Moving to a new country should be nothing but exciting: new job, new culture, new opportunities. When it comes to moving to China, you can expect new everything! I realise how this could cause a nervous gulp and sweaty palms, so let me highlight some of the top reasons that spring to mind for taking that super-step toward a new life in this proud and prosperous country.

  1. Experience a unique culture
    The culture of China, along with their written language is one of the oldest in the world. To be surrounded by alien characters, the sound of a completely unfamiliar language, unusual customs and an incredibly well-preserved ancient history is a privilege. Although it can take some time to adjust, I assure you it never becomes dull – China always has something new up its sleeve to maintain your interest.

2. Health and safety gone mad? Not in China
What is refreshing about this is that everyone takes responsibility for themselves: if you trip over the pile of bricks left in the path, it’s your own fault, use your eyes! Walking down the street has never been so entertaining as you walk past welders with no eye protection, and window cleaners hanging from a length of rope. But if for any reason you’d need to use a hospital in China, it’s cheap, convenient, and efficient.

A genius way to get the painting done faster

3. Wonderful work hours

A lot of opportunities to teach in China are at after-school training centres. First Leap for example (who I currently worth with) require you to work evenings Wed-Fri and full days on Saturday and Sunday. That’s just 5hrs short of a three day weekend! With so much free time you can ensure a happy work/play balance and feel rested enough to perform brilliantly during your classes.

4. Street food galore

For breakfast, lunch and dinner – the options are endless. Street vendors are always at the ready to deliver delicious wraps, BBQ’d meat-on-a-stick, fresh noodles, rice, and all at such an affordable price. For example, the common Jianbing, a simple yet delicious egg/pancake wrap, will set you back 5 yuan (50p).

Sizzling street food in the city of Xi’an

5. A true sense of community

You only have to walk around in the early hours of the morning, or as the sun begins to set to witness locals coming together. Singing, dancing, Tai Chi, card games, general chit-chat, badminton – it doesn’t matter what, as long as the young and the old can gather in their masses to enjoy the outdoors, they are happy. Community is important to the Chinese, so grab your camera, leave your inhibitions at the door and embrace it.

6. Affordable living

Of course rent prices differ depending on the city/village, but housing is far more affordable here than in the western world. One hour north of Beijing, small apartments can be rented for as little as 1800 yuan a month (£180) with water and electricity bills setting you back a further 120 yuan (£12). That means less money spent on bills, and more on life!

7. Public toilets on every corner

A strange one to include, maybe. But in a country with so many people, it’s great the government have gone to so much effort to ensure moments of desperation are covered. It impresses me that China has kept their toilets free and although not always the cleanest, money is always being spent on improvements.

8. Incredible food

This should be a given, but needs to be mentioned. Forget your local Chinese takeaway; expect local delicacies, fresh ingredients, to-die-for aromas, spice, hot pot and a whole lot of rice. Each province rustles up something famous to the area, so do your research and go in search of new foods that suit you.

A dry hotpot famous in Harbin, Heilongjiang province

9. Clean clean clean

Too many people have this misconception that China is a dirty country. Sure they are struggling with pollution issues, but it wasn’t that long ago that London had worse problems. I guarantee if you walk down the busy streets of a Chinese city, you will see little to no litter. Street sweepers are aplenty, usually at (what should be) retiring age and businesses pass over their daily waste to bin men in the early hours of the morning.

10. Every weekend = new experience

China is a huge country with so much to offer. Even if you were to stay local to your chosen city, I guarantee each weekend could be spent exploring or experiencing something new. A word of warning: once you start branching out in China, you probably won’t be able to sit still.

Branch out and visit places such as the famous Ice Festival in Harbin

11. Join the gym – it’s free!

Outdoor gyms are the thing in Asia and my guess is at least 10 can be found in each region of a city. They are modern, free and full of interesting characters – see if you can stretch your leg higher than some of the elderly folk.

12. Get to know the locals

Spending significant time in one place is the best way to get to know the locals. My opinion of Chinese people has changed dramatically during my time here – what once I thought were fierce stares of hatred, I realised were looks of intrigue. The more you relax and open up the sooner you realise Chinese people are kind, helpful, fun and a little bit crazy (in a good way, of course).

A 60+ yr old swimming in a frozen lake in winter. Crazy? A little.

13. Bus, taxi, tuktuk, bicycle, electric bike, train, plane, on foot, subway…

The choice really is yours on how you get from A to B. Travelling on your very first bullet train is available here and at, of course, a very reasonable price. It’s hard to say which mode of transport is the best as they all offer super fun alternatives to driving!

14. Create strong bonds (with the kids)

Along with health and safety in the western world, there are so many rules to abide by when working with kids. Here in China, it is almost encouraged by the parents for you to show their children affection. Certainly in my school it is more about creating a fun, bright and interactive environment where you’re not only teaching children, but you are taking the time to truly get to know them as individuals.

15. Green living

Parks are everywhere! And if you can’t find yourself a park, I challenge you to keep count of the number of trees down one side of the road. The population growth may be exponential, but they truly care for their plan life and do their best to grow in every available space.

Yuyuantan park during spring, Beijing

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please fire away 🙂