How To Move to China

How to move to China in 5 Steps

You have decided to take the plunge and move to China.  Congratulations, you are in for a truly unique experience that you can really only appreciate and understand once you are here.  So what do you need to do to become an expat and live in China?  Follow these five steps on how to move to China and you will be well on your way.

Moving to China

Step 1: Finish up what you are doing at home

Finish what you are doing in your current city.  Moving to China, especially for a westerner, is a lot tougher than say moving from America to Europe. The difference in culture is enormous. If you plan to live in China for a while (a year or more) let your employer know your last day of work, tell your friends your departure date, cancel your cable, gas, electric bills etc. Give your landlord a heads up your contract will finish at the end of the month.  Tie up any lose ends before making the move.

Step 2: Pick a city

China is the fourth largest country in the world with over 170 cities over 1 million people!  You need to have a clue of which city you want to live in before you move to China.  The biggest and most westernized city in China is Shanghai.  The capital and second largest city is Beijing with third biggest city being Guangzhou in the south with a close proximity to Hong Kong.  While many foreigners elect to move to one of these 3 cities, you should research what kind of experience you want to have in your move to china.  Urban China vs. Rural China.  Living in the countryside is definitely a more “real” Chinese experience but often more difficult for foreigners.

Step 3: Get a Visa

Once you have chosen which city you are going to move to in China, you need to apply for a Chinese visa.  Google search, “visa service + your city” and for a small fee they will handle the whole visa filing process.  Alternatively, you can go to the closest Chinese embassy to you and fill out the forms yourself, which can be difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing.  The 3 main types of visas are: tourist, business, and working. Processing your visa takes anywhere from 1-2 weeks so plan ahead.

Step 4: Book a flight

The best time to move to China would be in the fall as the weather is usually the most mild then.  I would recommend taking a red eye flight through a domestic Chinese airline.   When flying that long of a distance, try to look for nonstop flight as the wear and tear of traveling will catch up with you your first few days in china.

Step 5: Find a Job

There is an abundance of jobs in China if you are a native English speaker as there are always plenty of English teaching jobs available. If you are somewhat attractive, there is also a large market for foreign models.  There are also corporate jobs available but usually require fluency in Mandarin.

Do you have any more tips for foreigners looking to move to China? Feel free to leave them in the comments section below.


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