Choosing China for your next expat adventure

Choosing China for your next expat adventure

Choosing China for your next expat adventure

Becoming an expat in China is an exciting project being undertaken by an increasing number of professionals in the IT sector.

Although China is now one of the most inviting prospects for expat professionals, integrating is more of a challenge than in almost any other world country. From its history and fascinating culture through its admittedly difficult language to its social and relationship behavioural norms, challenges hit home almost before new arrivals leave the airport. Nevertheless, China is one of the world’s most amazing countries, well worth getting to know as a result.

The toughest two obstacles to becoming an ‘old China hand’ are, without any doubt, the language and the culture, both of which are intertwined so closely it’s tricky for a Westerner to know where to start. The hierarchical etiquette present in both office and familial relationships dates back thousands of years and needs to be understood. Losing face or making another person lose face are serious offences, and learning to respect the authority of your Chinese superiors is essential, both in and out of the office. Egalitarianism simply doesn’t exist in Chinese society, and Westerners are scrutinised very carefully.

It’s well known that Chinese bureaucracy and its attendant paperwork is at best a nightmare, making preparing all necessary documentation one of every expat’s least favourite tasks. Being computer literate helps a lot, especially in the realm of visa applications and health insurance. For the vast majority of new arrivals in China, there comes a moment when it’s all too much and loneliness kicks in, with the only answer being to maintain as closely as possible all contacts with family and friends back home, at least until you feel more settled. To do this successfully, you’ll need a reliable VPN in order to sidestep the Great Firewall of China.

Filing taxes whilst living overseas is frustrating, boring and infuriating, which is why most expats in China prefer to hire a professional to do it for them. You’ll obviously need to be transparent about your salary as well as your expenses, and you’re expected to read all about Chinese tax laws before you arrive. Hiring a bilingual accountant is the only sensible way to go, with a recommendation from a work colleague the most reliable source. Once you’re in, legal and settled, you’ll begin to realise you’ve hit the jackpot by choosing China, as it’s perhaps the most stunning, fascinating and addictive country on the planet.

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