A guide to living in China as an expat
In terms of getting around while you’re in China, especially during busy holiday periods like Chinese New Year, there are plenty of options. For long distance travel, planes and buses are a common choice, and for short distance travel, China is known for its extensive train networks - so using that your advantage is a bonus. Bikes are also a frequent choice as they’re quite easy to rent and maintain.
Remember to pack these essentials:
- Electricity adapter - China has three different types .
- Eye drops, nasal spray, moisturizer and lip balm as the air can be quite polluted.
- Bike helmet - you can rent bikes easily, but helmets are harder to find.
- Face mask - parts of China are prone to wind storms.
How do I find accommodation in China?As an expat, you may have your eyes set on the capital Beijing to find work and accommodation. As Beijing is one of the ‘big three’ for expats (the other metropolis’ including Shanghai and Guangzhou), it’s often a good place to start as there are more jobs, and more accommodation options.
If you’ve been expatriated to China on behalf of a company, as is quite common for those with the kind of skills sought by large multinational companies like manufacturing, engineering or wholesale and retail for example, it’s possible that accommodation may be provided.
How much does it cost to live in China?
While China is known for its relatively low cost of living (ranked 10th on the Global Exchange Index), it can vary from situation to situation, so it’s best to have an idea of how much on average you’ll need to spend while abroad. Here’s the Chinese Yuan compared to a few of the major currencies* when transferred overseas to get started:
- US$1000 = ￥6,610
- AU$1000= ￥4,744
- £1000 = ￥8,650
- €1000 = ￥7,558
*Prices as shown by the ofx.com Currency Converter as at 30/01/2019
How do I get a job in China as an expat?A good first step is to try and learn some of the local language, not only because it looks good on a CV, but also because it can open up job opportunities that might not be available otherwise. For English speakers however, job opportunities are more likely to be found in the big cities like Shanghai and Beijing, as many global companies have headquarters based in these cities. According to UK company Prospect , in-demand occupations for international candidates can include marketing, engineering, IT, sales, tourism and more.
Some expats also choose to spend time volunteering while abroad, which can provide the opportunity to build new skills and networks. It’s best to ensure you have enough saved to support this endeavor prior to leaving however, as volunteer positions are unpaid. Spend some time researching what causes and organisations you would be interested in contributing to and then applying to them directly, or when a desired position becomes available.
Moving abroad can be challenging, especially if you’re starting out with a new job, new location and more. But the rewards of taking the leap are known to be unbeatable. This guide is a simple overview of a few key considerations to think about before making the move, the rest is up to you!
*Please be advised that while every effort is make to keep this information up to date, OFX does not provide employment, immigration or tax advice or the like, and you should always consult an employment, immigration or tax professional about your unique circumstances.