The Pros and Cons of Teaching and Living in China in 2023

Pro-Independence & freedomThe surprising aspect of expat living in China is that, despite what you may have read, you’ll have a lot of freedom. Parents, in particular, find it liberating to be in a culture that doesn’t judge parenting styles. Foreigners might even enjoy not having family and friends around, expecting them to work, parent, and live a certain way. In fact, this is one of the most revered benefits of living in China or anywhere else outside of your home country. You can enjoy the personal independence that’s difficult to experience at home. Con – BureaucracySometimes, your personal and professional lives get buried under a heavy blanket of bureaucratic responsibilities. They certainly will in the first year as an expat living in China. If it’s not one form you need to fill in, it’ll be seven. Pro – Cultural diversityCulture vultures lap up the bizarre strangeness of life in China. Everything about the country is nuts to outsiders (especially Western ones), and discovering every aspect of the local culture is fascinating, entertaining and addictive. You can live in China for years and still feel like you’ve barely scratched the cultural-learning surface. Con – Culture shockMove to China to live and work, and you may find yourself shaking your head in astonishment quite a lot, especially at first. From spitting out chicken bones on the floor of a fancy restaurant to the morning throat-clearing practice, the toddler toilet-training in public, the smoking everywhere, and the yelling at the top of one’s voice to get a waiter’s attention in a restaurant. It certainly takes a while to get used to seeing certain things, but hey: their house, their rules! Add to that the language barrier, and it’s a whole new level of culture shock indeed.Read this hilarious take on 10 things Chinese do that outsiders find crazy. Pro – Friendly localsBut gosh, the Chinese are some of the friendliest people you will meet. Not all and not everywhere (they’re still grumpy a**es in larger cities, as usual), but you’ll meet locals who will teach you all about hospitality, friendliness, and generosity. This is especially true if you travel to more rural regions and start discovering the country’s lesser-known areas and villages. Con – Loneliness & social isolationTravelling to those idyllic rural areas is terrific, but living there can be very isolating. Even a new life started in a big city can be lonely. Until you start mingling with colleagues and neighbours and joining social groups, you will learn the reality of extreme isolation in a city of millions. It’s eerie, but there are plenty of ways to combat loneliness as an expat! Pro – Excellent travel opportunitiesThis particular advantage of living in China is so enticing that it’s among the top 3 reasons to move here to teach. Not only is the country centrally located for travels throughout Asia, but choosing the right region means you can even travel abroad over a long weekend. Super popular destinations are Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, as well as Japan and South Korea. Hong Kong and Taiwan are RIGHT there if you stick to the east, and Tibet and Nepal are just to the west. Con – HomesicknessHomesickness is a natural consequence of all the above pros and cons of living in China, mainly because you won’t be able to go home as often as you might imagine. Especially when you consider the significant travel cost increases in 2023. Multiple international trips in a year are only possible if you’re on a super-high salary. Those high salaries, however, will come with high commitments. You will work hard for top dollars in China, which won’t leave you with a lot of free time to head back home for a visit. This is where those comforting expat social networks become your lifeline, especially (but not solely) if you can meet fellow countrymen and women.

The Pros and Cons of Teaching and Living in China in 2023
  1. Pro-Independence & freedom

The surprising aspect of expat living in China is that, despite what you may have read, you’ll have a lot of freedom. Parents, in particular, find it liberating to be in a culture that doesn’t judge parenting styles. Foreigners might even enjoy not having family and friends around, expecting them to work, parent, and live a certain way. In fact, this is one of the most revered benefits of living in China or anywhere else outside of your home country. You can enjoy the personal independence that’s difficult to experience at home.

  1. Con – Bureaucracy

Sometimes, your personal and professional lives get buried under a heavy blanket of bureaucratic responsibilities. They certainly will in the first year as an expat living in China. If it’s not one form you need to fill in, it’ll be seven.

  1. Pro – Cultural diversity

Culture vultures lap up the bizarre strangeness of life in China. Everything about the country is nuts to outsiders (especially Western ones), and discovering every aspect of the local culture is fascinating, entertaining and addictive. You can live in China for years and still feel like you’ve barely scratched the cultural-learning surface.

  1. Con – Culture shock

Move to China to live and work, and you may find yourself shaking your head in astonishment quite a lot, especially at first. From spitting out chicken bones on the floor of a fancy restaurant to the morning throat-clearing practice, the toddler toilet-training in public, the smoking everywhere, and the yelling at the top of one’s voice to get a waiter’s attention in a restaurant. It certainly takes a while to get used to seeing certain things, but hey: their house, their rules! Add to that the language barrier, and it’s a whole new level of culture shock indeed.

Read this hilarious take on 10 things Chinese do that outsiders find crazy.

  1. Pro – Friendly locals

But gosh, the Chinese are some of the friendliest people you will meet. Not all and not everywhere (they’re still grumpy a**es in larger cities, as usual), but you’ll meet locals who will teach you all about hospitality, friendliness, and generosity. This is especially true if you travel to more rural regions and start discovering the country’s lesser-known areas and villages.

  1. Con – Loneliness & social isolation

Travelling to those idyllic rural areas is terrific, but living there can be very isolating. Even a new life started in a big city can be lonely. Until you start mingling with colleagues and neighbours and joining social groups, you will learn the reality of extreme isolation in a city of millions. It’s eerie, but there are plenty of ways to combat loneliness as an expat!

  1. Pro – Excellent travel opportunities

This particular advantage of living in China is so enticing that it’s among the top 3 reasons to move here to teach. Not only is the country centrally located for travels throughout Asia, but choosing the right region means you can even travel abroad over a long weekend. Super popular destinations are Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, as well as Japan and South Korea. Hong Kong and Taiwan are RIGHT there if you stick to the east, and Tibet and Nepal are just to the west.

  1. Con – Homesickness

Homesickness is a natural consequence of all the above pros and cons of living in China, mainly because you won’t be able to go home as often as you might imagine. Especially when you consider the significant travel cost increases in 2023. Multiple international trips in a year are only possible if you’re on a super-high salary. Those high salaries, however, will come with high commitments. You will work hard for top dollars in China, which won’t leave you with a lot of free time to head back home for a visit. This is where those comforting expat social networks become your lifeline, especially (but not solely) if you can meet fellow countrymen and women.