You have waited patiently for your visa, sent in all your documents, made it to the airport, got on the plane (or two or three) and finally have landed in China. You're currently recovering from jetlag, and now you're starting your new chapter teaching English in China! As you search around for apartments, you may notice that you have to buy essentials to get started such as bedding, kitchen utensils, pots, dishes, household items, etc.
So where can you go and what do you (most likely) need?
Here is a helpful checklist to get you started:
Bedding:This may include a duvet, cover sheet, pillows and pillowcases. ¥50 - ¥700+
Mattress Pad: There is a chance you will get a nice place with a soft bed, but there is also a high chance that your bed will not be soft. Be prepared to sleep on top of all your clothes until you find a mattress pad. ¥80 - ¥250+
Kitchenware:Dishes, glasses, cups, kitchen utensils (silver spoon, fork, knife, and my favourite utensil – the soup spoon!) ¥10 - ¥30 (each).
Pots and pans:(if you like to cook) You can always start out with a saucepan for soup, hard boiling eggs, and heating up water and liquids.) ¥10 - ¥50 (each).
Towels:¥10 - ¥100 (each)
House slippers: ¥10 - ¥130
Bathroom slippers: ¥10 - ¥100
Trash cans: ¥10 - ¥75
Laundry detergent: ¥30 and up
Floor sweeper and floor wipes: ¥10 and up
Umbrella (depending on the season): ¥10 and up
Miniso / Ximi Vogue / Daiso:
These Japanese and Korean shops are the best! They have items that cost 10 RMB each. They are usually small and organized, and, you can find almost everything you need in super cute packaging. You can find everything - from kitchen utensils to laundry detergent, cleaning supplies to stationery; as well as underwear, water bottles, earphones, makeup, teddy bears, and more!
For everything you need in one enormous place, go to Ikea. You will have a lot of luck finding all your bed, kitchen and bath essentials. Make sure to reserve half a day to shop there because it is a great big maze. You may get lost and end up wandering through one section of bed sheets for half an hour.
This megastore has all the essentials as well. You can stock up on your toiletries as well as food and snacks. You can find Carrefour in most major cities around the world.
Your neighbourhood shops:
Take a moment to walk around in your new neighbourhood and you will likely find everything you need with 3-4 blocks (if you live in one of the mega cities). If you're brave enough to negotiate, you can bargain and easily save a lot of money.
Taobao and T-Mall are the Chinese online shopping sites, so you might need a local friend to help you set that up. Compared to Baopals, there are more choices and better prices. Due to everything being in Chinese, it's a little difficult to use on a regular basis without help from a local friend or colleague.
If you're willing to wait for some items, then create an account on Baopals! This is the English-friendly online shopping site that is especially useful and addicting for expats. You can find everything you need. I think it's just as good as Amazon. The website is user-friendly and easy to manoeuvre and checkout with if you have WeChat or Alipay. The only thing you will need help with is getting your shipping address translated into Chinese for the courier.