Beibu Gulf Square in Beihai, China
Beibu Gulf Square in Beihai, China
Beibu Gulf Square in Beihai, China

Moving to China

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Nov 27, 2021

Summary: Moving to China: Expats, retirees and digital nomads talk about everything you need to know before moving to China.

International Relocation Guide
International Relocation Guide
International Relocation Guide
International Relocation Guide

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:

"Look at many places and use a checklist to make sure that everything works BEFORE signing any lease. Landlords move slowly after they have your deposit," commented one expat who made the move to Shanghai.

"Be patient and have a lot of cash on hand! Apartments in north China require an initial payment of 3 months and 1-month deposit. That is a lot of money to spend at the beginning. Everyone should arrive in Beijing with at least a minimum of $5,000 USD for start-up costs. The best way to find an apartment is to ask a colleague which realtors they used," remarked another expat in Beijing , China.

"Find a local from Beijing to help with location. Pay attention to what comes with the property, 24 hour hot water, elevator, heat, satellite tv, internet, and the maintenance. The sizes are in square meters which isn't always accurate because they describe construction size and not the living space," said another expat in Beijing.

"Come for what I call a looky-see trip first before committing to come live in this area to make sure you can find a decent home for you and your family. Get a good relocation company to help you look and negotiate for you. Everything in china is up for negotiation! Make sure your company is allowing you enough housing money per month to get you a good place to live and make sure you detail and negotiate EVERYTHING you want the place to have BEFORE you seal the deal and move into the place. *** When your contract for the house is up for renewal that is the time the owner will make other changes you need or forgot to ask for intitally to keep you in the place for another go round," remarked another expat who made the move to Tianjin.

"Transport options, schools, your office, and law - there are legal and illegal areas for expats to live in," explained one expat living in Beijing, China.

"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."," said another expat in Tianjin.

How do I find a place to live in China?

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 8 Best Places to Live in Croatia and the Living in Mexico Guide. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quotes for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

William Russell Health InsuranceExpat Health Insurance

Get a quotes for international health insurance from our partner, William Russell.
GET A QUOTE

Living in China GuideLiving in China Guide

Expats living in China find learning Mandarin a big challenge, but most say that learning even a little is very worthwhile. They also agree that the spitting, squat toilets and Chinese culture take some getting used to.

China Forum China Forum
Meet other expats and talk about living in China.

Healthcare in ChinaHealthcare in China

Expats living in China discuss health insurance and quality of medical care in China. Tip 1: if you're going to the hospital in China (or to a doctor

Cost of Living in ChinaCost of Living in China

Expats offer insight into the cost of living in China.

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Contribute to China Network Contribute
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