UK expat relishes life in Changsha

Updated: 2017-10-26

Briton Damion Braithwaite has made a name for himself within Changsha's large expat community, after establishing a website and official WeChat account telling local foreigners everything they need to know about the city.

Arriving in Changsha almost a decade ago, Damian started out as a teacher in the international department of Yali High School.

It is safe to say the young Brit has fallen in love with the city and built a new life here, finding love, getting married, and he even has a young daughter.

The number of expat workers who come to Changsha has risen dramatically in recent years, and those that stay for ever longer periods of time or even settle are increasing too.

Perhaps people are attracted to Changsha because of its laid-back lifestyle and friendly citizens? The city boasts titles such as "China's Top 10 Happiest City" and "Most Livable City" as well as the "Chinese City with the Greatest Soft Power".

UK expat relishes life in Changsha
Damion Braithwaite, an English expat in Changsha, takes a selfie with his daughter. [Photo/]

Damion, known as Daming to his friends, agrees, saying that Changsha is one of the happiest places he has ever lived.

"I'm British and my wife is a Shaanxi local. We've travelled a lot places in China but we decided to settle down in Changsha because we both love the city so much," Damion says.

Famous for its delicious Hunan cuisine and beautiful fireworks, Changsha is also known for its free public parks and friendly locals.

The food in particular is a favorite of Damion's, especially sautéed pork with pepper, his favorite dish, he says.

"Changsha is a city full of vigor, with increasing openness and inclusiveness," Damion says. "The people are very happy which in turn makes me very happy!"

Through his work as a teacher, Damion has helped thousands of students take their first steps in the English language. On top of this, he has set up a website ( and WeChat account (WhatsNewInChangsha) dedicated to helping new expats to the city, offering them helpful tips and suggestions as well as information about scenic spots and job opportunities.

"Our WeChat account has 12,000 followers," says Damion. "And through it I expect more expats to fall in love with the city."

Damion and his young daughter also give back to the city that they love by taking part in charity work at a care center for children where his wife, Fu Xiaoli works.

At Christmas, Damion has started organizing a bazaar where people of all nationalities are encouraged to visit Changsha's Orang Isle to celebrate the western festival with as much fervor as locals celebrate the Spring Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Reflecting on the time he has spent in Changsha, Damian says he has no regrets, enjoying every moment. "These years I've spent in Changsha have been the happiest time," Damion says. "In future I hope I can inspire more students, make more friends and get more people to love the city!"