Newbie Guide To China
Ok so you have just accepted an offer to work in China and are wondering, what should I pack, what do I need to take with me?
How much you decide to bring will be dependent on many personal factors such as if you are single or part of a family, if you have a moving allowance and how much it is as well as your personal preferences. I arrived in China with two backpacks of clothes, bedding and a laptop and have not had any major issues looking for anything.
Food in China is very cheap especially if you cook yourself. However nearly anything imported can be quite expensive. Supermarkets often have an imported section and especially in big cities there are many shops specialising in imported goods. My advice is that it is not worth bringing food with you. Perhaps bring some spices or sauces.
Whilst easy to purchase electronic items in China they are rarely cheaper than in your home country. This is because anything foreign-branded that are made for export but manufactured in China must also include an import tax. If there is a problem, you will have to deal with low product support and a lack of instructions in English. The voltage in China is 220, with most outlets having several configurations of plugs - very useful! (my Australian and Thai electronics all work.) At the time of writing this I am thinking about buying a new laptop and debating whether to buy it in the UK where it will be cheaper but more difficult to take back if there is a problem or buy it in China and have to deal with potential software problems, I worry about the quality - Chinese products are known for breaking, but if it breaks I can take it back easily....
Labour is cheap here so if you have a broken laptop or phone and thinking about getting it fixed before you come, if you can wait and it will be a lot cheaper to fix in China.
For most expats a VPN is vital for living in China. I would recommend installing your VPN before you arrive as once you are here they can be blocked making it impossible to download. It is not just facebook and Google that are blocked so I would seriously recommend anyone who intends to use the internet to get a VPN.
Most people in China use wechat so if you are coming here it is a good idea to install it. Whatsapp works fine but not many local people use it. Businesses tend to use QQ instead of e-mails which can also be used as a messaging service. Skype will work, although if you are talking to someone in China, Wechat seems to work better in my experience.
Line is blocked but works sporadically (some people have no problems some people have no access at all) Whatsapp works fine as well as Skype
The level of English in China is very low, so it would be beneficial to learn some Chinese before you arrive, maybe just the basics like numbers can be very handy. Google translate is very useful (if you install it before you arrive, you don't need a vpn to run it)
Clothes are very cheap in China but it can be difficult if you are tall, especially tall and not fat. Shoes again are difficult to find if you have big feet, although most big cities have clothes shops for people who are bigger.
Especially for ladies, when you first arrive here it is a good idea to stock up on personal hygiene products. Due to the language barrier you may find it difficult to get things like period pads etc without a little bit of experience. Also as regards to soaps and shower jell, like most of Asia nearly everything contains some form of whitening.