Uprooting your family and moving across the globe is a difficult decision to make for any adult, especially when you’ve got small children. That being said, relocating can be very rewarding as well. You get to know new surroundings and have the chance to see how things work on the other side of the globe, which can be quite an enriching experience. However, settling in an unknown environment is not an easy task given how there are a number of considerations that need to be taken into account. From travel arrangements to education to accommodation, there are a plethora of things you need to take care of before you’re able to move across the border. Among the most popular expatriate destinations, China ranked third, preceded only by Singapore and Switzerland. Because of that, in this article, we will shed light on what it’s like to live as an expat in China and how you can balance work life and family life once you move abroad.
Where you decide to move in China will depend on a number of factors, from housing options and living costs to job opportunities and standards of living. These are the factors that will vary from place to place and will usually depend on the size of the city as well as its population.
Chengdu, Xiamen, Xi’an, Shenzhen, and Shanghai are some of the best places to live in China. Bigger cities like Shenzhen will naturally cost more to live in, but they also offer higher salaries. Cities like Xi’an are not as expensive as Hong Kong and Shanghai while also offering great living standards, which is why they’re particularly popular among expats.
Language barriers and socializing
Although it’s deemed to be one of the most vibrant places expats can move to, settling in China can be a bit daunting. This is often due to the fact that many expats don’t speak the language very well, which can pose an obstacle when attempting to communicate. Although many Chinese in urban cities speak English because it’s an important language for business, the language barrier can impede simple day-to-day routines if you don’t speak the language at all. To avoid these situations, take some time to learn the basics of Chinese before heading to your chosen destination as it will help you overcome culture shock a bit easier. There are also some etiquette rules you need to follow if you wish to fit in. Although they aren’t rigorous, it pays to know a few to spare yourself the awkward situations.
Family life in China
When it comes to family life in China, families are closely knit and the roles are divided in a way that isn’t dissimilar to the West. Fathers go to work, while mothers stay at home, and they’re usually the ones who take care of the children, but oftentimes it’s the grandparents who take on that role. Working moms aren’t frowned upon but instead, they’re deemed as more responsible due to the fact that they have kids.
As for the children, their days are filled with various activities as a way of ensuring high academic performance, and expats tend to follow suit by finding quality programs to enroll their children in. In Hong Kong, for example, parents will often search for a fun playgroup in Hong Kong to enroll their kids in. Other than being a great way to get immersed in a new culture, it makes it easier for children to meet friends and make a connection. In addition, their ability to speak the universal language of play makes them natural at building bridges between different cultures, which is a big relief for expat parents.
Finding a job
People in China work really hard, there’s no doubt about that. Regardless of whether it’s weekend or not, they will work until they get the job done. This enables them to reap the rewards in terms of higher salaries, bonuses, and better job positions, so all in all, it pays to put in the extra effort.
If you’re planning to teach English in China, you’re almost guaranteed to find a job there, as it’s a profession that is in high demand at the moment. The same goes for IT positions, marketing, hotel management, and jobs in the field of accounting and finances. Seeking employment in China doesn’t always need to include working in a traditional working environment. Over the past few years, remote working has been gaining in popularity, and more people are seeing the benefits that come with this flexible approach to work, especially individuals with families. All in all, there are a lot of options to choose from, and the job you decide to take should be in line with your needs and the needs of your family.
Moving to a new country as an expat with a family is a tumultuous journey to embark on, and it’s understandable that you’re full of questions that need to be answered in detail. Hopefully, we’ve helped you gain an insight into what an expat lifestyle in China looks like and provided you with information you can refer to when the time comes to move abroad and start a new and exciting chapter in your life as an expat in China.