What are the Pros and Cons of Living in China? (For Expats)

Living in China has about the same pros and cons of living anywhere else in the world. In recent years, the number of expats living in China has hugely increased, many of them think the pros outweigh the cons.

While some people would argue that living in a foreign country can’t be that wonderful, those who did choose to work and live in China have discovered that they wouldn’t choose to live anywhere else!

Listed below are some major pros and cons for living in China, you can take them as a reference when making your own decision:

Pros of Living in China:

Unique Culture/Language

You may have a goal of learning cultures and languages more thoroughly so that you can become an expert in a particular culture. This is possible when you live in China.

Imagine learning enough Mandarin so you can easily order a meal in that language at a restaurant, or to haggle over the prices at a local market. The culture will be an eye-opening experience for you,  at the same time allowing you to see how things from the past have shaped the future.

Inexpensive to Live

Inexpensive living cost in China is a big advantage for expats

Depending on the location you live, it can be extremely cheap to live in China. This is especially true when you have a job where your rent is paid or subsidized for by your employer.

Even if you need to pay your rent each month, you will still find that you have more than enough money to go out to eat and travel to the many places that you want to see.

Convenience and Access to a Wide Range of Services

When you live in China, you have the convenience and access to services that only the rich seem to have back home.

For example, you can have your restaurant order delivered to you anytime you can, it’s almost a daily routine for a lot of young Chinese people.

Want to level up your living? Getting a pampering massage every now and then, or a one-year gym membership are all very much affordable in China with the income for most expats.

Moreover, you can easily afford to have someone come to clean your home or order groceries and have them delivered. Or have clothing made just for you for a lot less than purchasing it through a regular store back home.

Great Variety in Foods

There is so much variety when it comes to food in China and you can easily choose to dine on numerous regional cuisines when you are there.

Imagine digging into Hunan or Dongbei one night and Taiwanese or Tibetan the next. The best part is that there are also plenty of international foods available here, so you will never need to go without your favorite Mexican, Indian, Italian, or French dish while living there!

Very Safe to Live

China is quite safe compared to other countries because there is not as much racial tension that is prominent in many other areas of the world.

The locals are also very accepting of foreigners because they know that those foreigners are in the area working hard to provide a service that would otherwise be non-existent.

There are no gun rights in China either, so there is little chance that a gunman is going to be running through the streets killing people.

Public Transportation is Great

Transportation in China is amazing. It allows you to easily travel from one city to another in record time. The railways have more than one hundred twenty-four kilometers of tracks and twenty-two thousand of those kilometers are for high-speed railways.

It is possible for a person to take the railways anywhere in China, including the more remote mountain areas. Taking a bus through the city will get you where you are going quickly, without needing to worry about walking there or getting lost.

It is not recommended to take buses far distances, due to the discomfort of them. The metro is a much better option for travel throughout the cities though, as you can get somewhere in a shorter amount of time than the bus.

Travel Without Breaking Your Bank

Travelling in china is a big binus working and living in china

The options are endless when it comes to travel around China and nearby countries, and this is the top reason why many people choose to teach in China.  You can easily travel to many places for a couple of days, a long weekend, or a week without breaking your budget.

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Cons of Living in China:

Internet Restrictions

In China, there are numerous internet restrictions in place. Those restrictions make it difficult for those foreigners who are used to having access to everything that they want online and much more.

A workaround for this issue is a really good VPN, but those are not always reliable.  Therefore, you must be prepared to get yourself used to the Chinese version of the internet, apps or websites that are built and accessed in China.

Pollution Issue

Although improving each year, pollution in China can be quite bad. The pollution is caused by many things, and it’s mostly present in major cities, where manufacturing is present every day. Thankfully, the pollution is not as bad out in the country, or some less populated cities.

Language Barrier 

When a person arrives in China, there is little chance that they know how to speak, read, or write much the local language.

This can become a barrier in so many ways: at work, out on the town, and more. Depending on the person’s determination to learn the local language, it can take months or even years for one to speak good-enough Mandarin to carry on basic conversations.

>> 8 Best Apps to Learn Chinese

>> 7 Must-Know Chinese Translation Tools

New Friends, or No Friends

making Friends with locals while living in china as an expat

It can be difficult to immediately make friends in China, due to cultural and language differences. While it can take time to find friends, once a person does find a few, they will eventually be introduced to more like-minded people to hang out with.

Rising Costs

As with everywhere else, China is experiencing rising costs, and no one knows when those rising costs will stop. Therefore, you must be prepared to pay an increase in your rent, pay more for food, and pay more to have the services that you have grown used to since moving to China.


Once you have gone through all the pros and cons of living in China, you can then make a decision on whether living there is in your best interests.

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