living in china shanghai

Moving to China

China Score
Shithole Paradise

What is China?

moving to china flag

China is a massive country in East Asia which will probably be the global superpower of the 21st century

The People’s Republic of China is the most populous country in the world, with about one in six humans residing in China.

China is really massive, with 5 time zones and an area of nearly 10 million square kilometers, making it the second largest country in the world.

It borders 14 countries, such as Vietnam, Pakistan, India, Mongolia, North Korea, and so on.

The PRC has two Special Administrative Regions, Hong Kong and Macau. These are Chinese zones with some token form of autonomy.

China would love to turn Taiwan into a similar region, but they aren’t having any of it.

Notable cities in China are the capital of Beijing and the financial metropolis of Shanghai.

If you’re looking for a country with a rich history, you can’t do much better than China.

It was one of the world’s first civilizations (dating back many millennia), and one of the foremost economic powers for most of human history.

For most of its history, China was ruled by dynasties.

This ended in 1912, when the Republic of China was formed. After World War 2, the Chinese Communist Party gained power, ushering in an era of absolute terror, starvation and death.

Currently, it’s a dictatorship in all but its name.

The technical term used to describe China’s regime is a “unitary one-party socialist republic”, which is basically an oligarchy.

Notable features of contemporary China include widespread human rights abuses, political repression, mass censorship, mass surveillance and violent suppression of dissent.

Despite all that, China has massive clout across the world, with many countries owing it a lot of money.

China has the world’s largest economy by GDP, and is the second-wealthiest country.

Its economy is still growing at a rapid pace, and currently it is the world’s largest manufacturer and exporter (“Made in China”), although it’s possible countries like India could overtake it in the future in this regard.

Due to its large global market share, strong military, economic potential and global political influence, China will almost certainly be the world’s largest superpower in the 21st century.

If we look at China’s geography, there aren’t many features that cannot be found in this massive country. There are deserts, subtropical forests, mountain ranges, massive cities, huge rivers, great beaches, steppes, small villages, and so on.

Its climate again varies wildly, but is mainly dominated by dry seasons and wet monsoons. This means that there are usually noticeable differences between winter and summer.

Like many other nations I’ve talked about, China is one of the 17 megadiverse countries in the world. In fact, after Brazil and Colombia, it is the most biodiverse country in the world.

China’s been suffering from self-inflicted environmental deterioration and pollution, which is really pronounced in cities like Shanghai.

I’ve lived there, and there were days that you could not go outside because of the heavy pollution in the air.

In general, China has diplomatic and friendly relations with most other countries, but of course things are pretty tense with Taiwan, India, Tibet, and some other nations.

It’s very close with Russia though.

And, of course, at some point the emerging superpower China will clash with the declining superpower of the USA.

All in all, China’s doing many things right, and it could be one of the best countries in the world, if only it backed off with the dictatorial shit.

living in china
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Requirements for moving to China

The requirements for moving to China are pretty strict, but manageable.

The cost of living isn’t that restrictive, nor is the language barrier.

Yes, you will need to learn Mandarin if you want to live in China for a long time, but honestly, speaking the language of the upcoming superpower isn’t a bad idea at all.

However, China can boast a “Moderate” English proficiency, so if you stick to educated circles, odds are you can manage without having to learn much Mandarin.

During my time there, I did learn basic Mandarin (some commonly used phrases), and when that failed, rudimentary English and pointing/gesturing often did the trick.

Going to China will almost always require you to get a visa in advance.

Sometimes this can be renewed, often it cannot.

You can get a Business visa and a residence permit, which can be renewed – usually.

However, they do require you to invest some significant amount in the country.

Other options are being an international “talent”, or having some outstanding achievements. This is mostly aimed at respected scientists or celebrities.

What is the cost of living in China?

The cost of living in China can be pretty low, very high, and everything in between. It greatly depends on where you live, and what your requirements are.

On average, a single person should expect to spend around $1,500 a month, but if you want to make sure you have everything you need, aim for roughly $2,500 to $3,000.

Of course, if you speak Mandarin and move to a 3rd tier city (or a village somewhere), you can easily get by with $500.

It all depends on your situation.

Benefits of living in China

  • Economic powerhouse

    China has one of the largest economies in the world, and even after decades of sturdy growth, is still growing at a rapid pace

  • Superpower

    Unless they really screw things up, China will become the 21st century global superpower. Living here and taking advantage of that fact can certainly yield great benefits

  • High standard of living

    China scores pretty high on quality of life (education, life expectancy, availability of luxury items, etc) – if you have money

  • Antireligious

    China officially espouses state Atheism, which means religion plays almost no part in public life. This means this country is very unlikely to have some religious nutcase in charge of the nukes, or blocking valuable scientific research for silly reasons

  • Moderate cost of living

    If you earn about $3,000 per month, you should be able to live a decent life in China, and not want for much

  • Ancient culture

    Chinese culture has been going strong for over 4 millennia, and you can still see signs of this in the ancient monuments, such as the Forbidden City, Wall of China, and so on

  • Transportation

    China has a pretty extensive public transportation network between cities, and especially in cities like Shanghai the subway systems are top of the line. Really easy to use, pretty cheap, and overall very convenient

moving to china

Downsides of living in China

  • Authoritarian shithole

    The Chinese government really cracks down on your freedom. You cannot say what you want, the internet is blocked off (Great Firewall of China), certain events are taboo to talk about, citizens are subjected to a “social credit score” system, and so on

  • Pollution

    Living in a metropolis like Shanghai is awesome, except for the near-constant presence of smog. Rivers are polluted, and the air quality if often really, really subpar

  • Ties with other dictators

    China’s pretty close with other regimes such as Russia and North Korea. When (not if) the US clashes with any of those, China could get involved, and World War 3 could erupt. Don’t think it cannot happen

Moving to China - by the numbers

China Score
Shithole Paradise

Climate: 7.3/10

Hours of sunshine (9/10) Temperature (5/10) Rainy days (10/10) Humidity (8/10)
12 C – 54 F
65% - depends heavily on the location, varies between 45 and 85%

Level of English: 6/10

Moderate Proficiency

Cost of Living: 9/10

Minimum Annual Wage Average monthly cost single person

Taxes on international income: 7/10

3 to 45%

If you are considered a non-resident (spend less than 183 days per year in the country), you pay no taxes.

Economic growth: 9/10

Average GDP growth over the last 10 years: 7%

Safety: 8.3/10

Global Terrorism Index (8/10) Intentional homicide rate (10/10) Rape rate (7/10)
Moderate, but there are very few statistics

Visa: 4/10

  • Visa (7/10)

    A Tourist visa is required, and this is sometimes renewable, but often not. A Business visa is possible for 10 years, as is a Residence permit, which is renewable every year

  • Permanent Residence (5/10)

    A Chinese “Green Card” is possible, but there are several requirements, either through heavy investment, be an international talent, have some recognized achievements, and so on

  • Citizenship (0/10)

    Unless you have a Chinese relative, this is not possible

how if life in china for expats

How is life in China for expats?

If you have money, speak Mandarin, don’t mind the human rights abuses and smog, China is a great place to live.

It will almost certainly be the next great superpower in the world, so living or doing business here can yield massive benefits.

In addition, and I can speak from experience, living in China is fun.

Yes, there are plenty of downsides, and I’m sure they’ve gotten worse since I was there, but man, living in a metropolis like Shanghai or Beijing is awesome.

That being said, would I recommend moving to China? Depends on your situation, but most likely not.

If you’re an entrepreneur with multiple passports and streams of income from all over the world, you could make it work in China on a part-time basis.

Once you start living there full-time, you’d have to pay taxes (avoiding them could land you in a Chinese jail, which you don’t want to be in), so that isn’t ideal at all.

On the other hand, if you’ve got a family, no real drive to learn Mandarin or if you’re appalled by the restrictions on your freedom … fuck China, there are other and better options.

China’s only good if you go there for business, some other economic reason, or short visits for whatever reason.

Plant the majority of your flags elsewhere, and only consider China if you’ve got a pressing reason to do so.  

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One thought on “Moving to China

  1. C

    China is lying about its growth. The country’s numerous scandals and social issues exist not in spite of, but as a result of its economic situation.

    According to the above study, China’s reported GDP contradicts publicly measurable data such as satellite night light measurements, electricity consumption, and import/export records. Many local prefectures lie about growth to benefit from government incentives.

    China has a notable issue with “tofu-dreg” buildings. Construction companies cut so many corners that many new buildings are falling apart faster than historical ones. Entire cities are abandoned after soon after construction.

    According to the Heritage Economic Freedom Index, Chinese government spending and debt are 34.5% and 66.8% of GDP respectively while the US’s figures are 38.9% and 127.1%. These statistics are based on China’s reported GDP.

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