Erica Fairchild

Congratulations! You have officially decided that you're going to move your life to China and personally, I think that is a wonderful decision you have just made. Next step – decide which city is going to be your new home. Chances are that if you've already decided to move to China, then you have already heard of some cities that you can go to. Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Xi'an, Hangzhou, Xiamen, and my personal favorite, Shanghai! This list is only a very short peek into all the different places in China where you can go live, so how in the world do you decided where to go? Well, that depends on you.

First, before you decide where to live, you should ask yourself some basic questions.

City size

How big of a city do you want to live in? Remember, China's population is 1.4 billion people, so what constitutes a major city in most western countries is only a small or mid-sized city in China.

Cost of living

Do you want to save money? Compared to most English-speaking countries, China has a low cost of living and you can save a lot of money here. However, if your primary goal here is to save money you should probably consider cities that have a lower cost of living, like Suzhou, Kunshan, Fuzhou, and other smaller cities. Fortunately, if you want to live in a big city and save money you can live in places like Guangzhou and Shenzhen.


Do you like the snow in Winter or would you rather relax on the beach on Christmas? China is a large country with different climates to fit your needs. If you like freezing temperatures you can head to the northern tip of China, but if you like warm weather all year round, head to the south of China. If you like all four seasons then you guessed it – head to central China.

Amount of foreigners

Do you want a city with a thriving expat community or one with a close-knit expat community? There are benefits to both of these. If you live in a smaller town, you won't have as many options for fellow expat friends so you will have to make friends with the locals. If you live in a big city, there are expats from all over the world. You can meet local people, but you can also meet people from France, Spain, Colombia, Kenya. It gives you a chance to learn not only about the local culture but also other cultures around the world!

Recreational activities

Is it a must that you have access to mountains to climb? Do you want to ride the waves regularly? Shop at Gucci on a teacher's salary (I advise against that)? Whatever it is you like to do during your spare time, you need to consider if the city you're considering has this or has it close by.

Food (vegetarian/vegan/halal)

Do you have any dietary restrictions? Vegetarianism and Veganism are not very popular in China so if you have any special dietary requirements, the bigger cities are probably where you'll want to stay. It also might be smart to stick to bigger cities if you have allergies as these are not common among local people either.

Ability to learn Chinese

Do you want to learn Chinese? Technically, you can learn Mandarin anywhere in China as it is the official language. However, in bigger cities, like Shanghai and Beijing, most people have some knowledge of the English language and it is very easy to live there without ever speaking Chinese, so you might want to check out smaller cities that can give you a more immersive experience.

Okay, so you've considered all the points above and you've done your research. You applied to jobs and aced the interview because you wowed your interviewer with all your knowledge of China. Now all that's left to do is pack, get on the plane, and come enjoy your new home sweet home!

Post by: Brandon Ray


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