How is Life in China for Expatriates

As a rising economic superpower, China attracts expatriates seeking a distinct culture and a fulfilling work. How do Middle Kingdom residents live? We'll cover key cities, lifestyle, and employment prospects for expats in China.

Living and Working in the Big Cities

The city an expat in China lives in determines their quality of life. Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou are contemporary cities with plenty of entertainment, foreign food, and other activities. These cities have vibrant nightlife and rich Chinese culture, which attracts many expatriates. Many expats go to China to work in a large city. Expats working for international companies in China may further their careers and enjoy the city's many attractions. These cities are expensive, however. Due to increasing housing and service demand, rental costs are among the highest in the world. Living in major cities is preferable for high-earners or foreigners with hefty corporate packages.

Exploring Chinese Culture and Lifestyle

No matter what city they’re living in, most expats in China are drawn to the country for its unique culture. While there is much to explore in the metropolises, the real beauty of China lies in its countryside towns and rural villages. From the stunning karst landscapes of Guilin to the terracotta warriors inXi’an, China is a country of great history, spectacular landscapes, and fascinating culture. Exploring the smaller cities and villages gives expatriates a chance to experience the Chinese way of life on a more personal level. While many of the cities have adopted more modern lifestyles, they are still steeped in the Chinese traditions and customs. From going to the local markets to trying some delicious regional cuisine, expats in China can gain a real insight into the local culture.

Job Prospects for Expats

China is a highly competitive job market, which can make it difficult for expats to secure employment. It’s not just the language barrier either; a large number of local students and graduates are also drawn to the larger cities, making the market saturated. That said, there are still some great job prospects available for expats in China. Those with specialist degrees in areas such as technology and finance, for example, have an excellent chance of finding professional employment that pays well and offers opportunities for career progression. There are also opportunities for those with less specialist degrees, such as teaching English in China, which provides a great way to explore the local culture, learn more of the language, and still earn a comfortable salary.


Expats in China enjoy a rich culture and job growth. Yet, Beijing and Shanghai are pricey and competitive job markets. Expats may experience China's distinct culture and ancient practices in smaller towns and villages while still enjoying the comforts of metropolitan life in major cities. The experience an expat has in China depends on their choices.

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