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Expatriation to China

Bangkok, Thailand
8 posts
Expatriation to China

Hello to everybody !

I am launching a new thread as I need some advices from you all.

I'm about to relocate to Shanghai, China.

I accepted a position there, and I was hoping that you had any tips, advices, recommendations on what I should expect when I get there in terms of cost of living, housing, visa requirements, cultural differences etc.

Any other information would be highly appreciated too :)

Looking forward to hearing from you soon

Many thanks in advance for your help guys !!!

22 replies to this topic
Sherbrooke, Canada
Level Contributor
46,403 posts
851 reviews
1. Re: Expatriation to China

You should have checked this before accepting the job.

As this forum is about travel, I suggest that you consult some Shanghai expat websites to find information on your very broad question.

Dublin, California
Level Contributor
24,148 posts
49 reviews
2. Re: Expatriation to China

Books have been written on those questions. Your first order of business is to get a Chinese visa, with the assistance of your new employer.

Shanghai, China
9 posts
3. Re: Expatriation to China

Good morning,

I think I can give you information on a few points, living in Shanghai for several years now.

May I ask what sector you work in? it's a rather courageous decision to move to an unknown country, but you made the right choice because Shanghai can offer a lot to expatriates

Shanghai has a much more western culture than other major cities in China, adaptation for foreigners is quite simple. In addition, there is a large majority of foreigners because there are great career opportunities here.

I see you're from Bangkok, so you won't be surprised by the population and the constant traffic here. However, to have been in Bangkok, I can still say that I rarely saw worse than in Bangkok

The cost of living is higher, I won't lie to you but it's not delusional either.

For housing, I can give you some names of neighborhoods that are very nice, then it's up to you to see the distance with your future work. Then I can suggest Xujiahui, Jing an Temple, Huai hai, People Square, Zhongshan Park. I advise you to take a hotel when arriving in Shanghai and to make the tour of the estate agencies thereafter.

When do you plan to leave? Have you ever gone elsewhere to work?

If you have any other questions do not hesitate, if I can help it is with pleasure

Have a nice day

Edited: 11 June 2018, 09:18
Bangkok, Thailand
8 posts
4. Re: Expatriation to China

First of all: thank you for your answer Mattsevebard. As for the other answers, I think a forum is made to get some advices and tips.. that's why I think my question is relevant, unlike what you seem to be thinking.

Anyway, the way you describe the city makes me think I made the right choice ;)

I'll be working as an Accounting Manager for an Australian company. How long have you been there? What kind of job are you doing?

Thank you for the housing areas. I'll check it out. Where do you live, if I may ask?

I think I liked Bangkok's craziness, this is what I like the most in Asian countries lol. As you said, this should not be a problem in Shanghai...

I'm really excited to get there.

I'm don't have a precise idea at the moment about the arrival date... but I think I'll move there at the end of the summer, as I need to start my new job in September.

How did you handle your relocation there? This is something a bit tricky for me, as my company doesn't offer any help with it. Is it an easy process? That will be my first attempt, so a valuable feedback from someone who already handled it would be appreciated ahah ;).

Anyway, Thank you again for your help,

Looking forward to hearing from you soon

Shanghai, China
Level Contributor
10,144 posts
5. Re: Expatriation to China

If you do not have any housing allowance from your company than housing will be your biggest challenge. Rent is rather expensive, particularly in the areas mentioned above. Best to get a real estate agent that is used to deal with expats. Commission will be paid by the landlord.

Ideally you look for an apartment close to a subway station and not too far in the suburbs. This time we decided for an apartment right next to the Shanghai Tower as, in the morning, it is only a 10 - 15 minutes drive to get to my office across the river.

Next is moving your personal belongings. If it is more than just a couple of suitcases you should look for a moving company that is experienced with household moves to China. If you only have a couple of boxes that you will pack yourself you could also ask a regular freight forwarder for a door to door quotation.

As for cost of living, this can be reasonable to extremely expensive depending on your live style. Western goods are generally pretty expensive and easily can seriously dent your budget.

You should get in touch with your company and start the process of getting a Z visa. A pretty lengthy and expensive exercise. Hopefully they will be able to help you with that as else you are in a fair bit of trouble. Start with getting a Police Clearance Certificate / Certificate of Good Conduct as you will need that. In your case you will most likely need one from Thailand and your home country. Also get your highest education paper (diploma / degree) notarized and ask the Chinese embassy in Bangkok what they require to issue a visa to a foreigner living in Bangkok.

Beijing, China
Level Contributor
12,610 posts
6. Re: Expatriation to China

My advice to you is get rid of EVERYTHING you don't need, especially big stuff like furniture, appliances, etc. Most Chinese apartments come furnished anyway, and you can pick up what you need once in China. Moving this sort of stuff is expensive. Even household goods like kitchenware (especially if heavy), you need to consider that it might be cheaper to get rid of what you have now and just pick up replacements in local markets in China, vs paying the cost of shipping. Any valuable stuff including your critical papers, electronics/camera/jewelry, medicines, etc should only travel with you as part of your accompanying luggage. You may find that towards the end, paying for an extra suitcase is more cost effective and less Customs hassle than trying to ship the same.

Assuming you have divested yourself of all big stuff, using a relocation company to help you move personal belongings will be very expensive as well. I don't know anybody who has moved in/out of China on their own, who has used a relo company since their pricing is geared to corporate execs who are getting their move paid for by their organization. I would try to avoid this and do it on your own. You can use the Postal Service for instance. You can bring in personal items duty-free IF you do it on a Z visa/Residence Permit. So don't jump the gun and try to ship anything until you have that visa, or your stuff might not make it through Customs. The visa is one item that your company needs to help you get. Getting all the prerequisite support documents procured and authenticated can be a lengthy (months!) and expensive process, and if the company is not helping you with this cost, that's not cool. I agree with above advice to go to the Chinese Embassy (actually, I think now you have to deal with the Visa Application Service Centre) and get a list of what they need to process the Z. Do it now, as you have less time than you think to jump through the upcoming hoops.

Edited: 13 June 2018, 19:05
Dublin, California
Level Contributor
24,148 posts
49 reviews
7. Re: Expatriation to China

Are you married? Have kids? If so then it's a whole separate set of issues with spousal visa and education for kids. Are you getting an expat package from your employer?

In any event, your first order of business is applying for the visa. Having just helped someone to get a work visa, it's not a simple process. Are you a Thai national or from another country but living in Thailand? If you are from another country, that adds some more layers of bureaucracy to the process.

Shanghai, China
9 posts
8. Re: Expatriation to China

Hello to all

I'm glad to be able to inform you, I don't understand why people react like this.

I live near Zhongshan Park, it's a pretty quiet area, with a very large park ideal for walks with my dog. I live in Shanghai since 4 years

For your move, tried to see with your company, ask them for help because it is quite complicated and it takes a lot of time... You have a lot of things to transport? I remember going through a moving company but I don't remember the name at all.

I can try to find the name but until then the best is to contact you agencies and ask them for a quote in order to get an idea. Many agencies inflate their price so distrusted you and explain your situation to them.

I'll let you know quickly if I find the name of the c

Shanghai, China
Level Contributor
10,144 posts
9. Re: Expatriation to China

OP already stated "How did you handle your relocation there? This is something a bit tricky for me, as my company doesn't offer any help with it. "

Therefore asking the company again will not help.

Edited: 15 June 2018, 12:18
Shanghai, China
Level Contributor
10,144 posts
10. Re: Expatriation to China

Some additional information regarding the application for a Z-Visa. They are based on my own experience in Shanghai from late last year. Note that the whole process can easily take 2 to 3 months.

First your new company need to apply for a "Notification of Foreigner's Work Permit" and an official "Invitation Letter" from the Ministry of Work and Social Security.

For that application the following documents are required by your new company:

Color copy of your passport including any prior Chinese visa (if any). The passport needs to be valid for at least 12 months from the intended date of arrival and have at least two empty pages next to each other.

Your signed CV stating your highest education and your complete employment history by year and month

Your notarized highest education certificate in Original (I didn't like that part at all as I was not comfortable to send my original document for notarization and to China)

Notarized Certificate of good conduct (from the police). In my case I needed one from my country of residence and my home country.

A "Letter of Commitment" where you state "I, Name and Surname, born Date in Place of Birth hereby confirm that I have no criminl record and that my education certificate is genuine and valid. Sincerly, Name and Surname"

8 pcs biometric passport photos (7 in original, 1 in digital format), 3.5 x 4.5 cm, with white background

Health Certificate including HIV test and X-ray of the chest that are not older than 3 months. Ask your company to send you a sample certificate form from China

Once you get the Notification and Invitation you can apply for a Z-Visa at the embassy / visa center in Bangkok.

After your arrival in China you / your company need to apply for your work permit and residence permit.

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