Living in China
While the quality of the hospitals in China can vary greatly, all of the Tier 1 and Tier 2 have a major hospital with English speaking doctors and staff. Also, all of our schools we place our teachers in provide health insurance, and many of the basic illnesses and doctor checkups won’t cost you much. For major illnesses, and surgeries, check with your insurance provider to make sure a specific hospital is covered.
Prescription Medication: You can find pharmacy in all towns and major street corners. The pharmacies in China sell almost all of the common Western OTC, like Tylenol and Advil. Make sure to write the medical name of the medicine, rather than the brand. For example, ibuprofen, not Advil.
Generally, a majority of schools in China will not provide a furnished housing for teachers. They will place you at a hotel for 1-3 weeks and will assist you with house hunting. Housing in Tier 1 cities will be around $500-$700 per month for rent, while housing in Tier 2 or Tier 3 will be about $150-$200 per month. In a Tier 1 city, the rent will vary based on how close or how far you are from the city center. Feel free to contact us for any advice in regards to housing.
Internet and Mobile Phones
In order to use your own smartphone in China, make sure your phone is “unlocked”. If you purchased your phone on a monthly plan, most likely your phone is locked to that specified carrier. All you need to do is call your carrier and notify them you are going abroad and need to unlock your phone. They will help you with the process and let you know what you need to do.
Upon arriving in China, your school will assist you with purchasing a sim card for your phone. To get a SIM card in China is simple. All you need is your passport and an unlocked phone. SIM card usually cost 80-200 RMB depending on the phone number. Monthly charge in China is fairly inexpensive compared to many of the western countries. You can get basic data and minutes for about 50-100 RMB per month depending on your usage. Free WIFI is also readily available in most restaurants and cafes.
Also note: it is very easy to top up your mobile account with We Chat, which is the messenger app used in China.
For internet, you can get high-speed DSL for about 150-200 RMB per month depending on the speed. The speed will vary by city and the time of day online. We would advise being patient with streaming videos.
Lastly, in China, many websites are blocked by the Great Fire Wall of China. However, do not worry as with a VPN account for about $4-$8 a month, you can have access to all of your favorite SNS sites.
Banking and Sending Money Home
As soon as you arrive in China, your employer will help you open a Chinese Bank account. Make sure you have a government-issued ID Card or Driver’s License in addition to your passport. Most payments, including payroll, are done through Bank Transfer. The bank will issue you a debit card with a Union Pay Logo. When you get this debit card, make sure it has the Magnetic Strip on the card, rather than just a chip on the card so that you can use this card overseas. With the debit card, you will be able to make purchases in China and also use the ATM for a small online fee, if applicable.
In order to send money home, you will need to go to the bank and convert your Renminbi into your home country currency. You are allowed to exchange up to $500 US per day without the pay stub. However, for anything over $500 US per day, you will need to show your pay stub in order to prove you paid your taxes on money earned.
Overseas Credit Card
If your debit card back home has a visa logo on it, you will be able to withdraw money at some ATMs depending on the hologram logo on the bank of the card. However, please note that in China, many of the non-tourist attractions do not accept Visa/Mastercard. Just in case you will need to access money in your home country account, make sure to have your online banking set up so that you can transfer money from your home country to your bank account in China.
Purchasing House Necessities
In China, we have an online shopping platform called Taobao. Taobao is like the Amazon of China. On Taobao, you can purchase anything you can think of, from bedsheets to Halloween costumes. Although the shopping platform is in China, all you need is a local friend to help you set up your account. Once your account is set up, with a click of a button, the item you want to purchase will be shipped to your door. Worried about not being home at the time of shipment? Do not worry. Almost all the apartment buildings have a pickup box, and your package will be placed inside the pickup box and the code text messaged to your phone. Some of the stuff I personally purchased on Taobao.com- (drip coffee maker 89RMB, rice cooker 229 RMB, toaster oven 219 RMB, dining table w/ 2 chairs 199 RMB, electric water boiler 79 RMB…… plus much more). In addition to Taobao.com, the Tier 1 Cities will have Walmart, Ikea, Carre Four, and also Chinese branded consumer product stores.
Dining in China
In China, you can never leave the house or workplace and still choose from a great variety of food. In China, there is two major Food Ordering Apps; 1) Wai Mai and 2) Eleme. Once you have your work and home address set, you just choose what you want to eat, click order and pay with your We Chat online payment account. Food will be delivered within 30-45 minutes and you never have to leave the house for food again. Want to dine at a restaurant but can’t speak Chinese and the restaurant doesn’t have a picture menu? Just use Baidu Translator to take a photo of the menu and it will translate the Chinese characters for you. You can starve in China if you have no money, but the inability to speak Chinese will not be a barrier to order food. Check out our Post about Some Useful Apps to have in China
Are you in China and still need help with something we didn’t cover here on our FAQ Page? The best way to get information on where to buy, or how to do something in China is to put up a WeChat Moment with your help topic. Once you post a moment on your WeChat, all of your WeChat friends can see it and they will write comments with answers. This is usually the most effective way of asking for info rather than calling different people for help.
What is a WeChat Moment? WeChat is the biggest messenger platform in China, and Moments are like News Feeds on Facebook. In the western countries, you probably already put a status message on your Facebook page with status messages, photos, and possible help for information. In China, WeChat Moments play the same role to that of Newsfeeds on Facebook.
Still cannot get your answer? You can always email us for help at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll reply within 1 business day.