈夫从德国的Böblingen搬到了苏州工业园区(SIP),当时他接受了在常熟工作的新职位。一到达,我们很快在凌珑湾花园小区找到了一套明亮的高层公寓。位于SIPStar Regal物业管理公司帮助我们找到了这个地方,他们在帮助外国客户找到合适住所方面拥有丰富的经验。我们喜欢湾景花园的地理位置和便利设施,比如附近有一家提供国际食品的超市、餐厅和一家欧式面包店,步行即可到达。 






几年前,我们对Toastmasters产生了兴趣,所以我们决定加入C_Life E+1演讲俱乐部。我们参加了许多精彩的会议、文化分享活动和一起度过的特殊时刻,不仅提升了我们的演讲和领导能力,而且结交了很多朋友。我们强烈推荐在SIP加入Toastmasters,如果有人想提高自信并获得更多演讲和领导经验。 









2 Replies to “Living the high-life in Suzhou Industrial Park (SIP)”

  1. Your essay makes the reader want to visit such a lovely and interesting place. I especially enjoyed this line. “What a fantastic life, that we can get out on a boat to enjoy nature through the power of wind and water within a few meters of home.” I know you make beautiful music. I’m so happy that your life still includes that pleasure, not only for you but for your listeners.

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