What to Pack for China – The Bare Necessities
Many of the items mentioned below might be available in China, however, they can be quite expensive especially if you want a particular brand. Moving to China can be a rather daunting task and we hope that this will help you to be more prepared for your new adventure.
Body soap, toothpaste, deodorant, lotion, and hair care products. Depending on the texture of your hair, it may also be wise to bring your own comb and brush.
Gentlemen, clippers are quite hard to come by in China, but yours may not work properly even with a converter. Be prepared to either look a little different during in China or to spend a pretty penny on clippers, possibly from Hong Kong.
Ladies, it is wise to bring your own feminine products as options are limited. I stocked up on sanitary napkins as much as I possibly could in the States, but once my supply ran out, I ordered the closest brand I could find from an online store. While it was worth it, it became quite expensive. I was able to get another supply when my mother came to visit. I wasn’t looking for them, but from what I was told, tampons are virtually non-existent, so bring your own. Because your body will take time to adjust to the new climate, new water, etc. also bring feminine hygiene products for infections, bacteria, etc.
A voltage converter is a DEFINITE necessity. Most laptops have a converter attached to their power cord, but for blow dryers etc. you will definitely need one. Speaking of phones, make sure your is phone unlocked before you arrive so that you can purchase a Chinese SIM card; Chinese providers are much cheaper than American ones, even if they do provide service overseas.
Make Sure your Phone is Unlocked before arriving in China
Because of restrictions, you probably should invest in a VPN before arriving as well. The VPN will allow you to access social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc…), and any Google-powered system, etc.
If you can get your family and friends from home to download an app called WeChat, GREAT! WeChat is the premier messaging app used in China for communication: free phone calls, messaging, etc. You can also transfer money between friends as well as between accounts. Finally, WeChat allows you to pay bills: rent, phone, utilities, etc. If your friends and family from home aren’t ready for WeChat, you can also use Skype.
Your passport is CRITICAL while in China.
You need it, along with your visa in order to register with the local police, who will periodically check your apartment to make sure no additional residents are living there. You will also need a driver’s license or official ID to open your Chinese bank account. Some of the Chinese banks have relationships with banks in other countries. If possible, try to open an account with one of those banks to save money on bank fees.
This can be tricky. What clothes you pack is definitely dependent on which region of China you are moving to and when. Northern China (ex… Beijing) is frigid in the winter, whereas Southern China (ex… Shenzhen) is subtropical all year round. The way to know what’s best is to research the specific region you are moving to.
However, I can offer a few general tips. Ladies and gentlemen, it is CRITICAL to remember that while not all Chinese people are small, the clothes are.
If you are taller or wider than average in your home country, be prepared for difficulty online shopping in China. More than likely, you will rely on online shopping for clothes AND shoes. For the ladies, I love shoes, but I found myself in flats more than not. The few platforms I did purchase were not as comfortable as I’d like, but still worth the purchase at the time.
While you want to have enough clothes for different occasions, don’t over-do it. It is quite reasonable to recycle the same clothes, in new combinations to save money and space in your luggage.
Though you can access certain medicine without a prescription that you might need a prescription from in your home country, dosages and potency may vary. It is wise to bring a sufficient supply from your home country for the first few months of your stay. As time goes on and provided that you have a trusted local friend, you can see if the prescriptions you need are available. As you will more than likely need to adjust to the new climate, bring something to combat the common cold and allergies. If you are moving to northern China, you may need a mask as well as a decongestant to combat the pollution; in southern China, you may only need the decongestant if you are prone to bronchial issues.
Why is money on the list? Money or at least access to money is quite important because billing can be quite different than your home country. Firstly, there are quite a bit of upfront costs. If your job does not provide housing, you may be expected to pay as much as three month’s rent (first, last, and security) in addition to the rental agent’s fee. If that’s not enough, you may have to pay utilities, internet, and cable as well. Keep in mind, there may be installation fees associated with internet and cable. Finally, China pays monthly, not bi-weekly so you may not have any income for food, bare necessities, etc. for the first month of your stay.
What to Buy
Unless you have specific dietary needs, you can save money and space by waiting until you arrive to purchase food. Food can be quite cheap in China if you don’t mind street vendors and Chinese brands. If you prefer more familiar brands from your home country, be prepared for them to taste a bit different and to cost a pretty penny.
As mentioned before, a Chinese SIM card is usually more economical than using an international plan from your home country. In some cases, it may be more economical to purchase a new phone altogether. But keep in mind that the phone may not work as well when you return to your home country, especially the internet and wifi. Research the bandwidth the phone provides to determine how well it will work outside of China. The same is true of laptops. Research the capabilities, software, and spyware of the device in China and compare it to the capability of the same device in your home country. You may find that the price is in fact too good to be true.
Moving to China can be quite daunting, but if you are prepared, it can be the adventure of a lifetime.
Anything you believe we left off the list, or if you want to help any one else please put it in the comment section below!
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This Post was written by Nicole A Schmidt