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Why moving to China has been one of my greatest decisions

5 more reasons to move to China

A few months ago, I shared my plans to move to China in Fall 2019.

I was excited about a number of things:

  • The cost of living in the region and the quality of life that only $2,000 a month could afford me.
  • A fun offer teaching Oral English - which means no grading responsibilities and the ability to shape class topics about whatever I think is interesting and relevant as long as it got students speaking practice, like music, culture and film.
  • Having about four months of vacation and ten teaching hours per week - leaving me plenty of time to pursue my many other projects and to travel throughout the region (or to the other side of the world).
While all of these things are still true, now that I'm here, there are even more reasons why I'm convinced that this is the perfect place for me right now.

Lifestyle

First of all, $2,000/month was an over-estimate. I've rented a one-bedroom apartment with almost floor to ceiling windows that's centered in a large shopping district and 10 minutes from the subway and one of the city's largest malls. Between rent, wifi, phone data and utilities, the total cost is .....$450. I rarely spend more than 20RMB on a meal (about $2.85) and my breakfast and lunch are free from Monday-Friday, meaning, my total food spend is about 220RMB per week ....or about $30. That brings our total to $570 per month. I have a few bills that I pay in the US (subscriptions, my US-based phone service, etc.) that I won't include because they're personal bills - and will obviously vary by person. But let's say I spend another $230 a month on shopping + $150 on wellness services like acupuncture, massages and manicures + $50 on travel and transportation to other parts of the country.

Total = $1,000 per month.

Needless to say, I have aggressive investing goals this year.

Business Opportunity

Being in the heart of manufacturing means that shopping is extremely, extremely cheap. There are no import mark-ups. And when in-person, or online using Chinese search terms, I get the local prices. I won't dig too deep here, but I've been buying hanging plants for my apartment from the expensive grocery store inside of the wealthy mall next to the Marriot. The plants are $2. Given that I have a number of product-focused ideas to expand one (like additional book printing and binding options at intentions and custom cards for a Flourishing project), I'm excited to be able to purchase and test a number of products and manufacturers with ease.

Variety

China is massive. There are 50+ Chinese ethnic groups. There are 55+ UNESCO World Heritage sites. There are 20+ provinces - with their own climate, food and customs. Similar to the way someone could travel the US for years on-end and experience completely different various regions like Louisiana, Florida, New York, California, Arizona, North Carolina, Texas, and Utah - I can experience just as much variety in China. I already have a "short-list" of experiences I want to have here - like hiking the Great Wall, visiting the pandas in Chengdu, eating my way through Sichuan, cruising the rivers of Suzhou and of course visiting cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

Adventure & Travel

When I moved from Asia to Europe last Winter, I knew I'd be back. I'm absolutely crazy about this continent - and there are dozens of places that I want to visit in this region like Japan, Taiwan, India, Vietnam and Laos. That's not even touching on countries that I've visited and want to continue to get to know better - like Korea, Thailand (the Thai islands), Singapore, Indonesia, and Philippines! I'm beyond excited to be back on this side of the world and that much closer to seeing these places.

Learning & Growth

It's challenging to be in a place where I don't speak the language. It's challenging to learn Mandarin and to try to Google Translate tea in the grocery store, only for it to spit out "bebidas alcoholes" (that ...can't be right. Can it? I thought this was milk tea). Living in a place with a completely different culture, with different norms and customs, and in a place where you're clearly and easily identified as a foreigner can be really tough! And I absolutely love it. I love how hard my brain is working to learn this language. I love that I am almost forced to pay attention and be present - because I can't just zone out or I'll end up lost and confused. I love how different this experience is - how I can eat a food that I've never heard of or I can pick a tea that I've never tasted or learn about a period of history or culture that I'm completely unfamiliar with. I love growth in all of its forms - but the kind of growth that comes from positive experiences is my favorite.

Everyone has asked me how long I'll be here - I don't know! I'm a bit of a wild card but I'm comfortable saying at least a year. This list is a nice start in explaining my decision - but there's also just something about the energy. The natural light. The plants. The weather. The lakes. It just feels right here. At this point, I can see myself staying in Shenzhen for a number of years - but I could also see myself exploring a city like Hangzhou in 2021. Only time will tell.

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