Most of us daydream of it, you know getting up from our desk and quitting our day jobs, hopping on a flight and going somewhere different? And then there are the small group of people that actually do it! We have all seen the pictures on Instagram, heard the stories of a friend of a friend who now travels the world, people who left it all and are now half way around the world. Well, I am here to tell you that you sir/madam can also do it! Yes, Do it!
As I was finishing my last semester in my master’s program, I looked at my work offers and they were few and disappointing. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to sit at a desk doing meaningless work or be outside doing field work for little to no money. So I decided to take a leap of faith (more like a jump into the abyss of faith) and looked for jobs in China. That’s right China, that massive piece of land that gave us Kung Fu and sweet and sour chicken. So far it has been 6 months and I absolutely love it, moving to China has been a great decision. But enough about me, let’s talk about WHY you should move to China and HOW you can make that happen.
Why you should move to China
There are more jobs
Even though China is a big player in the economic expanse of the world, it is still considered a developing nation. This means that as a growing nation, there are more job opportunities for both the locals and foreigners that would like to take up residence here. There are jobs in all different type of industries from marketing to cooking, management to teaching. All you have to do is look for the opportunity. And who knows, your current company might even have a base in China and you could just ask for a transfer.
You can travel Asia
China is massive, and allows for many travel possibilities if that is what you are looking for! Just within China, there are a great number of National Parks, monuments, museums, and sightseeing opportunities. Living in China also makes it convenient to travel to other neighboring countries such as Japan, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Russia, Burma (Myanmar), Malasia, and more.
The food is amazing
The food is delicious and the Chinese people take pride in what they cook. Meals are important to them and they strive to make healthy meals that will feed your body and soul. Now, if Chinese food is not your cup of tea, there are now more and more western options. Because more foreigners are moving to China every year, there is an increase in the number of western style restaurants, fast food chains, and supermarkets. With this being said, you will have a plethora of options to choose from when it comes to eating.
A different culture
As mentioned a little before, Chinese culture is completely different from what you might be used to. And no, it’s nothing like getting take out at your local Chinese restaurant. The Chinese care deeply about their past and their ancestors, they believe in the importance of a good name, they follow their own superstition, have their own holidays, and believe that family and honor should be held above all else. Getting to know Chinese people and their customs is amazing and it really opens your eyes to how similar we can be while still being uniquely different. One of my favorite things about China is the love for KTV or you may know it as “Karaoke”. They love to get together either after work or for a drink and belch out some of their favorite songs, both in English and Chinese. I found this to be an amazing way to connect with people (yes, by making a complete fool of yourself).
You can find love
While this might not be everyone’s top reason to travel half way across the world, the Chinese market for this is wide and varied. You may just find yourself in a relationship with a Chinese individual and it might be the best thing to happen to you. Or you may not. You may find a partner that is also a westerner. My point is more along the lines of you can meet people here that perhaps share your love for travel and learning about other cultures. So why not give it a try?
How to Move to China
How you can find jobs
My suggestion is to find a job before your arrive. This can give you the opportunity to negotiate visa requirements, compensation, expectations, and such. I am personally working as an English teacher and I came here through a company that arranged all of the particulars for me. There are online platforms that allow you to look for jobs such as Craigslist. If you already have a specific city in mind, like let’s say Shanghai, there are sites such as SmartShanghai that have a whole section on job postings. Another way to go about it is to come with a tourist visa to look for a job. My only recommendation with this approach would be to make sure your job offers to switch you to an appropriate work visa.
How you can get around
Getting to China you will need the appropriate work visa. To buy your ticket there you can use any type of site, but I suggest a wide search with Google Flights first. If you are a student or recent grad, try using StudentUniverse, as they offer discounts for students not available otherwise. Make sure to get all of your affairs in order and to purchase a VPN (virtual private network) if you want to stay connected to friends and family through social media.
Once you are all moved in and settled I would work with your company to open yourself a bank account. There are many options to choose from. With my company we use China Construction Bank, however, there is also a Citi bank which might be more westerner friendly. In addition, get a Chinese SIM there are many options to choose from and you will need it to get your bank account and basically for anything else you may need to do in China. You can use your bank details and your phone to connect to apps such as Alipay and WeChat pay (like PayPal) which make it easier to get around the country and make purchases pretty much anywhere in mainland China. For traveling around China look for trains which are often cheaper than flights using the app Ctrip. You can also book hotels and flights with this app.
What the food is like
If you have particular food allergies or you eat vegan/vegetarian, I would create a list of things you cannot eat and carry it with you (make sure it is in Chinese, check with a friend). If there is something you can absolutely not live without (my British friends often say marmite) then bring some with you. These particular items might be hard to find in China or could be quite expensive. Delivery is big here in China, so WeChat apps such as Sherpas can often make it easy to order everything from bagels to pizza and even some famous fast-food places like McDonald’s.
The way of living
Chinese culture is definitely something else. For foreigners that have never visited and know nothing about it, it might even be a bit scary at first. However, in the blink of an eye, you look back and you realize that you are used to seeing and doing a lot of the things you thought were bizarre at first.
Just like in western cultures, the Chinese have developed a way of finding a soulmate that does not involve face to face meet ups. The Chinese version of Tinder is called TanTan and it is very user-friendly. Another way to meet people is to go to different events through the city. Who know you might bump into your soulmate walking around at JZ festival.