Is China now experiencing an expat exodus

Is China now experiencing an expat exodus

Is China now experiencing an expat exodus

Is the expat love affair with China coming to an end?

For most of the past decade, expatriating to China was the Holy Grail for English teachers, techies and entrepreneurs, with the country’s officials breaking their backs to provide facilities, support, backers, advice and a welcome usually kept for sports stars. By 2018, the formerly shuttered country’s city of Nanjing was a home from home for almost 19,000 Westerners, all of whom were portrayed as having the time of their lives. As 2020 starts up, the city’s numbers of expats now total just 16,000, with the exodus continuing and other major cities including Shanghai also seeing many expats leaving.

Amongst many reasons for leaving, depression and the fact that doing business is far harder than before are two of the major causes. The latter isn’t just applicable to expat professionals as it’s taking place across the board, possibly as a result of the US/China trade war but more likely to be a reaction to unwanted foreign influence. Expats are now finding living and working within this unique cultural conglomeration is taking the shine off the entire expat experience, leading to depression and a wish to leave.

For those who arrived with trailing spouses, the risk of depression is even more acute, as partners of both sexes are likely to have left successful professional lives in order to take advantage of the groundbreaking opportunity of working in China. Without a similar circle of friends and the difficulty of adjusting to a totally unfamiliar way of life, it’s no surprise that alcoholism, drug use and gambling are often the final result.

For expats hoping to make friends with local people it’s even more tricky, as the Chinese concept of friendship is very different from its Western equivalent. Chinese don’t ‘hang out’ as do Westerners, only making contact when in need. For those feeling stuck through no fault of their own, there are solutions – leave, as many are now doing, seek professional help or make a real effort to think positively about your situation.

Believe it or not, taking the traditional Chinese medicine known as the ‘day lily’ is effective in tackling depression as well as insomnia and various other physical ailments. In addition, Shanghai’s International Mental Health Association lists city-based therapists of all nationalities.

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