I decided to create a page about tipps on traveling in and around China as well as working or simply living there. A lot of people ask me how I did it and they find it rather hard to find information about going to China.
Even though packing your bags and going to live in China mind seem kind of crazy and impossible in the beginning, nobody needs to be scared because it is possible and you can actually make your dream come true!
In the following I am going to answer a couple of questions readers or friends asked me about going to China. If you have any questions not listed below, please leave a comment and I will be happy to help you!
What majors/careers are good for eventually working and living in China?
I think there is no specific career that is best to make it in China. You can find companies of all kinds in China so don’t try to find a job or do something you don’t like just because you want to live in China. The most common way to find your way to China is teaching languages. Especiall English teaching position can be found anywhere and they are very well paid! You can make between 8,000 and 12,000 RMB just for teaching a couple of hours a week! However, if you do not want to be a teacher, you can also go to China and work in a different job. If you cannot speak the language well, you should look for Western companies located there. Especially start-ups seem to be a great way to start. I worked at a German start-up company for 6 months.
Education wise, a Bachelor’s degree is the minimum I would say – just like in the Western world. However, if you are lacking a BA or BS, don’t be afraid! Go ahead and study in China or set up your own business! Western cuisine is very big in China – how about a foreign cuisine restaurant?
What opportunities lead people to working and living in China?
Right now, I think there’s all kinds of opportunities to work and live in China. For me it is definitely the culture and my passion for China. I love the country, the way of life and the food.
Career wise I think a lot of people come to China to start their own business. My former boss came to China after studying Chinese himself and set up an online marketing company. The market is there! You have the Chinese population but also a high percentage of foreigners who found their ways to China. This are two potential customer groups that are very different from each other and if you are planning on starting your own business you need to understand that.
How did you find a job in China?
Unlike many other interns I did not find a job through a special agency. There are a lot of these internship agencies which cost a lot of money for services you can easily do yourself. I was looking at hundreds of different job sites specifically designed for foreigners who want to go to China. Here is a list of good job search sites:
Regarding the application itself: always look at where the company is from. If it’s an American company, use the American application format, if it’s a German company, use the German format etc.
NOTE: Since there are not many laws regarding discrimination in China, be prepared to answer personal questions or put a photo on your resume.
Where can I buy the cheapest plane tickets to China?
Of course the price for a plane ticket depends on your location. In my experience, I can really recommend Skyscanner or Swoodoo. Depending on your location you should consider flying in via Hongkong. This is convenient if you are going to be in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, etc.. Ususally flights to Hongkong are much cheaper from the USA and Europe.
What is the best Website for domestic flights?
The mostly used two Websites are Ctrip and Qunar. They both offer cheap flights and also hotels and much more at really good prices! The downside: it does not allow you to book tickets far ahead. Usually, you can only book tickets for in 3 or 4 months.
How do I get a visa?
Unfortunately, almost anybody needs a visa to enter China. If you are a national of Singapore, Brunei or Japan, you are allowed to enter China without visas for up to 15 days.
To get a visa you either need to contact the Chinese embassy or a Chinese consulate in your home country or fly into Hongkong first. Almost everybody can enter Hongkong without a visa and can stay up to 90 days! (Check here to see ff you need a visa for Hongkong or not)
There are many visa agencies based in Hongkong that can provide visa services within a couple of hours. In order to get my 6 month visa I just needed my passport, insurance papers and my work contract – a traveler’s visa is even quicker and easier to get!
I can really recommend this agency which is located close to the Tsim Sha Tsiu Promenade. You can write them an email asking about their different visas and prices and you can even arrange a Skype interview if you are not sure about stuff! My visa was done within 4 hours.
Normally, getting your visa in Hongkong is much cheaper and of course quicker than in your home country. I was sceptical at first, when my boss told me I didn’t have to get the visa done before I come to China but really, there is no need to be worried! If you can, go to Hongkong, stay there a couple of days, do some nice sightseeing and get your visa done. What better way can there be to start your amazing journey in China?
How much is the cost of living in China?
Usually, you would think the cost of living in China is very cheap – yes and no. The cost of living really depends on where you are going to live and how you want to live. There are certain things that are really cheap, like eating out at a Chinese restaurant, sightseeing, shopping for clothes and traveling. On the other side, there are things that are much cheaper than or the same as in the West. Drug store products like make-up, cleansing product, shampoo, creams, etc. are very expensive in China. Also, if you eat at Western restaurants or other non-Chinese cuisine restaurants it can be quite expensive. Partying is also very expensive. However, if you are a girl you usually don’t need to worry about spending money when partying 😉
All in all, when I lived in Guangzhou the cost of living for me was around 4,000 RMB a month. However, I did not have to pay rent. So around $650 or €500 per month. But I have to say, I lived very well! I was traveling a lot, did a lot of shopping and also ate at foreign restaurants from time to time. I also took private Chinese lessons which made up 1,200 RMB per month (200 RMB per hour for one-on-one).
How are you treated by Chinese people?
I have to say I have never experienced anything negative from Chinese people. They are very friendly and curious and usually start talking to you and want to know where you are from and what you are doing. If you can speak Chinese they will praise how good your Chinese is and maybe take a photo of or with you. Depending on where you are going, a big city with lots of foreigners or the contrary, people look at you more.
Do I have to speak Chinese to live in China?
You don’t necessarly have to. However, it is a huge advantage if you can speak the language. Again, depending on your location, people might not speak English and therefore, communication might be a problem. However, if you can’t speak Chinese but really want to go to China, don’t worry! I have met foreigners who went to China without any knowledge of the language and they took Chinese classes and studied at home and by the time they left after 6 months they got the basics down!
If you want to go to China for a certain amount of time and do not plan to learn the language, you should probably choose a big city like Beijing or Shanghai to live in. It will be much easier for you – but if you are looking for a challenge, live in a smaller town!