Don’t Move to China Until You Do These 5 Things

Planning on making a move to China? Like any other move to any other country, you need to be prepared, not just financially but emotionally and mentally as well. China is a big country with exciting cultures waiting to be experienced, but you have to start with a stable transition from where you are now to your new home. Here’s how you can make this transition go as smoothly as possible.

Learn basic Mandarin

Survival Chinese will come in handy as soon as you step off the plane. It can be difficult to find someone who understands or speaks English on a functional level, even in China’s massive international airports. Knowing survival Chinese words and phrases can help your travel and transit experiences move smoothly and might even help you make a few friends the moment you land. Locals are always friendly to foreigners who try to adjust to their way of life, and knowing how to speak the language is a good place to start. It’s as easy as downloading a language app on your phone and learning a few phrases a few days or weeks before your big trip to China.

Know how to Use WeChat and Maps 

WeChat is the quintessential app that people on the mainland use for everything, from banking and paying bills to book grooming appointments for their pet poodles. WeChat is like a combination of Facebook, Paypal, and Venmo, and it’s also a platform for many other services that use its Mini App feature. This means you can order food on WeChat, book a Didi, the Chinese Uber, and even book your plane tickets. Maps are going to be useful for moving around your city for the first few days. For less hassle, download an English version of a Chinese map app so you can start moving around without fear of getting lost.

Get the required vaccinations 

Getting a visa to China means getting all the required vaccinations for inbound travelers. These include vaccinations for DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus), polio, Hepatitis A, and MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccines. Additional vaccinations may be required depending on what part of the country you are moving to.

Get a VPN 

A VPN (virtual private network) becomes an essential tool when you move to China. Sites like Google and Facebook are off-limits which means that you will be completely out of the loop if you have no way to access sites like these. A VPN also allows you to access sites that can’t be accessed from the mainland, like Western news channels and shopping platforms.

Know what kind of city you are moving to 

Your China experience can vary widely depending on several factors, among them the kind of city you live in. First or second-tier cities are often more developed and have more access to things that many foreigners are accustomed to, like Western food and retail brands, better public toilets, more people who can speak English, and other familiar comforts. They may also be more expensive, especially when it comes to rent and food. If you move to a smaller city, however, your access to these things can become limited. In smaller cities, Western food can be harder to come by and maybe more expensive. You might find one or two KFC outlets or a McDonald’s in a small city in Yunnan, for example, and nothing else. Knowing what kind of city you are moving to can help you prepare financially, emotionally, and mentally so you can manage the culture shock.

Whether you are moving to China for a few years for work or you plan on living there for good, you need to do ample preparation to make sure you can minimize snags that can interfere with your move. Learn basic Mandarin, get all the apps you need on your phone, and get a VPN, among other things. All these can help make the transition from your home country to China as smooth as it should be.

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