Live and work in China

I spent years of working and living in China. China may not seem the first choice for expats, however there are plenty opportunities and pros when it comes to living and working in China.

It is not for everybody and people with low tolerance level will not last long. Here are some takeaways from my experiences.

PROS
Plenty of jobs
Jobs are everywhere, especially if you are native English speaker you can get teaching jobs within days. Of course there are plenty of other jobs as well, from professional high skilled labor to well, teaching jobs.

It is (still) cheap
Chinese economy grew up a lot in recent years, however prices stayed more or less the same. You can live “high quality (quote marks because of pollution)” with your income. Teachers get paid approximately 9-15k RMB (around 1500$) in first tier cities, which gives them decent apartment in downtown and they can basically eat out every die and not break the wallet.

People are friendly
Although not everybody have the same experience, I found Chinese to be friendly to foreigners. For example, I got lost once and ask somebody for direction and he walked with me almost one mile to show me where to go. They will treat you drinks and food too.

There is no tipping
That’s right, you pay only price on menu. If you leave tip, expect waiter to run after you to give you exchange. Indeed some may be even offended if you leave tip and although in some places things are changing, leaving a tip is still a no go.

Traveling
From historical Beijing to commercial Shanghai, from historical sights to modern skyscrapers, you will find it impossible task to see it all. China has a lot to offer when it comes to sights. Climb the Great Wall, cruise the Yangtze River, or visit Forbidden Palace and many many other natural and man made places.

Cruising on Yangtze river (photo by Max)

Transportation between cities
China is developing very fast, with new train tracks being deployed every day. Now you can get from Beijing to Shanghai in 5.30h with bullet train. Taxis are every where and cheap, as well as highly developed metro system (downside is it is crowded).

Food
If you like Asian food, you will find Chinese food delicious, which differs from province to province.

Taobao
Taobao shop has it all. You can buy food online and just about everything from electronics, food, small things to the airplane. There are million products on taobao and you won’t think of something you can’t buy there. Just be careful, there are many fake products too.

CONS
Pollution
This is number one and biggest reason why I decided to not longer work in China. Pollution after years affects your health and China is still very polluted. You will find people wear face masks everywhere (for a good reason). If pollution is the reason you wouldn’t be able to live and work in China, consider Switzerland or Singapore instead.

It is crowded
Especially in the rush hour, you will feel like an ant. There are people everywhere.

Traffic is dangerous
You have to be careful on the streets, since many people drive like maniacs. Don’t expect that traffic lights mean you are safe. Sometimes green is not green and red is not red.

If you decide that China might be a good place for you to live and work, please check this article about Chinese business etiquette and Chinese work culture.

There you have it. China is certainly not for everyone, but if you can overlook Cons, you can have a blast of your life.

2 Comments on "Live and work in China"

  1. I think I would probably stay away from China until they get pollution under control. I don’t want to risk my health and there are a ton of other options at this point that I think could be as interesting and more healthy 🙂

  2. Yes, pollution is the biggest problem, especially in Beijing.

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