A tale of five Chinese cities for adventurous expats

A tale of five Chinese cities for adventurous expats

A tale of five Chinese cities for adventurous expats

Nowadays, China is perhaps the hottest ever destination for expat professionals and budding entrepreneurs.

Scarcely a week goes by without yet another online article about expat opportunities in one of the world’s most challenging destinations. Each of China’s five mega-cities is competing with its rivals to attract the best and most innovative expat talent, and each has its own individual advantages and disadvantages. To make the decision just slightly more complicated for those attempting to learn Mandarin Chinese, four out if the five speak either their own dialects or Cantonese!

Beijing’s massive conurbation is home to a huge expat community, making it straightforward for new arrivals to put together a network of personal friends and business contacts. Its historic sites, cheap and efficient public transport and bustling expat jobs market in all sectors is a bonus, and the majority of locals speak standard Mandarin Chinese. Downsides include pollution, expensive housing, crowded public spaces and freezing cold winters.

Shenzhen hardly existed three decades ago and is now one of the vast country’s major hubs for business. Westernised and modern, it has all the advantages needed for foreign entrepreneurs to become successful, and its jobs market offers positions with high salaries and opportunities to advance. It’s also within an hour’s travel from Hong Kong, one of Asia’s coolest cities. Cantonese is the local language and the cost of living is admittedly on the high side as regards apartment rentals and food.

Chengdu’s slower pace of life is attractive to many would-be expats, with its mountainous surroundings great for outdoor activities and its spicy cuisine celebrated the world over. The jobs market is smaller, but it’s still possible to get relatively highly-paid positions. Its lower costs of living makes saving possible, and it’s a favourite with expat start-ups. Downsides include some pollution, overcast weather for the majority of the year and the local dialect, similar to Mandarin but tricky for non-nationals.

Xaimen is known as an island paradise for its subtropical climate and natural beauty. English teaching is the easiest job to get, and locals are more open to foreigners than in other destinations..There’s’ a well-established expat community, and Taiwan is easily accessible as regards visa runs. The Xiamen dialect is so unique even locals have problems understanding it, but most young people can speak Mandarin.

As for Kunming, its major advantages are a relatively low pollution index, solid jobs market, established expat community, relaxed lifestyle and lower cost of living, but the real reason to move there is its location in fascinatingly beautiful Yunnan province. The region’s incredibly diverse society contains more than two dozen minority groups, and is the result of centuries of movement between what is now China and Southeast Asia. The descendents of massive migrations southward from Yunnan over two millennia spread out and populated Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and even further afield, bringing with them their traditions, religions and culture.

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