Moving to China as an expat sure sounds exciting at first. You’re experiencing a new country, a whole new culture, fresh food, a unique lifestyle, new everything. But with all of that excitement, there are many things you should research and learn before diving into your international relocation. Here is everything you need to know about relocating to the great country of China.
What Do I Need to Know About Moving To China
It would be best if you remember that you’re moving across the world. China is a vast country with many different regions, cities, towns, and villages, all with different customs and traditions. It’s very diverse, but the people living there all follow a similar mindset and lifestyle rooted in various factors such as their faith and belief systems, their values, and their history. At the very least, you should get to know these customs and traditions to live a decent life there and make a good impression as well. The more you know about what Chinese life is like, the less moving stress you’ll have, and you’ll adjust much faster.
Chinese Life for Expats
How Much Does it Cost To Move to China
One of the most important factors when it comes to moving to China should be how much it will cost to get there. You’ll have many different costs and fees just to be able to travel, let alone sustaining a decent life. Before you start making plans for traveling, get to know all the costs associated with transportation and what fees you’ll need to cover to be able to rent, and in some cities, you’ll need to pay a fee to be able to enter.
The Expenses Associated With Relocating to China
In terms of the overall cost of relocating, you should consider several different factors. These factors include travel costs, housing, rent, utilities, transportation, food, etc. In total, U.S. expats should expect to pay between $700 – $1,000 per month to live comfortably. This is where having a relocation budget comes in handy, so you can figure out how to cover your expenses, and it’s a general rule of thumb when wanting to know how to live in another country. As far as international relocation costs are concerned, we suggest requesting free quotes from several companies, so you get a general idea of how much you should set aside.
Chinese Currency and Exchange Rate
To be able to come up with a sufficient budget, you should know what the exchange rate is between China and the US. The official name for the currency is called “renminbi” (abbreviated as CNY) and has a few breakdowns. “Yuan” is a common name that most people hear, “jiao,” which is a tenth of a yuan, and “fen” is a tenth of jiao. Though there are different names for each breakdown, it’s all considered renminbi. For the exchange rate, one single US dollar equals seven yuan.
Chinese University Costs
If you’re considering attending school abroad, you’re in luck. There are several different schools that you can enroll in, but it would be wise to know the tuition fees and the application fees. The general tuition cost for attending one of the many universities can cost between $2,500 and $10,000 per academic year. This will require you to find different options to help you pay for schooling like loans, grants, and scholarships.
Chinese Immigration Rules for Expats
Another major factor in your move overseas is learning about Chinese immigration rules for US expats and the legal processes that go along with relocating to the country. Today, immigration officers aren’t too stringent when it comes to foreigners entering the country. Still, there are rules set in place for importing and exporting certain items, and money, $5000 or more, being brought in and out of the country.
Research Visa Requirements
Entry into the country is free for only Hong-Kong, Macau, and under-72-hour-stays with the appropriate documents needed to travel abroad. Any other city or area of the country requires a visa with different priced fees for different types. For example, a single entry 30-day stay visa will cost $140, along with an application process. You’ll also have to send the immigration officials your personal information and information about your stay.
US Embassy and Consulates
Whenever traveling internationally, the US Embassy and Consulates in China are an excellent link with the US. They work to help you if you have any issues regarding your stay and can even guide you to help you get adjusted. The central embassy is located in Beijing, with consulates in different cities. Before deciding which city you wish to stay in, be sure to see who is the closest available to you.
The Best Cities in China to Live in for an Expat
Getting your visa requirements in order is only part of the journey. You have to know where you’re going first, of course, so spend some time researching and getting to know different cities and areas to live. Many places offer tremendous and affordable housing with plenty of things to do and sights to see.
The Beautiful City of Shanghai
Living in Shanghai offers a lot, especially for westerners, as the culture there is entirely harmonious with the traditional eastern culture, so you can easily find someone who speaks English. This makes it a hot spot for foreigners, approximately 10 million who live and work in the city out of 24 million total, to enjoy the many unique experiences. Not only that, but the city is perfect for those looking to try different and unique kinds of food. It’s also considered to be extremely safe with excellent healthcare facilities. A most notable drawback is that the city is very crowded, and navigating your way through it can be tough. But after a while, you learn to get used to it.
The Excellent City of Beijing
Beijing is home to 22 million people. The sheer size of the city can be overwhelming, but it can still be very crowded. On the plus side, life there is relatively cheap in regards to buying groceries and other necessities. For example, grocery prices in Beijing are 54% lower than a city like New York, so if you’re spending $5 on one pound of fruit in NYC, you’ll pay less than $2 in China. It’s also a very safe city with a rapid pace if you like everything fast and convenient. Beijing has easy public transportation and plenty of rich culture and food to enjoy.
Chinese Housing and Apartments
Renting property is a bit of a challenging experience, and you have to be fast and know who to talk to to be able to find the right place. Another thing you’ll have to do is find a realtor or a friend who can speak the language to guide you when making a deal with a landlord, property owner, or manager.
Where to Find Good Housing
As we mentioned earlier, you’ll need to find help when looking for housing. You should be able to find many available properties if you contact local realtors, landlords, and property owners as most of them are multilingual and can speak some English. They are used to welcoming expats to a new home. There are five different types of rentals to choose from, all varying in cost:
- Regular apartments – a great choice if you’re living on a budget.
- High-end apartment complexes – more expensive, but worth every yuan for a high standard of living.
- Serviced apartments – perfect for those staying on business.
- Villa communities – much better for families with more substantial incomes, which are fine with being farther away from the city.
- Traditional housing – usually street level, but offers a unique experience.
Rent and Other Associated Costs
Once you’ve found a home that suits your needs best, you’ll have to go through the rental process, which can take a bit of time and reading. To rent, you have to provide valid travel documents and some minor details about your stay, the duration, and if you work in the country or not. Most rental contracts are in Chinese, so if your language skills are lacking, we suggest finding someone who can guide you. Once you’ve signed your agreement, you’ll have to provide a deposit and the first month’s rent in a typical apartment rental. Depending on the type of apartment you have, the average cost can be from 3,500 CNY to 7,000 CNY.
Tips for Life in China
Remember, when relocating to a new country, you need to understand the culture that you’re moving into. Since you’re most likely to move to a city, you should know general Chinese culture and customs, so you make an excellent first impression. Aside from that, you should keep a list of what to pack when moving abroad.
Learning the Basics: Language, Food, and Culture
Understand that China is an ancient civilization with many different religious beliefs, traditions, nuances, customs, and traditions. The Chinese language is complex, and different dialects and groups can be as diverse as Spanish and french. It would be very beneficial to you to learn some tips for learning a new language, as English is not commonly spoken there. The food is heavily tied to the region, but an overall staple of the cuisine is rice, chicken, and pork.
Find a Good International Moving Company
When relocating abroad, hiring reliable international movers is essential for getting your things moved quickly and adequately. A major potential issue is that your stuff will get lost on the way, and you’ll have to fight with customs and baggage to make sure your stuff makes it there with you. Suppose you hire a reputable international moving company for international shipping services – you’ll be able to avoid these issues and move to PRC.