5 Things No One Tells You About Moving to China

China, the fourth largest country in the world and home to 1.3 billion people, is becoming a popular destination for expats and businessmen looking to move somewhere different.  If you’re thinking of moving to China, you’ve probably researched your destination, what sort of visa you need, and so on.  But what about the things they don’t tell you?  Take a look at these lesser-known facts about living in China to better prepare for the ultimate culture shock.


Photo by Severin Stalder

1. You will stand out like a sore thumb.  Unless you have Chinese heritage (and even then the locals will still pick you out for a foreigner), people will notice you from miles away, and you will be met with shocked stares wherever you go.  Especially if you are tall or have blonde hair, dark skin, or are in any way different from the standard Chinese appearance, you will be an object of fascination.  At times, expect mobs of people crowding around to take your picture, and touch your hair or skin out of sheer curiosity.

2. China has a different notion of hygiene from the West.  On one hand, you often see people eating in restaurants wearing latex gloves, or walking around with dust masks covering their mouths.  On the other hand, everywhere you go you will see people spitting and throwing trash in the streets.  Toilets are commonly a hole in the floor that you squat over –but even that’s a bit of a luxury.


3. There are few restrictions on pollution.  Everyone has heard of Beijing’s smog problem, as there are no emissions standards for vehicles.  But even in the other cities, the air quality is so bad that many people develop lung problems during their entire stay.  Most areas don’t have any sort of trash disposal system either; so don’t be surprised to see piles of burning garbage outside of cities.

4. The food is diverse, delicious, and surprisingly healthy.  Forget any preconceptions you have about Chinese food, because your mind will be blown by the real thing.  Depending on where you are, each culture has its own cuisine, from the intensely spicy cooking of the southern provinces to the fresh seafood of the coastal regions.  Vegetables are common ingredients and dairy products and desserts are rarities. You may find yourself losing weight without realizing it!


Photo by Chensiyuan

5.  It is constantly loud.  From car horns to blasting pop music to street vendors screaming at you through microphones, China is a country operating on high volume at all times.  This may be quite stressful for people who need silence every now and then, so you may wish to bring a set of earplugs along for your stay.

Prepare for your move to China by taking Mandarin courses with Language Trainers. English won’t get you far, and you’ll enjoy your stay more should you be able to communicate in the native language.Send us an inquiry to get started, then take our free online language level test to see how good your Mandarin is!