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Shanghai, China

Pros and Cons of Living in China

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Nov 27, 2021

Summary: Pros and Cons of Living in China. Expats, Retirees and Digital Nomads talk about the pros and cons of living in China

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What are the pros and cons of living in China?

Expats, digital nomads and retirees living in China responded:

"Likes - Climate is great. Busy, dynamic city. Great public transport. Food range and quality is very good. Excellent links to other cities (HSR, Airlines) Dislikes - Cost of housing, lack of services aimed at foreigners/expats, poor traffic enforcement, allowing ebikes on the footpath," added another expat in Shenzhen.

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What do expats in China appreciate most about the local culture?

"This new culture, these people are new in so many ways, yet ancient in so many others. One aspect I admire is their ability to formulate and carry out truly long term plans. In the US, national programs tend to be 4 years, based on elections. But, here, 20 or 30 YEAR PLANS are not uncommon, so they can accomplish amazing things. I appreciate the respect they show for older folks like me. Even their own people are shown a great deal more respect then is often the case in the west. I appreciate their work ethic, which is work, work & work until the job or the goal is reached. I remember one old man riding a bicycle down a crowded street in Shanghai. He had six cement blocks on a metal platform on one side of his bike and a REFRIGERATOR on the other side. He was hauling that Fridge & would probably receive $3 or $4 then or maybe $10 to $15 for this dangerous job in today's market. His family needed the money, so he took the job. And their kids, often going from school to private lessons in Math, English or KungFu & sometimes, ALL THREE on a Saturday & Sunday. The Chinese kids seem smarter because their parents PUSH them harder to study & make something of their lives. And this cultural trait has made the Chinese successful worldwide because they value education," explained one expat.

"The people are friendly, the variety of cultural experiences is widely varied. Travel is cheap and the exchange rate makes my Social Security go about 5 times farther than it would in the US. I have easy access to Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Mongolia, Nepal, and with a bit of visa effort, Tibet and Vladivostok are accessible. I'm currently in a seafood based cuisine here but I love the access to multiple dining experiences," said another person in Qingdao.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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What do expats find most challenging?

"Driving in China has been a big challenge. There are electric scooters everywhere. I mean, sometimes at a busy intersection, there are 24 cars and 300 scooters. These scooters, (if they are electric) require no driver's license. This means that the drivers have NOT been taught what is legal or safe. So, any intersection is dangerous with scooters crossing traffic lines, not obeying the lights & basically its open season. Now, add to that owning a car & modern "Big Brother" with traffic cameras everywhere. I have received so many tickets whereas in the other 30+ countries I have driven in, my record is almost perfect. Silent electric scooters, strange traffic laws, Chinese signs & those darn cameras everywhere make driving a real challenge here," explained one expat living in Beihai.

"I would have to say language is high on the list but a translating program is available for download on smart phones, tablets, and computers,.. and that can help when necessary. maintenance of visas takes some effort but as I approach the end of my current visa in September, I'm hoping the newly relaxed visa requirements between the US and China will make renewing my visa easier. I am constantly recruited to teach English but currently am not on a work visa. I am not sure if these are challenges or simply items to which I have focused too little effort," said another expat in Qingdao.

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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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