Relocation of an electronic engineer in Shenzhen. Is it worth it to go so far?

    After reading the article “An Electronic Engineer Moves to Shenzhen” , in which the author in paints spoke about the advantages of electronic device design in China, he also decided to uncover the keyboard. I want to talk about a unique place for Russia, where I have been engaged in freelance work in the same field for more than five years, which in some cases can make serious competition to the Celestial Empire.

    This is the city of Zelenograd

    To better understand the advantages of the city as a cloister of an electronic freelancer, you need to make a short digression

    Zelenograd is a young city whose date of birth is considered to be 1958, its uniqueness begins already with its status.
    On the one hand, it is a separate city located on the 37th kilometer of the Leningradskoye Highway, on the other hand, it is a district of the city of Moscow! At the time of Developed Socialism, he was the flagship of the electronic industry of the Soviet Union. The city included a full cycle of development and production of electronic equipment, from watches to microcomputers of the DVK type, and of course, products for the military-industrial complex and space.

    Moscow Institute of Electronic Technology trained personnel. Numerous plants and factories were engaged in the production of silicon, semiconductor crystals, the packaging of microcircuits, the production of printed circuit boards, and the assembly of finished products. Of course, all this would not have been possible without numerous development departments. In order to attract the best cadres from all over the country, the city was granted a special status - Moscow registration and Moscow supply.

    Unfortunately, most of this utopia fell apart with the collapse of the USSR, unable to withstand the competition of global markets, but part of the infrastructure, and most importantly, personnel, remained. In addition, until now, the financing of public utilities is carried out according to Moscow standards, which are many times higher than those near Moscow. Therefore, today, living in this city, it is perhaps the most convenient to engage in the development of electronics in Russia. Compared with China, there are both pros and cons. What outweighs and for whom is up to you.

    The Leningrad Railway city is divided into two parts. "New City" is a typical sleeping area and does not deserve attention, all the objects of interest to the developer are very compactly located on a small patch of "old city".

    On a small patch of several square kilometers, everything necessary for the development and production of pilot batches of electronic products has been collected.

    Within the above photo is everything that a freelancer needs to work and live. Two companies are manufacturers of boards and contract assembly, mechanical processing, companies selling electronic components, a pilot plant where you can make custom-made chips of your own design (albeit with a low degree of integration), a training center at MIET, free places for offices, branches of several banks , Palace of Culture, two stadiums. The photo was taken several years ago, so today there is still a culture park, a dining room, many cafes and a restaurant, a beach, barbecue sites, and now they are building a water park. On the right you can see the edge of the housing estate, where you can rent an apartment inexpensively by Moscow standards.

    Now about everything in more detail


    Manufacturers of printed circuit boards are represented by two firms - Resonit and Taber. Their prices are close at first glance, but the first one has more transparent pricing and complex multilayer boards will cost less. The minimum urgent order for simple two-layer boards with a mask will cost 1650 rubles for preparation + 180 rubles for each square decimeter of the board area. Production time is three days. It can be faster, but more expensive. Multilayers will cost 2800 + 410 rubles per decimeter for a production period of a week. Urgent production of boards from microwave material is possible, here the pricing is more difficult, since it is tied to the size of the workpiece. They also do it around the week.
    Board assembly can be carried out at the same companies, if necessary, purchasing components, but this usually takes a month or more, therefore it is better to purchase key components ourselves. In addition, you can use the services of the contract manufacturer “Telem”, which is able to produce a full production cycle of the product, from printed circuit boards to assembly and inspection. Unlike many others, even individual samples and small experimental batches are taken. There are also smaller offices specializing in the installation of circuit boards and especially sly customers (like me) can agree on them directly with the executors, then for cash they can really solder very complex fees for three, or even two days.

    Unfortunately, there are no radio stores in Zelenograd, however, common electronic components, all the necessary equipment for installation, installation products and cases can be bought in the pavilions of the Mitinsky radio market at quite reasonable prices. It can be reached on Pyatnitsky highway by bus in 30 minutes in the absence of traffic jams. Average journey time is 40 minutes.

    The range is not as rich as in the Chinese markets, but you can find a lot.

    Many companies involved in the sale of electronic components, such as ChipDip and Platan, deliver goods from their online stores to the Mitinsky radio market. Passive SMD components - resistors, capacitors, inductors, connectors and semiconductors of wide application can be purchased at SMP, they carry out free delivery of their goods to the point of delivery in Zelenograd a couple of times a week. If you need exotics, which are brought to Russia only to order, you can use the services of Zelenograd firm MicroEm. Most orders can be received within a month. If you are too lazy to go to Moscow in MicroEm once again, you can also order the whole assortment of components from Kompel, which has a very wide stock and receive them within a week.

    There are several offices specializing in machining next to circuit board companies. They can quickly and relatively inexpensively produce milled parts from various materials and planar parts from metal and plastic. If you need something completely exotic made of plastic, there is a company engaged in 3D printing. By the way, with small-volume machining, things in China are, perhaps, even worse than ours.

    However, a person is alive not only with work, sometimes it is necessary to break away from the computer and put the soldering iron aside.


    Ecology is today a very important component of the quality of life, so I spent a lot of time in this post. Those who are going to repeat my feat and engage in contract development in Zelenograd, I advise you to settle in the old city. Firstly, everything you need will be literally at hand, and secondly, according to legend, it was designed by American architects according to the patterns of their university cities. The city is divided into microdistricts that are shared by numerous forest parks. One of the largest and most comfortable is located in the very center of the city, it is very pleasant to go jogging at any time of the year, since asphalt roads are lit and regularly cleaned from snow in winter. There are a lot of different forest birds, squirrels and hedgehogs are found.

    At your service in the old town are three stadiums, tennis courts, a skate park, playgrounds in courtyards and forest parks, mini-football grounds with special coating, fitness centers, swimming pools, an ice palace, dog walking grounds, a swimming pool, specially equipped playgrounds kebabs. On wide sidewalks it is very convenient to ride a bicycle and skateboard. In the vicinity of the city through the forest in the winter, many ski tracks are laid. Traffic jams rarely occur. There is a lake with a fountain and swans.

    Due to the fact that most of the harmful production has been stopped, the air is very clean, over the past 15 years I have been able to observe only once - in 2010, during the extreme heat. Then in Tver peatlands burned and the smoke from them reached Zelenograd, however, then all of Moscow was filled with it.

    Transport accessibility

    The city is connected with Moscow by the Leningradskoye and Pyatnitskoe shosse. Since it is considered part of Moscow, the price of numerous bus express trains is very affordable, although during peak hours you can stand in traffic for a long time. However, even at peak hours, Moscow can be reached by train in 45-55 minutes, and by express another 10 minutes faster. Soon they will launch a paid understudy of the Leningradskoye Shosse and the situation on the roads should improve significantly. Not far from the city is located Sheremetyevo Airport. Getting to him by taxi costs 600-700 rubles.


    Zelenograd has recently been very intensively built and landscaped. However, residents of Moscow were populated in the microdistricts of the new city, and new houses were built on the site of demolished five-story buildings in the old city, so there are very few commercial new buildings in the city, and the price of housing is very high and comparable to Moscow.

    On the rental market, everything is much better. The monthly cost of renting a room is from 12,000 rubles, decent odnushki from 20 thousand rubles, kopeck piece from 25 thousand rubles. Shabby property can be rented a couple of thousand cheaper. The cost of hotel rooms is from 2000 rubles per day. If necessary, you can rent an inexpensive office space and production needs. The price starts from 500 rubles / sq m per month.

    So let's try to summarize

    The main thing is everything you need at your fingertips.

    You can quickly make printed circuit boards of almost any complexity at a price twice as high as in China.

    If you avoid serious exoticism, then quickly enough you can buy electronic components. The retail price, of course, will also be higher by 50 percent, but for the development and pilot lots this does not matter much.

    A plus is also the Russian-speaking environment and native mentality. You can save a lot of money on translators and intermediaries.

    Housing is three times more expensive than the cheapest Chinese offers, but, on the other hand, if you believe a friend who has left for China, you will also have to pay an equivalent amount of 25,000 rubles for a decent apartment next to the factory and sea views. Here, for this amount, you can rent a kopeck piece within walking distance from the offices of all the companies you need and 500 meters from a large forest park.

    Most of the clients in Russia are concentrated in Moscow, and it is also close at hand. Pleases the proximity, perhaps the best airport in Russia today.

    In the bottom line, we get the following: in terms of convenience and time spent on the development and manufacture of the prototype, Zelenograd does not lose much to China if exotic components are not used. The cost of manufacturing and installing boards is one and a half to two times higher than in China, but you don’t have to spend so much effort on quality control.

    Ecology and the possibility of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the familiar climate is exactly in favor of Zelenograd, except that there are no seas and mountains nearby.
    The last thing worth adding - Zelenograd has the status of a special economic zone, therefore, if an electronics engineer thinks to open his own company, then he can count on some benefits.

    So if you are able to provide yourself with orders at the expense of Russian customers (and this is where problems are brewing today), then the development and prototype stage, in my opinion, is more pleasant to complete in Zelenograd. Mass production, of course, is more profitable in China, although here it must be considered. If you plan to produce a limited batch of products with high added value, then manufacturing in Russia may be more profitable. In China, of course, they will do it faster and cheaper, but the time and money involved in quality control, transportation and customs clearance can exceed the benefits.

    If you are aiming at international markets or large batches of devices, China will definitely win, especially since in Russia today the tendency to slide into self-isolation is progressing very quickly.

    About the search by freelancer-electronics engineer for my own experience and the trends of recent years in this area, I plan to tell in the next article.

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