8 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Moving to China
When you decide to move to China for work or opportunities that allow you to study in China in English, it is important that you prepare yourself for a long term move and learn as much as you can about China before your arrival. One great way to do this is to speak with local expats that are already studying in China or to the school you will be studying at for direct referrals. Here are eight things I wish I knew before moving to China:
1. Rent Is Due Either 3 Months or 6 Months Up Front: You really need to come to China with at least 6 to 8 months of rent saved ideally. The reason for this is that leases typically have a requirement of being paid in advance. Depending on what you can negotiate, you will have to pay a deposit of one month’s rent, either 3 or 6 months of rent, and then an agent fee if you use one. Be sure you are aware of this when looking for real estate so that you don’t have to pay a substantial amount of capital that you have not already saved up prior to arrival.
2. You Usually Need to Pay an Agent Fee of One Month’s Rent: Depending on the contact you have with a leasing office, you are going to have to pay one month’s rent to an agent. Be sure to prepare for this financially before you arrive to China or ask around to colleagues to see whether you can find a legitimate lease without using an agent. This will be a nice savings for you that you can use for travel.
3. Utilities Can Be Paid by AliPay or WeChat: As soon as you decide where you will be living, you can set it up that your Internet, water, and electric bills are all payed through the WeChat App that is linked to your bank account. This is a wonderful convenience that you should absolutely take advantage of because you will be able to pay your bills on time with very little effort.
4. Passports Are Required to Stay in Hotels: It is important that you understand that as a foreigner, you are required to present your passport at all hotels to stay there. The hotel will also check that you have a valid visa. It is important that you are aware of this to avoid unnecessary issues.
5. VPN’s Are a Necessity to Access Major News Websites: If you need Google, The New York Times, BBC, etc. then you will need a VPN to break through China’s firewall. Downloading this before arrival is important as many of the VPN’s company websites are blocked within Mainland China to avoid citizens having access to them. If you purchase a VPN, you will be able to use it on all of your devices including: laptops, desktop computers, iPads, and iPhones. There are plenty of them to choose from, but Astrill is a well priced, reliable one.
6. Having a Translator While Opening a Bank Account Is Beneficial: When I tried to open my bank account, figure out how to wire money home, and tried to link my WeChat Pay, it was an ordeal that could have been simplified by having someone that spoke fluent Mandarin with me at the bank. If you have limited Chinese skills, either hire a translator or ask a friend who is fluent in Chinese to assist you. This will make you have to only visit the bank once and will simplify your process overall.
7. Having an Air Purifier Is Wise for Your Home: China has gotten better about air pollution this year; however, it is wise to invest in an air purifier for your home. Usually, an air purifier can be purchase for around 600 RMB and is a great investment for your health while you are living in China.
8. Tao Bao Can Deliver Almost Anything to Your Home in Less Than 48 Hours: Tao Bao is a delightful extension of Alibaba. The website allows you to order anything, and literally anything to your home within 48 hours. You can order a pet hedgehog or a treadmill that will be assembled by their delivery team to workout with, the choice is yours!
Moving to China will be a major adjustment as a student. It is important that you consider the tips mentioned above to assist you with your upcoming relocation to China. By planning your transition in advance and properly doing your research, you will be able to relax and enjoy your experience while studying in China.
By: Senior Editor Jacquelyn Annette García Vadnais