China travel

Published on June 8th, 2012 | by Paz


Should I move to China?

“Should I move to China?” This is a question that I get all the time from families, couples and recent graduates that are figuring out if they should move to China. One of the benefits of living in China is that I get to share everything we have learned about the process. Wow A LOT! This will help you decide if you should move to China or go on a Med Cruises?

This is a personal question that everyone must answer for themselves I try to give them to real issues a family or person will face when relocating to China.

I also have been asked to give presentations for large companies who regularly relocate families to China. I love talking to people about their fears and the realities of making such a move. So here is a post for everyone that doesn’t contact me to see if you should move to China.

Personal Decision you can be the only person that makes the decision for you and your family, so please don’t send me any e-mails about how it wasn’t what you thought.

Real China This is information about really living in China, not those that go on business trips and stay at the Shan grala and eat at 5 star restaurants and then want to talk about living in China. Sorry people you don’t know China, this information that I provide here is based off of living in real China among Chinese people, eating where everyday Chinese people eat and living life in China, not in a hotel. We had to negotiate contracts, work with and among common folk, and doing it on our own with NO relocation team or benefit package to back us up.

What you need to know!

Chinese is difficult! Being a bilingual family we thought picking up Chinese would be easy and that a lot of people would speak English. WRONG! Not many people spoke any English. Of course you have that elite society that does but when you are needing to get taxis buy bus tickets or get around it can be very very very hard to find a person that understands a single word that you are saying and vice versa.

What to do to be ready. We recommend brushing up on your Mandarin skills, buy language books and download apps. But more importantly be PATIENT! Remember that you are there to experience the culture and part of that is the language. If you come thinking that you won’t understand anything and understand something or someone understands you it will make you smile vs. expecting everyone to be able to communicate the countries political system to you on the bus. Here is a link to Mango who we have not used but have friends who have and love it.


China is dirty. I don’t care what people say about how pretty the strip was where their hotel was or how immaculate the hotel was….that is not China. That was your $500.00 a night hotel, plain and simple! Common Sense people….come on.

You will see children pee and poop on the side of the roads, spit and garbage everywhere. Soap and hot water are not normal in any bathroom. Yes that is pollution and acid rain that you see. People are still accustom to throwing their garbage on the side of the street even with garbage cans within reach. Yes, that is pee on the floor in the bathroom.

What to do to be ready. Zeek went to China a germ afoab and has become a changed man. The only thing we can’t get used to is the dog poop on the floor or having to watch where you walk versus looking at the amazing scenery.

What to do to be ready? We actually opted out to using most sinks in general, what is the point of touching something else dirt to run cold water over your hands? 😉 We opted to bring these cool hand-sanitizers from Bath & Body works that connect to any bag, stroller, or purse. Very handy!! We then found hand-sanitizer at foreign stores and refilled the little bottles. Try not to touch anything….that is a good idea. Also remember you are in a country of over 1 billion people, just be happy that it isn’t dirtier. We actually were rarely sick while in China. So even though it is much dirtier than our American home we NEVER got sick.

Recycling is a huge job industry in China. Which is obviously great since there is so much garbage. People will be picking through garbage and sorting it to get the recyclable material or reusable items. They then sell the material to make a living and feed their family. Keeps the landfills a little smaller and food on their table. We found it really eye opening to how wasteful we were.

No personal space for anyone.

Our first week in China we were in a western mall with our youngest (12 months at the time) in a stroller and our 3.5 yr old in tow. We stood at the elevator on the 7th floor waiting to get on. Elevators came and went and they seemed packed to the brim and then one would open and people would rush by us stepping over the stroller to get past us to get in. Our mouths dropped open!! Did you really just step over a stroller to get in-front of us to get in the elevator???? Did that really just happen. Oh yes, and it happened again and again and again. So after waiting for maybe 30 minutes we got mad!! We then just charged the elevator full force. We all got in and surprisingly no one was upset by our pushing method as that was the only way that anyone gets into an elevator. Had we done that in the states people would have gasped and complained. In China it is normal practice. With roughly 20 million people living in our city if you don’t rush the elevator you will never get in.

What to do to be ready? Remember that people are invading your personal space because that is what they are use to. If there were to wait in everything in their life they would never get anywhere. They would just sit waiting for their life. It is a survival of the fittest mentality. They are not targeting you or being mean to you…it actually has nothing to do with you. It is just the way of life. You might be a little pushy too if you had 1 Billion people to worry about.

Amazing Healthy Food. There is really nothing bad that we can say about Chinese food. If you can find tons of vegetables and almost every type of food (Chinese that is) for amazing prices. Our budget for a family of 4 every month is roughly $200.00 USD. Now please keep in mind that we ate only Chinese food and purchased our food from the markets. Some people will say that Chinese food isn’t that healthy because of additives that they put in the food. My only comment about that is in the states there are tons of additives in our food that is perfectly legal. So……who knows. One thing to keep in mind is that some of your comfort food will be harder to find and very expensive.

What to do to be ready? What was hard and expensive for us to get was good milk for our toddler son and cheese. We were worried about calcium because we really didn’t get much in our daily diet. So we had carnation instant breakfast shipped over to us from the states on a bi-monthly basis. We also made a family rule to go to McDonalds once a week. hahaha that might sound funny, but when you are thousands of miles from home sometimes a happy meal really does make you happy. It was a nice family outing.

should I move to China

Adventure! Be ready and prepared for an adventure every minute you walk out your front door. Your day most likely will never go as planned and not for any particular reason, but only because that is just life. However having the right frame of mind works and keeps it interesting versus getting you frustrated. There are so many nooks and alleys that a little stroll down opens up for you. It is great because you get to see how people live and communicate in a culture so far from what you are use to, that you can only learn. If you aren’t interested in changing your ways or trying things out I would strongly suggest to STAY HOME! You will become frustrated and leave anyways, save your money don’t come at all. However if you are looking for a mind opening experience then jump on in.

What to do to be ready? If you aren’t sure if you are ready to be flexible we have a couple of tests you can do in your hometown area to see if you are up for it.

  1. Block out a full day of nothing to do. Tell all your friends and family to not call you and to leave you alone. (Remember you know no one in China)
  2. Go to a new area of town that you aren’t too familiar with.
  3. Ask complete strangers what they would recommend you do that day.
  4. Then do it!

You say, but Paz this is crazy and totally not what I want to do. Remember you are thinking about moving to a completely new part of the world where you will have no friends. You will have to count on complete strangers in a language that you don’t understand to give you advice and information on what to do and where to go.

Don’t you think this might be easy to test out in your own neighborhood. Who knows you might find some cool things to do.

Moving to another country is a hard move, but China is special and there is little information out there so we hope to be a place where you can have your questions answered and give you the information you are looking for.

If you are thinking “Should I move to China?” I hope I have been able to answer some of your questions and assist in your decision.

Let us know if you move to China!



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About the Author

Paz is an avid adventurer in life and food. Traveling across the globe with her family they enjoy cultural immersion and checking out the local eateries.

12 Responses to Should I move to China?

  1. Jo says:

    Thanks so much Paz for posting this! I’m getting excited and extremely nervous about our coming sabbatical in China but I’m hoping all will work out well…one day at a time I guess. Keep in touch!

  2. Sabra Jacobson says:

    I tried to comment before (not sure where it went?) as we are considering a possible move to China and would love to hear about your experiences. Please feel free to contact me by email. Thanks so much!

    • Paz says:


      Hi! So good to hear from you. Sorry if we didn’t connect before. When are you thinking of moving. Are you single, married and or have children? Would love to help out if I can.


  3. Whitney says:

    Amen to all you said in this post. Chinese is such a completely different language from English (and at least for me it’s hard to devote the time it deserves when there’s so much to get out and see.) We’ve been in Guangzhou for 3 months and are still figuring things out. And yes, the elevator thing is crazy. I have had so many Chinese people go out of their way to be so helpful to us, but that elevator situation is every man for himself every time. Knock the old ladies and the babies out of the way. 🙂
    Whitney recently posted..Toddler TimeMy Profile

    • Paz says:

      hahah Whitney you are so right! Amen! Hope you are enjoying your time in Guangzhou especially with a toddler. You will be so surprised at how easy your son will learn Chinese and how long it might take you. The father of our bunch is still struggling to keep up with our 2 yr old. 🙂 Have a great time!!

  4. Jessica Hill says:

    I’m moving to a small town north of Guangzhou in September, and I debated with this question for a while. Thanks for your helpful hints!

  5. Pingback: Expat Arrivals China ExpertInternational Cravings

  6. Tetyana says:

    Hi, Paz, thank you for the website and all the information about China!!!
    We are a couple from Oregon and very much interested in moving to China. Would you be able to help us with more information about job possibilities? Also, why you chose China over South Korea?

    • Paz Chentnik says:


      So glad that you found it valuable. For jobs one of the most reliable sites is They are very good and really nice to work with. We chose China because of the language. I am big into learning the language and thought for our children the Mandarin would be more beneficial in the long run than Korean. I actually have a lot of friends that work in South Korea and love it. The money is great too. You can make decent money in China, but it was the language immersion that lead us towards China versus S. Korea.
      Such a great experience!!

  7. Denise says:

    Do you have an advice on Chidcare services in China?

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    We are a family of four: dad, mom, sister, brother, who decided to leave our job, home, and community to live life in China. After a year abroad we decided to become permanent nomads. We road school our children and try to enjoy every minute.

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