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Shanghai, China

Moving to China

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Feb 02, 2024

Summary: Many expats and digital nomads move to China for the opportunity to experience a new culture, explore the country, and take advantage of the low cost of living. People can find a place to live in China by searching online for rental properties, using a real estate agent, or asking friends and colleagues for recommendations. The most popular cities for expats and digital nomads in China are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. These cities offer a wide range of amenities, job opportunities, and cultural attractions.

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What do I need to know before moving to China?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to China, they said:

"I have lived overseas twice, once as a kid with my parents, and, now as a middle-aged woman. I have learned that for preparing to move abroad, as with any new adventure or venture, as prepared as you might think you are, you are never fully prepared for what you will find yourself immersed in. That is part of the adventure!! BUT, as with any game, the best offense is a good defense or as good a defense as you can prepare. Here is a very short list based on my experiences and screw-ups of things that can help guide you and, perhaps, avoid some of the frustrations and pitfalls that might await you on your new life in a far away land. 1.) Network as much as possible, either by Internet or letters with those ex-pats that have already resided for a time in the area where you will be moving to. They will prove to be your most valuable source of information of do's and dont's, especially on what to bring and not bother buying and packing up to take to your new home. 2.) As with most endevors, organization and staying organzied is 75% of the game and will help keep you focused and might just save your sanity in this process of getting all ready for the move. 3.) Set your mind that this move is only temporary (even if it is for up to four years) not permanent and treat it like a big adventure, not a prison sentence. If you have the proper mindset then the transition will be that much easier to make. You just might have a wonderful surpise and find that you really love your new, temporary home and regret that you didn't move sooner!! 4.) Don't wait to the last minute to get ready for this move. As soon as you make the commitment to make the move, start making the master list of things to be done and things to be purchased for the move. (This tip should really be attached to #2) 5.) Don't take items of your present home that are of priceless value with you but do take some personal items, such as personal photos of your family and a few favorite knickknacks that you have always liked to be part of your home. 6.) When time allows in between getting ready for this great adventure, read as much as possible about the cuture and the people of the place you are moving to. By all means DON'T FORGET to log onto expatexchange.com to ask questions or ask for help in this move. It is a tremendous resource - use it! I am presently living in Tianjin, China where my husband is working on a joint venture project. We expect to be here a total of four years but, as one of the common sayings expats working all over the world learn to live by states, "stay tuned."," commented one expat who made the move to Tianjin.

"Before moving to China, expats should take the time to research the language, laws, customs, and visa requirements. They should also research the cities they might be living in, to learn about the cost of living, availability of housing, and other pertinent details. It may be beneficial to have access to or create a social or professional network prior to making the move. Additionally, expats should familiarize themselves with medical and medical insurance options, in case of any medical or health issues," remarked one expat in China.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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