Everything You Need to Know When Relocating to China in 2024

Exploring the vast expanse of China opens doors to a realm where history intertwines with progress, offering a glimpse into a captivating blend of ancient heritage and contemporary dynamism. From the ancient wonders of the Great Wall to the bustling streets of Shanghai’s futuristic skyline, China beckons with its myriad of experiences and opportunities.

Known as the Middle Kingdom, China boasts a rich tapestry of traditions spanning thousands of years, interwoven with a modern landscape that pulsates with vitality and growth. Each corner of this vast nation tells a story, from the serene landscapes of Guilin to the vibrant markets of Beijing.

As you prepare to make China your new home, Asia Pacific Access Pty. Ltd (APA) stands ready to be your trusted guide, specializing in supporting individuals and corporations navigating the complexities of relocation to China. With over 30 years of experience and a dedicated team of professionals, APA offers personalized services tailored to every client’s needs.

In collaboration with Reloc8 Asia Pacific Group, APA ensures a seamless transition for expatriates and their families, offering a comprehensive range of services including immigration assistance, domestic moves, cross-cultural training, and policy consulting.

Discover the wonders of China with APA by your side, as you embark on a journey to unlock the treasures of this ancient yet dynamic nation. Learn more about our expertise and services at www.apachina.com.


What It’s Like to Live in China

Living in China offers a unique blend of rich history, diverse culture, and modern conveniences. The country’s vast size and varied landscapes offer residents a range of experiences, from bustling metropolises to tranquil countryside. Here’s an overview of what it’s like to live in China:

Convenience: China boasts an abundance of convenience stores and services, offering 24/7 access to essential items and amenities. From snacks and drinks to paying bills and booking tickets, convenience stores are an integral part of daily life in China, catering to locals and expatriates alike.

Affordable cost of living: While the cost of living can vary depending on the city and lifestyle, China generally offers a relatively affordable standard of living compared to many Western countries. From housing to transportation to dining out, residents can enjoy a high quality of life without breaking the bank.

Safety and security: China is known for its relatively low crime rate, which contributes to a sense of security among residents. Public security measures are in place to ensure that people feel safe both day and night.

Food: Chinese cuisine is world-renowned for its variety and flavor. From street food to fine dining, China offers a wide range of culinary delights to explore and enjoy.

Natural beauty: China’s vast and diverse landscapes include majestic mountains, picturesque coastlines, and serene countryside. Residents have ample opportunities for outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and exploring natural wonders.

Language: Mandarin Chinese is the official language of China and is widely spoken throughout the country. English is taught in schools, but proficiency varies. You’ll find more English speakers in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, especially in tourist and expatriate areas. In rural areas, however, English proficiency may be limited.

Healthcare: China has made significant progress in healthcare, with access to quality medical services widely available. The country’s healthcare system continues to improve, providing residents with affordable and comprehensive care.

Transport: China has an extensive and efficient public transport network, including subways, buses, and high-speed trains. Residents can easily navigate cities and travel between regions using these transportation options.

Bike sharing: Bike-sharing systems are popular in China, providing convenient and environmentally friendly transport solutions in urban areas. Users can rent bikes from docking stations in major cities, promoting sustainable mobility. Popular bike-sharing brands in China include Hello Bike, Meituan Bike, Qingju Bike, and MeBike.

Cultural diversity: With 56 recognized groups, China is a melting pot of cultural diversity. Residents have the opportunity to interact with people from different backgrounds, languages, and traditions, fostering a greater appreciation of China’s multicultural society.

Social media and technology: Living in China offers a dynamic digital experience, with thriving social media platforms such as WeChat and Weibo shaping daily interactions and facilitating convenient e-commerce and mobile payment solutions.

Cultural Differences

  1. Language and communication: Mandarin Chinese is the official language of China, and although English is widely taught, levels of proficiency can vary. Learning a few basic Mandarin phrases can greatly facilitate communication and help build relationships with locals.
  2. Face culture: Keeping face, or maintaining one’s reputation and social standing, is crucial in Chinese culture. Avoiding actions that could cause loss of face or embarrassment is important in social and professional interactions.
  3. Guanxi (relationships): Building and maintaining relationships, known as guanxi, is essential to success in China. Networking and cultivating personal connections can open doors and create opportunities in both business and social settings.
  4. Dining Etiquette: Dining plays an important role in Chinese culture, and it is essential to follow proper dining etiquette. This includes waiting for the host to start eating before beginning a meal, using chopsticks correctly, and showing appreciation for the food.
  5. Work culture: Chinese work culture may differ from Western norms, with a strong emphasis on teamwork, harmony, and diligence. Understanding the hierarchical structure of organizations and showing respect for seniority and authority figures is important in the workplace.
  6. Personal space and boundaries: Concepts of personal space and boundaries may differ from Western norms, as Chinese people often stand closer during conversations and may ask personal questions that Westerners might find intrusive. In addition, queuing norms may be different in China, with pushing and shoving often observed in crowded public spaces.
  7. Government regulations: China has its own set of laws, regulations, and bureaucratic procedures that may differ from those in Western countries. Familiarity with local laws and customs is essential to navigate daily life and avoid misunderstandings or legal problems.
  8. Awareness of food allergies: Chinese people may not be familiar with the concept of food allergies or the severity of allergic reactions. Foreigners should communicate any food allergies clearly and take the necessary precautions when eating out or attending social gatherings in China.
  9. Communication during meetings: In meetings in China, people tend to listen and observe rather than actively participate, and they value silence as a sign of respect for the speaker. Hierarchical dynamics influence who speaks so foreigners should adjust their communication style accordingly.

By understanding and respecting these cultural differences, foreigners can adapt more effectively to life in China and build positive relationships with the local community.


The major languages spoken in China are Mandarin Chinese (Putonghua – meaning common language) and various regional dialects, with Mandarin being the official language. Mandarin Chinese is widely used in government, education, and the media, and the basic knowledge of spoken Mandarin is essential for everyday activities such as ordering food, shipping, and navigating, especially in urban areas and among younger generations. Regional dialects are also spoken, particularly in rural areas and among older generations, and while knowledge of these dialects can be useful for local interactions, Mandarin is generally more important for overall communications.

Economy and Job Market

China’s economy is one of the largest in the world and continues to grow steadily. The country actively welcomes foreign investment, and the Ease of Doing Business index has improved over the years, ranking among the best in the world.

Please read the following articles from China Daily, which discuss the latest economic trends for 2023-2024:

China Daily – Economic Trends


China Daily – China’s economic outlook in 2024


In terms of the labor market, China’s hiring activity remains robust despite some fluctuations. Here is an article from China Daily that provides insights into China’s hiring trends for 2024:

China Daily – Hiring Activity



Cost of Living

Living in China can be cheap, especially compared to the US or Europe. The cost of living in China depends on your lifestyle preferences and where you choose to live. Monthly expenditure on rent, food, accommodation, and transport can vary significantly between a modest and a lavish budget. Rent tends to be the largest expense, although this varies depending on the type of accommodation and geographical area.

Renting a one-bedroom apartment in major cities such as Beijing or Shanghai can vary considerably. For example, monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in downtown Beijing can range from around $700 to $1,700, while in Shanghai, prices can range from $800 to $2,100 per month.

For a family of four, the monthly cost of living in China depends on location, lifestyle, and spending habits. An approximate monthly budget covering essentials such as rent, food, transportation, utilities, and other necessities could be in the range of $2,000 to $4,000, depending on the city and desired standard of living.

Similarly, an individual’s monthly expenses will vary based on similar factors. A moderate estimate for monthly expenses, including rent, food, transportation, and basic utilities, could range from $900 to $1,600, depending on location and individual lifestyle preferences.

Useful website: This website provides a detailed list of living costs in China: https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/country_result.jsp?country=China


  1. Family dynamics: The family occupies a central position in Chinese society, emphasizing values such as filial piety and intergenerational support. Multi-generational households are common, fostering close family ties and frequent gatherings, especially on festive occasions.
  2. Work culture: Chinese work culture embodies dedication and perseverance, with many individuals working long hours, including weekends, to achieve career success and financial stability. Respect for authority and adherence to hierarchy are fundamental to the dynamics of the workplace.
  3. Housing: Housing options in China vary by location, from modern high-rise apartments in urban centers to traditional courtyard houses in rural areas. Urbanization has led to a surge in apartment living, especially in large cities where space is limited.
  4. Transport: China has an extensive transport network, with modern highways, high-speed trains, and expanding metro systems in urban centers. Bicycles and electric scooters are popular for short-distance travel, especially in densely populated urban areas.
  5. Food culture: Chinese cuisine is celebrated for its diverse regional flavors and staples such as rice, noodles, and vegetables. Street food markets offer an array of affordable delicacies, while upscale restaurants serve traditional and fusion dishes that reflect the country’s culinary richness.
  6. Social life: Socializing in China revolves around sharing meals with friends and family, as well as activities such as karaoke, tea ceremonies, and outings to parks. Online social networking platforms play an increasingly important role, in facilitating connections in China’s digitally connected society.
  7. Healthcare: China has made significant progress in healthcare, with both public and private facilities offering a wide range of medical services. Urban centers tend to have modern hospitals and clinics, although access to quality healthcare in rural areas may be more limited.
  8. Safety: China is considered a safe country with a relatively low crime rate.
  9. Cultural values: Chinese culture places great emphasis on values such as respect for authority, harmony, and the preservation of “face” or social reputation. Modesty in behavior and appearance is valued, while building meaningful relationships often requires patience and mutual trust.

Healthcare Services

The standard of healthcare services in China varies across different regions and cities. Major urban centers like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou generally have better-equipped hospitals with higher standards of care compared to rural areas. In these cities, foreigners can expect a range of healthcare options, including public hospitals, private clinics, and international hospitals specifically catering to expatriates.

Public hospitals in China can be crowded, with long waiting times, but some may have English-speaking staff and international departments. Private clinics often offer more personalized care, but they can be expensive. International hospitals and clinics typically provide services in multiple languages, have Western-trained doctors, and offer modern medical equipment, though they tend to come with higher costs compared to public options.

Foreigners are advised to have health insurance that covers medical treatment in China to help manage the potentially high costs of healthcare, especially in private facilities. Despite improvements in healthcare infrastructure and services, there may still be disparities in the quality of care across different regions of China. Communication challenges may also arise for foreigners seeking medical treatment, particularly in areas with limited English-speaking staff.

Overall, while healthcare standards have improved in China, foreigners should be aware of the variations in medical practices, infrastructure, and costs, and plan accordingly to ensure a positive medical experience.

Educational System

In China, various international schools are catering to the expatriate community, offering American or European-based curricula. These schools are popular choices for foreign nationals relocating to China with children. Entry to international schools typically requires a child to hold a foreign passport. Due to the limited availability of first-tier international schools in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, parents should select multiple schools and initiate the admission process early.

Students are generally required to hold a foreign passport for admission to international schools. Since these schools often have waiting lists, applying early is recommended. Admission criteria vary among schools, and many offer early childhood education classes for children aged 3 to 4, with kindergarten or lower primary classes starting at age 5, depending on the curriculum followed (e.g., American or British system). Age cutoffs and flexibility in class placement may differ between schools.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) program, a popular international curriculum highly regarded by universities, is offered in several international schools in China for students in their upper years. Parents should inquire about the availability of IB programs and their suitability for their child’s educational path.

Public schools in China primarily serve children with Mandarin Chinese as their native language, which may pose challenges for foreign national children without Mandarin support at home. Homeschooling is an option, and enrollment in public schools typically requires residency in the same jurisdictional district.

Bilingual schools are also available in China, offering an alternative education option for parents who wish for their child to become proficient in Mandarin Chinese while living in the country. These schools focus on both writing and speaking proficiency in Mandarin Chinese alongside the standard curriculum.


Legal Considerations When Moving to China

One of the legal considerations when moving to China is obtaining the necessary visa for an extended stay. If you are planning to stay in China for more than a certain period, usually 90 days, you will need to apply for an appropriate visa. The type of visa you need depends on the purpose of your stay, such as work, study, or family reunification. Once you have obtained the appropriate visa, you may also need to apply for a residence permit, which allows you to stay in the country for a longer period. Residence permits are administered by the relevant immigration authorities and can vary in length, usually between one and five years. It is important to comply with visa and residence permit requirements to ensure legal compliance during your time in China.

Process of Acquiring Work Visas for Professionals and Their Families

Basic Requirements for a China Work (Z) Visa

To qualify for a work visa in China, the applicant must meet the following basic requirements:

  • Be over 18 years of age;
  • Be in good health and have no communicable diseases;
  • Have the relevant skills and at least 2 years of experience for the position;
  • Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification relevant to the job;
  • Have a valid passport and other necessary travel documents;
  • Have a clean criminal record; and
  • Have a valid job offer from a company in China.

Getting a work visa: Steps to apply from your home country

  • Gather the necessary documents;
  • Apply online for a Work Permit Notification Letter (WPNL);
  • Apply for a China work Z visa at a local Chinese embassy or consulate;
  • Obtain permission to enter China;
  • Temporarily register with the police;
  • Obtain a medical certificate;
  • Apply for a residence permit (once in China); and
  • Apply for a work permit.

See the following application steps and estimated timelines for the work and residence permits:

Before arrival:

  • Step 1: Apply for a Work Permit Notification Letter (WPNL) application from China;

Approximately 15 – 20 working days for issuance after the application. The employment contract or international assignment letter cannot be effective during this step.

  • Step 2: After WPNL is issued, then apply for an entry Z visa at the Chinese overseas embassy/consulate. It will take about 5-6 working days for issuance depending on the embassy.

After arrival:

  • Step 3: Apply for a Temporary Residence Registration form (TRRF) within 24 hours of final arrival in China. This form is usually obtained from the applicant’s temporary accommodation, hotel, or serviced apartment. The Z visa is valid for 30 days from the date of entry.
  • Step 4: Medical Examination – approximately 5 working days to receive the medical report;
  • Step 5: Work Permit (WP) application by the applicant after issuance of the medical check report. Approximately 10 – 15 working days for issuance after the application is submitted. The work contract must be in effect during this step or the application must be submitted one week before the start date of the contract;
  • Step 6: Finally, apply for a Residence Permit (RP) for the applicant after the WP is ready. 8 working days for issuance after the application is submitted. The applicant and the spouse must appear in person at the immigration office for the application, and the passports will be retained during the 8 working day processing period. No overseas travel is possible during this period, but only domestic travel.

The following are some critical points to consider during the application process:

  • The foreigner can officially start working in China only after the China Work Permit and Residence Permit have been issued;
  • The accompanying family does not have to go through the entire process, but the spouse must also undergo the medical examination and then apply for the Dependent Residence Permit once the assignee has received his or her work permit;
  • The Z visa application must be submitted to a Chinese embassy or consulate abroad and cannot be submitted within China. In some cases, the application can be processed in other countries if the assignee/accompanying family has a local residence permit/visa;
  • The Z visa is a single-entry visa and allows the assignee to complete the work and residence permit applications within 30 days of arrival in China. Therefore, once the assignee arrives in China on a Z visa, he/she cannot travel internationally until the residence permit is obtained;
  • Normally, the accompanying family must apply for an S1 visa to enter China for the purpose of applying for a dependent residence permit. If the family is entering China on a tourist or other type of visa, the relationship certificates (e.g., marriage certificate, child’s birth certificate) must be legalized by the Chinese embassy/consulate in the home country or certified by the home country’s embassy/consulate in China (if applicable);
  • Cohabitation certificates or partnership certificates instead of marriage certificates are NOT allowed for a dependent residence permit in China;
  • For the residence permit, the assignee, spouse, and children over 16 years of age must be interviewed in person.
  • If your children are over 18, they cannot apply for a Dependent Residence Permit in China. In these cases, alternative visa options must be discussed;
  • If the marriage or birth certificate is not in English or Chinese, it will need to be translated into Chinese by a professional translation company and stamped directly in China.

Processes for Setting Up a New Business or a Branch of an Existing Company

The Chinese government actively encourages foreign investment and facilitates the establishment of new businesses or branches of existing companies in the country. With its rapidly growing economy and vast market opportunities, China attracts businesses from various sectors seeking to expand their operations. There are three recognized types of business organizations in China open to foreign companies: Joint Venture (JV), Wholly Foreign-owned Enterprise (WFOE), and Representative Office.

Joint Venture (JV)

A joint venture (JV) is a business arrangement in which two partners, one Chinese and one foreign, work together to establish a new business entity. This partnership involves equal responsibility for management, expenses, profits, and losses. JVs are particularly important in sectors where certain business activities are still regulated by the government, such as construction, automobile manufacturing, and cosmetics. From 2021, there is no limit on the percentage of ownership of each party involved in the JV. This flexibility allows JVs to operate in more restrictive and sensitive business sectors within China, providing foreign companies with opportunities for market entry and expansion.

Wholly Foreign-owned Enterprise (WFOE)

The WFOE is a business arrangement where a foreign company invests on its own without a Chinese partner. Earlier on, the WFOE format was predominantly used for service providers such as consulting and management services, software development, and trading. Increasingly, more manufacturing enterprises are now also using the WFOE route to establish a presence in China. WFOEs are the most popular business structure for foreign companies entering China and allow foreign companies to establish a presence in the country without the need for a local partner. WFOEs are limited liability companies that are 100% owned by foreign investors (individuals or companies) and can engage in a wide range of business activities, earn profits, invoice customers, and hire local and foreign employees in China. Setting up a WFOE takes 2 to 3 months.

Representative Office

Representative offices (often abbreviated as rep office or RO) are set up by foreign companies to facilitate activities such as business liaison, product promotion, market research, and technology transfer in China. However, these offices are restricted from directly engaging in operational activities or handling invoicing or payments. Instead, ROs are suitable for non-profit activities such as on-site customer support for existing customers, field research, and marketing. Despite these limitations, setting up an RO remains the simplest and quickest way for foreign companies to establish a presence and operate in China. This streamlined approach is particularly attractive in a country where setting up a new business can be expensive and time-consuming. While some companies may find the RO structure sufficient for their operations, others may opt for a full WFOE structure if greater autonomy and profit-making opportunities are required.

See an overview of the process for setting up a new business and a branch in China:

Step 1: Company Name Registration

The first step is to request a company name search and reservation with the relevant authorities in China. The proposed company name must comply with Chinese regulations and be in Chinese characters. Applications for name reservations can be submitted online or through designated offices.

Step 2: Approval for Foreign Investment

After securing the company name approval, the next step is to obtain approval for foreign investment from the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) or its local counterparts. Foreign investors must submit required documents, including a business plan detailing the proposed activities, financial projections, and source of funds. The processing time varies but typically ranges from several weeks to a few months.

Step 3: Preparatory Bank Account Opening and Capital Injection

Foreign investors need to open a preparatory bank account with a local bank in China and inject the required capital into the account. Factors to consider when choosing a bank include account opening requirements, transaction fees, and availability of English e-banking services. The capital must be remitted from overseas in foreign currency and undergo examination by a local certified public accountant (CPA) before submission to authorities.

Step 4: Business Registration

Following the capital injection, the business registration process involves filing registration documents with the local Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC) or its equivalent. Upon approval, the company or branch is officially registered, and a registration certificate is issued. The processing time typically takes a few weeks.

Step 5: Tax Registration

After business registration, companies need to apply for tax registration with the local tax authorities. This involves submitting relevant documents and attending a tax interview. Once approved, the company receives a tax registration certificate and can fulfill its tax obligations in China.

Step 6: Transfer to Official Bank Account

The final step is to transfer funds from the preparatory bank account to the official company bank account. Additional documentation may be required for anti-money laundering and know-your-customer purposes. Once the official account is established, the company can commence its business activities in China.

Requirements for Permanent Residency or Citizenship

Permanent Residency in China

To obtain permanent residency in China, also known as a Chinese “green card”, certain criteria must be met, including:

  • Length of Residence: Applicants must have legally resided in China for a certain number of years, usually at least five years continuously.
  • No Criminal Record or History of Bad Behavior: Applicants must demonstrate good moral character and compliance with local laws and regulations.
  • Financial Stability: Although not explicitly stated, applicants may be required to demonstrate financial stability or contribution to the Chinese economy.
  • Language Proficiency: Proficiency in the Chinese language may be required, although specific language requirements are not always specified.
  • Special Circumstances: Certain categories of applicants, such as those with exceptional talents, significant investments in China, or family ties to Chinese citizens, may have different or more lenient requirements for permanent residence.

Citizenship in China

Citizenship in China typically involves several routes, including:

  • Citizenship by Birth: Individuals born in China to at least one Chinese citizen parent are eligible for Chinese citizenship.
  • Citizenship by Descent: Individuals with Chinese ancestry, even if born outside of China, may be eligible for Chinese citizenship.
  • Citizenship by Marriage: Foreigners married to Chinese citizens may apply for Chinese citizenship after meeting certain residency requirements, which may vary depending on local regulations.
  • Naturalization: Foreigners who have legally resided in China for a certain period, usually several years, and who meet other criteria such as good conduct, proficiency in the Chinese language, and financial stability, may be eligible to apply for Chinese citizenship by naturalization.

Please note that China does not recognize dual citizenship. China’s Nationality Law stipulates that a person who is a Chinese citizen cannot hold foreign citizenship at the same time. Therefore, if a person acquires Chinese citizenship through naturalization, they are generally required to renounce any other citizenship they hold.


Work Culture

Working with the Chinese means understanding their emphasis on hierarchy, harmony, and hard work. Respect for seniority is crucial, as is building and maintaining relationships, known as “guanxi”, which are essential for success in both professional and social settings.

Chinese culture values harmony and avoids confrontation, emphasizing the importance of “saving face”. It is important to handle disagreements tactfully and seek compromise to maintain harmony. Direct speech can be seen as rude, so indirect and sensitive communication is advisable.

In the workplace, Chinese often display a strong work ethic, working long hours and showing loyalty to their employer. Modesty is common, with professionals sometimes downplaying their expertise, especially in group settings.

Seniority is highly respected, and instructions from senior team members are usually followed without questions. Making suggestions to superiors should be done with care to avoid appearing disrespectful or arrogant.

Business Customs

Business people in China are often known for their meticulous negotiating skills and may use persistence to secure favorable terms. It is important to show patience to avoid rushing into negotiations. When dealing with Chinese companies, it is advantageous to identify individuals with executive decision-making authority, as decision-makers can greatly facilitate the process. Chinese business culture values personal connections and relationships, which are seen as critical to success. Establishing a personal relationship with Chinese counterparts is often a prerequisite for effective business dealings. Chinese people may express their ideas openly but tend not to reject them outright. Instead, responses such as “we will try” or “I understand” may indicate varying levels of agreement or understanding.

Typical Workday and Work Week

In China, the standard working week is usually five days, from Monday to Friday, in line with international norms. Working hours are generally between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm, although there are variations across industries and companies. In fact, recent trends have seen the emergence of hybrid working arrangements, largely influenced by the pandemic and subsequent restrictions. This model, which offers a mix of remote work and in-office presence, has become increasingly prevalent in our work culture and has continued even after the restrictions have been limited.

Hybrid work arrangements in China vary depending on factors such as industry norms, the nature of the job, and company policies. Some organizations have introduced fixed office days for essential meetings or employee induction, while others have adopted split teams or staggered schedules to optimize productivity and accommodate safety measures.

Normal working hours in China typically range from 40 to 44 hours per week, with variations depending on industry and company practices. While a one-hour lunch break is common, overtime eligibility varies by occupation and management level. In addition, there are several public holidays throughout the year in China, and annual leave entitlement typically increases with years of service, starting at 7 days in the first year of employment.

Tips for Making Good Business Relationships

Establish trust: Trust is essential in Chinese business culture. Invest time in building personal relationships before discussing business. Show genuine interest in your Chinese counterparts and their culture.

Respect hierarchy: Chinese society values hierarchy and authority. Respect seniority and decision-makers within organizations. Address people by their title and surname unless invited to use their first name.

Face-to-face meetings: Face-to-face interaction is highly valued in China. Whenever possible, schedule meetings in person rather than relying solely on electronic communication. This helps to build rapport and trust.

Networking: Networking is essential to business success in China. Attend industry events, trade shows, and social gatherings to expand your network. Use introductions from mutual contacts to establish credibility.

Entertainment: Business entertainment is important in China. Choose appropriate venues and host well to enhance your business relationships.

Patience and persistence: Business negotiations in China can be lengthy and require patience. Be prepared for several rounds of discussion and negotiation. Avoid rushing into decisions as this can be perceived as disrespectful.

Gift giving: Gift giving is common in Chinese business culture and can help build relationships. Choose gifts that reflect your company’s values and avoid items that are overly extravagant or inappropriate.

Communication style: Chinese communication tends to be indirect and subtle. Pay attention to non-verbal cues such as facial expressions and body language. Be diplomatic in your speech and avoid confrontational or aggressive behavior.

Understand guanxi: Guanxi, or personal connections, play an important role in Chinese business. Cultivate strong relationships with key people who can help facilitate business opportunities and navigate bureaucracy.

Political sensitivity: Exercise caution when discussing sensitive political issues, such as Taiwan-China relations, unless you are familiar with your counterpart’s views. Be respectful and diplomatic to avoid potential misunderstandings or conflicts.

Business Talk: Avoid discussing business during dinner unless your hosts initiate the topic. Focus on building rapport and socializing first.

Follow-up: After meetings or negotiations, follow up promptly with your Chinese counterparts.


Commonly Available Accommodation

In China, a variety of rental accommodation options are commonly available to cater to different preferences and budgets, especially for expatriates on work assignments. Some of the most common types of rental accommodation include:

  • Apartments: These are common in urban areas and come in various sizes, from compact studios to larger multi-bedroom units. Apartments include both non-serviced and serviced units. Non-serviced apartments, similar to condominiums (condos), are residential units within a larger building complex where individual units are owned by different owners. These units can be rented out by individual owners and often come with shared facilities such as swimming pools, gyms, and communal spaces. On the other hand, similar to hotels, serviced apartments offer fully furnished units with amenities such as housekeeping, utilities, internet, and sometimes even additional services like gym access and concierge. They are popular among expatriates on short-term or long-term work assignments.
  • Houses and Townhouses: Standalone houses or townhouses are available for rent in both urban and suburban areas. These properties offer more space and privacy compared to apartments or condos and are suitable for families or those seeking a quieter living environment.
  • Villas: Luxury villas, often located in gated communities or upscale neighborhoods, offer spacious living quarters with private amenities such as gardens, swimming pools, and security services. They are typically rented by affluent individuals or expatriates seeking a high standard of living during their work assignment in China.

Housing Prices Across Different Regions

Housing prices in China vary widely from region to region. Large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen have the highest prices due to high demand and attractive amenities. Prices are lower in smaller cities but vary due to local factors. Rural areas offer the most affordable housing, but their range of amenities cannot compare to big cities.

Beijing Housing Rental Price Range (furnished apartments)

Exchange rate: 1CNY=0.138US$

 Low-end Range (CNY)Mid-end Range (CNY)High-end Range (CNY)
3bedroom 28,000-36,00034,000-56,00056,000-90,000

Shanghai Housing Rental Price Range (furnished apartments)

Exchange rate: 1CNY=0.138US$

 Low-end Range (CNY)Mid-end Range (CNY)High-end Range (CNY)
3bedroom 20,000-26,00028,000-41,00045,000-70,000

In Suzhou (2nd-tier city), a one-bedroom apartment with a gross size of 55sqm-116sqm would range from approximately 5,000CNY-11,000CNY (690US$-1,518US$; exchange rate: 1CNY=0.138US$) in privately owned apartments. While in serviced apartments, it would range from approximately 12,000CNY-21,000CNY (1,656US$-2,898US$; exchange rate: 1CNY=0.138US$) with gross sizes ranging from 65sqm-92sqm.

In Chongqing (2nd-tier city), a one-bedroom apartment would range from approximately 5,000CNY-9,000CNY (690US$-1,242US$; exchange rate: 1CNY=0.138US$) in privately owned apartments, while in serviced apartments, it would range from approximately 12,000CNY-25,000CNY (1,656US$-3,450US$; exchange rate: 1CNY=0.138US$).

The details of what is included in the rent can vary considerably depending on the type of apartment and the agreement with the landlord. Private landlords often do not include internet and utility charges in the rental price. However, serviced apartments tend to offer more comprehensive packages that include various amenities such as taxes, management fees, housekeeping services, internet, and even gym memberships. However, the inclusion of utilities may vary depending on the landlord’s terms and conditions and the lease agreement.

Key Considerations When Searching for Housing

  • Rental budget: generally, this is set in your relocation package.
  • Size: How many bedrooms do you require? Think of your minimum requirements and factors, such as room for more children, guests, drum kits, bicycles, etc. Do you need outdoor space, such as a yard or balcony? Does it need to be private?
  • Location: Think of how long you would be prepared to commute to work, school, etc. Do you want to be in the city, close to bars, shops, and restaurants, or are you looking for a quiet suburb?
  • Amenities: What facilities do you require on hand? Do you need sports facilities, such as a gym, swimming pool, and tennis courts? Do you want the convenience of a clubhouse with shops, restaurants, social areas, etc.?
  • Accessibility to Public Transport: Is accessibility to public transportation, such as bus stops or subway stations, important to you for convenient commuting and mobility within the city?

Process of Purchasing a Property

Purchasing property in China as a foreigner involves special rules and procedures. Here’s an overview of the process:

  • Eligibility check: Foreigners wishing to buy property in China must first check that they are eligible to do so. Regulations vary depending on factors such as residency status, the purpose of the purchase (e.g., residential or commercial), and local government policies. Specific requirements and restrictions can vary between different provinces and cities in China. For instance, in Shanghai, non-Shanghai hukou families (including foreigners in China) are typically required to provide proof of income tax or social insurance to the local government. If you’re a foreigner in China looking to buy a house, you may be required to provide tax receipts for at least 12 out of the past 24 months to the local authorities. Additionally, being married might be a prerequisite for property purchase in this city. On the other hand, in Beijing, the process for foreigners in China is somewhat different. As a foreigner in Beijing, you may need to have a minimum of 5 years’ worth of paid social security and tax contributions before the government allows you to buy a house.
  • Use an estate agent or lawyer: Working with a reputable estate agent or lawyer who is familiar with the local property market and regulations is highly recommended. They can provide guidance on legal requirements, property options, and the buying process.
  • Research and property selection: Conduct thorough research into the property market, considering factors such as location, property type, amenities, and budget. Visit properties of interest and assess their suitability.
  • Due Diligence: Conducting due diligence on the selected property, including verifying ownership, checking title deeds, verifying permits and licenses, and assessing any potential legal or financial issues.
  • Negotiation and Offer: Negotiate the purchase price and terms with the seller or their representative. Make an offer and be prepared for possible counteroffers.
  • Purchase Agreement: Once the terms have been agreed, a purchase agreement (or ‘bill of sale’) is drawn up, setting out the terms of the sale, including the purchase price, payment schedule, and other relevant details.
  • Deposit: You pay a deposit to secure the property. The amount of the deposit varies, usually around 20-30% of the purchase price.
  • Permission and registration: Foreigners must obtain approval from the local Foreign Office to purchase property in China. This approval process is essential to ensure compliance with regulations governing property ownership by foreigners. Once approved, the property transaction is registered with the local real estate authority.
  • Financing and funds transfer: If necessary, arrange financing and transfer funds for the property purchase. While arranging financing and transferring funds are important aspects of the property purchase process, it’s worth mentioning that obtaining financing as a foreigner in China can be challenging. Foreigners may face restrictions or higher interest rates when seeking mortgage loans from Chinese banks.


Main Forms of Transportation

The main forms of transportation in China include subway systems, high-speed trains, buses, taxis, and ride-sharing services such as DiDi (the Uber of China). Subway and high-speed rail systems are known for their efficiency and reliability, especially for intercity and urban travel. Some cities in China have reduced or phased out traditional bus services in favor of metro systems. However, buses remain important, especially in smaller cities and rural areas where other options may not be as accessible. Taxis offer convenient door-to-door service, although reliability can be affected by factors such as traffic congestion. Ride-sharing services such as DiDi are popular and are often considered more reliable than traditional taxis due to their technology-driven approach, including features such as GPS tracking and electronic payment systems.

Internet and Mobile Connectivity

In China, internet and mobile connectivity are generally advanced, with widespread coverage and high-speed broadband and 5G networks. However, access can vary depending on location. Rural areas have less reliable connectivity than urban areas, where infrastructure tends to be more developed.

Best Cities or Regions for Commuting to Work

Some of the best cities or regions for commuting to work in China are:

  • Beijing: As the capital and one of China’s largest cities, Beijing offers extensive public transportation options, including a highly efficient subway system and well-developed bus services. Residents of Beijing typically have access to convenient commuting options within the city.
  • Shanghai: One of China’s largest and most populous cities in terms of population and urban area, and a global financial center, Shanghai boasts a sophisticated transport infrastructure with a modern metro system and extensive bus network. Residents enjoy convenient commuting options within the city, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free commute.
  • Guangzhou: A major economic and transportation hub in southern China, Guangzhou offers a well-connected metro system and efficient bus services for commuters. Residents benefit from reliable public transport, making it easy to get to and from work.
  • Shenzhen: Located next to Hong Kong, Shenzhen is known for its rapid economic development and innovation-driven industries. The city boasts an extensive metro network and efficient bus services, providing residents with convenient options for their daily commute.
  • Chengdu: A cultural and economic center in southwest China, Chengdu offers a growing public transportation system, including buses and an expanding metro network. Residents enjoy convenient commuting options within the city, ensuring a smooth journey to work.
  • Hangzhou: Renowned for its picturesque scenery and historic landmarks. Hangzhou offers a modern metro system and efficient bus services, providing residents with convenient commuting options for their daily commute to work.

Accessibility to Main Business Hubs

China’s major business centers are well-connected and easily accessible. Cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzen offer modern transport options such as subways and buses, as well as efficient airports and high-speed trains for intercity travel. This connectivity facilitates business operations and promotes growth opportunities in these urban centers.



Attitudes towards foreigners in China vary depending on factors such as location, cultural background, and personal experience. Large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou tend to have more exposure to foreigners, greater cultural diversity, and better English skills among locals, making it easier for foreigners to fit in. These cities also offer a variety of amenities, international schools, and expat communities that help with integration.

On the other hand, smaller towns and rural areas may have less exposure to foreigners and fewer resources for expats. Language barriers and cultural differences can also make integration difficult, especially for those unfamiliar with Mandarin or Chinese customs.

While China can be welcoming to foreigners, integration into Chinese society often requires effort, patience, and a willingness to adapt. Building relationships with locals, learning the language, and embracing the local culture can all enhance the integration experience. In addition, joining expatriate communities, participating in cultural exchange programs, and getting involved in local events can further facilitate integration and help foreigners feel more at home in China.

Communities or Groups for Expats

There are established communities and groups for expats in China, especially in the major cities. These communities provide a valuable support network for expats living and working in the country, offering opportunities for socializing, networking, and sharing useful information. Some common types of expat communities and groups in China include:

  • Expat associations: Many cities in China have expat associations or clubs that organize social events, cultural activities, and networking opportunities for expats. These associations may cater to specific nationalities or be more inclusive, welcoming expats from all backgrounds.
  • Online forums and social media groups: There are numerous online forums and social media groups dedicated to expat life in China, where members can ask questions, seek advice, and connect with other expats. Platforms such as WeChat, Facebook, and expat-focused websites host discussions, events, and classifieds relevant to the expat community.
  • Language exchange groups: Popular with expats and locals alike, language exchange groups provide an opportunity to practice language skills, learn about Chinese culture, and make new friends. These groups often meet regularly for language exchange sessions, cultural events, and social gatherings.
  • Professional networks: Expats working in specific industries or sectors can also join professional networks or associations relevant to their field. These networks provide opportunities for career development, knowledge sharing, and professional networking within the expat community and with local professionals.
  • International schools and parent groups: Families with children attending international schools in China often form communities and parent support groups to share information, resources, and socialize. These groups may organize play dates, family outings, and educational events for parents and children.

Expat communities and groups play an important role in supporting expatriates during their time in China by providing social connections, practical advice, and a sense of belonging in a foreign country.

Socializing and Networking

Expats in China have many opportunities to socialize and network. You can attend expat events, language exchange groups, and professional networking events to meet new people and expand your contacts. In addition, expat clubs, associations, and online forums provide platforms for connecting with others and sharing experiences. Cultural events and festivals also provide opportunities to immerse yourself in Chinese culture and get involved with the local community. Overall, expats in China have a wide range of opportunities to build friendships, professional relationships, and a supportive social network during their time in the country.

Participation in Local Activities and Community Events

To get involved in local activities or community events in China, explore online platforms such as social media and expat forums to find out about upcoming events. Visit local community centers and cultural events to learn about meetings and workshops. Join language exchange groups, volunteer organizations, and expat networks to take part in social activities and cultural outings. Attend local festivals, markets, and celebrations to immerse yourself in Chinese culture and interact with locals. By becoming actively involved in the community, you can expand your social circle, learn about Chinese customs, and enhance your overall experience in China.



China has established frameworks and agencies to respond to various emergencies, including natural disasters, health crises, and security incidents. The country’s emergency response system includes agencies such as the Ministry of Emergency Management and specialized departments such as the China Earthquake Administration and the China Meteorological Administration. During emergencies such as earthquakes, floods, or health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, China mobilizes its resources and coordinates efforts to provide assistance and maintain public order. Ongoing training, public awareness campaigns, and resource allocation are essential to improving China’s emergency preparedness and response capabilities. Individuals are encouraged to stay informed through official government sources or emergency management agencies for the latest information.

Steps to Follow in Case of a Medical Emergency

  • For medical emergencies, dial 120 to request an ambulance, China’s emergency number.
  • Most major hospitals in China have 24/7 emergency departments equipped to handle a variety of medical crises.
  • English-speaking medical staff are often available in urban hospitals, although availability may vary in smaller cities or rural areas.
  • When seeking medical care, take identification, medical insurance details, and relevant documents with you, as China’s healthcare system continues to improve with well-equipped facilities in major cities.

Natural Disasters

China is vulnerable to various natural disasters, including earthquakes, floods, typhoons, droughts, landslides, and tropical storms. The government has implemented disaster preparedness measures, including early warning systems, emergency response plans, and infrastructure development, to mitigate the impact of these disasters. However, China’s sheer size and diverse geography present unique challenges to disaster management. Despite efforts to improve preparedness, the frequency and severity of natural disasters can still overwhelm response efforts, particularly in remote or rural areas.

To be prepared for natural disasters in China, individuals and communities should be informed about local risks, have emergency plans in place, and participate in community preparedness initiatives. This includes maintaining emergency supplies such as food, water, first aid kits, and essential medicines, as well as knowing evacuation routes and safe shelter locations. In addition, individuals should heed government warnings and advisories, cooperate with authorities during evacuation procedures, and support efforts to strengthen resilience and disaster response capabilities at the local and national levels.

Support in Emergency Situations

In China, expatriates are supported by local authorities and their home country’s embassy or consulate in the event of an emergency. Local authorities, including police, fire, and medical services, provide immediate assistance through emergency contact numbers, ensure public safety, and provide access to hospitals and shelters during natural disasters or security incidents. Similarly, the expatriate’s embassy or consulate provides consular services, such as legal advice and assistance with lost documents, as well as providing emergency assistance and facilitating communication with family members. Registering with the embassy and keeping abreast of its services and emergency procedures are essential for expatriates to the help they need in the event of unexpected events in China.


Reloc8 Asia Pacific Group

Reloc8 consists of key partners located in 12 countries across the Asia Pacific region. Together, we offer employee mobility services to clients seeking assistance in 23 locations throughout Asia, including Australia, China, China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. In addition to these, we extend our services to the following destinations: Fiji, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, The Solomons. The Maldives, and Guam. Our members represent the premier destination and immigration service providers in the Asia Pacific region. Each partner maintains their unique style and cultural identity, contributing to the Alliance’s diverse and multicultural atmosphere. However, they all share a collective commitment to upholding the highest standards of ethics, integrity, and service excellence.

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