I’ve lived in China at various times across a span of 20 years, of course my experiences overall have been very different. For example, things I loved about living in rural China in 2000, no long exist in present day. Similarly, things I enjoy in Shanghai in present day China, had yet to be invented in 2000. Overall, the experiences are very different.
If you are looking to understand whether a life in China may be for you, this article will give you some reasons why it might be a fit!
Amazing Food Discoveries
You’ve probably heard just as many people rave about food experience in China as you have heard people complain about food experiences in China. So what gives? The point is that you need to have in mind what your expectations are before you enter the restaurant (or even food stall). If you are looking for great food and service don’t go to a small hole in the wall shop in an alley. On the other hand, if you are simply looking to grab a cheap bite to eat, don’t waltz into a 5-star hotel expecting to get a great deal.
Knowing what you want is half of the battle – but once you do, China offers an amazing range of food experiences. From grilled lamb on skewers as street food to luxury dining in high-rise hotels with roof tops bars. The service at the high-end places is truly amazing and I’ve seen nothing like it in the West. Even if you are outside of Beijing or Shanghai – you can find very traditional high-end restaurants with impeccable service and amazing food. It’s all a matter of what you want. And trust me, whatever you want, China has it.
Yes, some people do things just to share it on social media. I’m not advocating this – but if you are looking to truly live wild experiences, China has that for you too. From crazy glass bridges, to replica cities – China is filled with experiences and places that will please your IG followers.
A better and more sensible argument here would be that China is filled with new experiences for most people. Whether it is your first visit to a traditional Chinese bathhouse, or KTV with strangers in the wee hours of the morning, or haggling with stall owners in an underground market. It is exciting, thrilling, and never a dull moment.
Public Transportation is Cheap
Most major cities in China have a subway system and I would dare say nearly all have a relatively advanced bus infrastructure. However, taking the bus in China is not for everyone – it can be super crowded, uncomfortable and you are not guaranteed a seat. For purposes of “transportation” in this point, I’m referring to the subway only.
In Shanghai, you can get around relatively cheap on the metro compared to most other major cities. For 4 RMB (less than 1 USD) you can get from one side of the Bund to the other. If you have to commute to work, this is a huge cost savings – spending less than $40 USD a month in commute costs is almost unheard of in major global cities.
Therefore, if you’ve got to head to work and don’t have a car, and don’t mind taking the metro China may be the place for you.
Online and Mobile Shopping
If you like to shop period – China is a great place to be. If you are lazy like me, or just like to avoid crowds generally, it is even better because you can get literally ANYTHING online. Even better the mobile app shopping scene is advanced in terms of selection, user experience and delivery. Whether you are ordering a coffee from Luckin’ Coffee (RIP Luckin’ Coffee) , or ordering something from Taobao or JD, the delivery times in China are the fastest I have ever seen. Why is that? Because China has enough people to resource and meet the demand of super-fast delivery.
I like online shopping here in Singapore too – but for sure China’s JD and Taobao delivery beats Amazon.sg any day. Sorry – just facts.
So if you like to spend your money on things you don’t need (like most of us) and are also impatient when it comes to waiting for your item to ship – China may be for you. Just don’t get carried away because unless you are staying in China for a while, you will need to sell those items before your next move.
Job Opportunities & Career Advancement
My final and perhaps the most convincing reason for most to move to China is the job opportunities. This was true 20 years ago, I’ve noticed that it was true right before COVID hit, and even in a post-COVID world, it remains to be true. If you are a skilled foreigner (being good looking doesn’t hurt) China has a job for you. What kind of job, you say?
Well…it depends. If you have a teaching certification or previous experience teaching, chances are you can easily find a job in China. If you have some international trade or marketing experience, I’m pretty sure you could find a job working business development for a Chinese firm looking to expand overseas. If you are good looking and meet the requirements for some film producer and don’t mind staring in a local film or music video – I’m sure you could find an odd job here or there. It really depends on what your skill set is AND what you are willing to do.
My background is in law – and as a foreign attorney, I found that there were plenty of job opportunities in China. Of course, some more appealing than others, but I was always able to find something. Also career advancement opportunities are much more frequent -especially if you speak Chinese. Lucky for me, I do speak Chinese and was able to use it in my line of work. If you are willing to learn – it is an investment that can pay off in career development.
If you still aren’t sure whether moving to China may be right for you, you can check out my Youtube Channel for even more content on living abroad and life as an expat.