You just received your invitation letter and work permit, the excitement of actually going to live in China is unbearable! Your departure date is around the corner so you start packing early to be prepared for your new job in China. But wait! What do you need to know about China before you buckle up for the longest flight of your life? Don't stress over the unknown, and unanswered questions. Here is a list of things you should know before you live in China to help you have a more enjoyable transition.
The most stressful thing about moving to a different country is trying to find a place to live. This process does not need to be stressful. To make the process easier, use multiple real estate agents and websites like SmartShanghai.com to help with your search. Also, know that it is very common for 2-3 months' rent plus a deposit to be due on the same day you say “I want this apartment.” Be prepared to have at least ten thousand RMB handy (or twenty thousand just to be safe) just in case. If you haven't got that sort of money, EF can help you with a start-up loan should you need it. When you do finally find an apartment make sure you are not just settling because you are tired of searching. Real estate agents tend to show apartments that are horrible at first; then they will show you a luxurious, modernised home that will be more than you can afford. Do not be tempted into giving up your search and buying a place you cannot afford simply because you are tired. The perfect place for you is out there, and it is within your budget, just have patience.
One thing you will come to love about coming to live in Chinais that literally everything is negotiable, even that expensive apartment you fell in love it. From apartments to gym memberships, cell phones, and purses. Never settle for the original asking price. Remember for a seller some money is better than no money so do push for a bargain.
Yep, you read correctly, make sure before you leave your brand-new apartment you do not forget to bring along a pack of toilet tissue or wipes in your purse or book bag. The majority of China's public toilets are not equipped with toilet tissue so don't forget to bring your own. During the summer, cities in the south of China like Shanghaican get extremely hot, so having a pack of moisturising wipes handy to wipe your face and hands is refreshing.
You have probably heard many people advising you to download a VPN. But why? What is a VPN anyway? A VPN is an app that reroutes the internet server on your phone or laptop for you to have access to social media and other websites that may be blocked. Do not just download one, download several VPNs on your phone and computer. A VPN that can work perfectly back home may not work at all in China. Always have a backup just in case one does not work. Trust me, if you want to live in China with social media like Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube, then you'll need one of these.
The culture here is beautiful, but it is a lot different from what you are probably used to back home. Behaviors which you may consider to be odd back home are viewed as a norm here. From spitting on the street, rushing and pushing to get on the metro train, to the infamous “squatty potties” that sometimes may or may not be equipped with a door; there will be something out of the ordinary that will cause you to take a double look. By having an open mind, you eliminate any negative preconceived bias's and become open to new life-changing experiences. Believe me, these cultural differences soon become a normal way of life, and when they do, you'll enjoy every minute.