What Is It Like To Be an Expat in China

by David Tompkins

Expat in China

Learn What Life is Like for Expatriates in China

It’s very different being an expat in China than in most of the countries around the world. For instance, much of the emphasis is on learning Chinese if you want to experience the best of everything that China has to offer. Chinese in general are very welcoming people who find it exciting to have foreigners around. They will love sharing everything you need to know to lead a comfortable and convenient life in China. Their warm approach makes China a country like none other, making it easier for every expat to easily settle down here.

It’s worth noticing here that the Chinese culture is completely unlike anything expats are used to in the past. While the westerners have fixed working hours, the Chinese always tend to keep working well beyond that. A lot of this has to do with a Chinese boss. For those who have a foreign boss, work hours will be just like the west. Most of the expats have their roles decided in different sectors before entering the country. Such jobs are mostly based in the cities. Expats who prefer working in more suburban or rural areas can mostly take up English teacher or NGO jobs only.

Explore China

There are about 40 major cities in China, with an average population of 2 million in each of them. Such a high population means that everything is more in the cities, the industries, cars, restaurants, places to hang out, and even the pollution level. Because of such high levels of pollution, people in these cities have to go around wearing facemasks. These masks are all not fully-functional though, and may not be as effective to filter the smallest of polluting particles floating in the air around them.

Let’s quickly overview how China is as an expat destination and what you need to know about the country before arriving there.

Best things about living in China as an expatriate:

  • Choices in food: China is a heaven for foodies. The country probably has more restaurants in a city on an average than any other country in the world. The cuisines are delectable, though they are mostly Chinese and so you may need a while to develop the taste. You may be lucky enough to find a restaurant where you get the cuisines more popular in your country, but they won’t come cheap.
  • Career: Working in China can be very rewarding for your career and of course financially as well. Most expat jobs will pay well and while you will have to work hard, you can also play hard as well.
  • Friendly locals: The Chinese are quite welcoming to expatriates. They always love to help those in need. This especially stands good for the foreigners, whom they see with admiration and would do anything to become friends with them. Even if you are around some Chinese people who don’t know English, they will try to help you out even if they have to seek assistance from their bilingual friends.
  • Cost of living: If you don’t seek an uber-exclusive place to stay, don’t crave foreign cuisines, and don’t take cabs all the time, you will find China to have a low cost of living.
  • The Culture: There are so many interesting sites to see in China – from the Great Wall to the Forbidden City. Make sure you travel throughout China to see as much of this great country as possible.
  • Busy streets in the evening: People in various countries may tend to stay indoors during parties. That is just not how the Chinese do it. They prefer to come out on streets for everything, whether it’s eating out, partying, or hanging out with friends and family. As you would expect, China is quite crowded and this can be a bit disconcerting at first, but you will get used to it.

China for Expats

Not-so-great things about China for expats:

  • Climate: One drawback of living in China is the climate which may not suit everyone. The country only experiences winter and summer with winter temperatures dropping to as low as 6ºC. However, there is no snowfall during the colder months in the north of the country. Summers are usually accompanied by rain and thunderstorms and can be quite hot. As an expat, you may find it very difficult to adjust to the strange climatic conditions of this nation.
  • Social gaps: Chinese people work hard to earn their living. Some earn more because of their more critical role, while others continue to earn less. This difference in wages has led to the development of a culture where the rich don’t talk to the poor much, don’t share meals with them, and mostly prefer to live with people who have the same social or economic status.
  • Language Barrier: If you are not used to Mandarin, you will have a tough time learning the new language and communicating with local folks. Learning Mandarin is not very easy, and you may even have to hire a Chinese interpreter for official or business meetings at times.
  • Pollution: Pollution is another cause of concern for China at present. Several steps have already been taken by the Chinese government to curb pollution levels. However, the situation is still beyond their reach and may take a while to stabilize.

Before going to China, you must make sure that all your papers are ready beforehand. That saves you the trouble of not getting them on time once you enter the country. That also saves you from any uncertainty related to the job, or to your visa, which could otherwise even lead to deportation.

Health Insurance is Important for Expats in China

You should also opt for an international health insurance plan before you book your flight to China because private healthcare services can be very expensive here. Expat Financial offers the Cigna Global Health Options plan that is ideally suited to expatriates in China. It can cover most expatriates in China subject to medical underwriting.

Healthcare in China

Besides that, you can stay assured to get the best experience of your life while staying in China.

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