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Old Feb 19th 2014, 11:48 pm   #1
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Arrow A Patient Roadmap to China

Hi All,

In the next 5 years, I am looking to plan a move to China.

This broad query may very well be covered by an article or patchwork of posts from others; however my searches so far have not pulled it all together into a cohesive picture and step-by-step process (or ‘absolute bare-minimum-must-dos’).

The premise for this thread is that I am taking a patient approach to moving myself out to China; this is a long term goal and I am hoping to cover what seem to be the many prerequisite angles required before moving anywhere.

Key factors I am trying to look for insights on are:
  • Costs of moving myself and selected possessions abroad
  • Renting or buying a 1/2 bedroom apartment
  • Vaccinations / shots (if any) required before moving out for a significant period of time
  • The job market for British citizens with almost fluent (and business speaking) Mandarin, if any
  • Difference in requirements when looking to either a) full time live there b) spend a half a decade before returning to Britain
  • Visa requirements or entry tests to become a citizen or long term occupant (linked to the above query, somewhat)

If anyone could point me in the right direction or link me to / share their experiences, it would be most appreciated and perhaps when I am next in China we could meet for a thankyou meal / drink! If any more specificity is needed around the questions, happy to elaborate.

Many thanks for your time,
CJoQ
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Old Feb 20th 2014, 4:45 am   #2
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Default Re: A Patient Roadmap to China

Any idea exactly where in China you might move to?

Have you visited??
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Old Feb 20th 2014, 9:23 pm   #3
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Default Re: A Patient Roadmap to China

Quote:
Originally Posted by ex reg View Post
Any idea exactly where in China you might move to?

Have you visited??
The shortlist compiled so far (subject to change depending on the useful guidance offered!) include the following locations:

- Zhuhai, Guangdong
- Suzhou, Jiangsu,
- Huizhou, Guangdong
- Qingdao

The challenge is thinking that I can chose a location, as I suspect that in the first instance, my location would be driven more by availability of potential jobs and securing the right to longer-term tenure before working towards a particular province in which to reside. If given the choice however, the above locations would take priority.

Cheers
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Old Feb 21st 2014, 2:14 am   #4
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Default Re: A Patient Roadmap to China

So not considering HK.

But have you visited the areas you are considering?
And for what period of time?
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Old Feb 21st 2014, 11:33 pm   #5
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Default Re: A Patient Roadmap to China

Quote:
Originally Posted by ex reg View Post
So not considering HK.

But have you visited the areas you are considering?
And for what period of time?
Regarding the period of time, I would say 5 years minimum however I am not too clear on what impact this could have on Visa arrangements and whether or not citizenship would need to be considered (I really am quite blind on this front, so any help much appreciated!).

HK is an option, however I think the location would be driven by availability of work, at least initially. Many thanks
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Old Feb 22nd 2014, 12:49 am   #6
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Default Re: A Patient Roadmap to China

You might get a few more helpful responses if you make your intentions a little clearer.
1. You said you planning within the next 5 years. So do you mean you will spend the next 5 years "planning" and then go ? Sounds to me like a very long time to plan. Or are you considering coming to China shortly for a period of 5 years ?
2. What is your background. How old are you? From what you say it appears that you are British and speak Putonghua quite well ? Are you ethnic Chinese or Caucasian ?
3. What is your profession ? What job are you hoping to get in China ?
4.Why have you chosen those specific locations ?
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Old Feb 22nd 2014, 3:06 am   #7
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Default Re: A Patient Roadmap to China

I've worked in HK many times over the years.
It was great.

I've visited China because of work quite a few times.
I didn't like it at all and would never work there.

Many people love it though.

If I had to work in China for a specific reason I would only consider Shanghai.
And then only as a last resort.

Lucky I'm retired now.

I have no intention of ever holidaying anywhere in China.

Just one reason I dislike China, I travelled to Zhuhai across the river one time and there was a police post at the landing.
Many boats were coming down the river carrying goods for sale and many were operated by women.

The police would take the women into a hut seperate from the police post and they'd be in there for 5 to 10 minutes.
As the women came out of the hut they all would be buttoning up their clothing.
The police officers were all men.
I was waiting at the police post for maybe 40 minutes and saw this happen.

Did I do anything or complain etc.
Of course not, it wouldn't have made any difference and would maybe have caused me a problem.
That doesn't show me in a good light but I've seen other stuff in China which I similarly dislike.

Last edited by ex reg; Feb 22nd 2014 at 3:13 am.
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Old Feb 22nd 2014, 12:45 pm   #8
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Default Re: A Patient Roadmap to China

Quote:
Originally Posted by hong_konger View Post
You might get a few more helpful responses if you make your intentions a little clearer.
1. You said you planning within the next 5 years. So do you mean you will spend the next 5 years "planning" and then go ? Sounds to me like a very long time to plan. Or are you considering coming to China shortly for a period of 5 years ?
2. What is your background. How old are you? From what you say it appears that you are British and speak Putonghua quite well ? Are you ethnic Chinese or Caucasian ?
3. What is your profession ? What job are you hoping to get in China ?
4.Why have you chosen those specific locations ?
Hi hong_konger, thanks for the prompt on how to ask the right questions.

1. You're correct: approx. 5 years planning to make all the necessary arrangements. I'm somewhat anchored here until then, this is in part due to a number of investments I need to remain in the UK for until they are closed out - so I would like to move when I am around 30 years old (this should tick off part of the next question!).

2. I am British Caucasian; thank you for asking as I didn't think this would be a material factor, now I know.

3. Profession is management consulting.

4. It seems that perhaps the location would be driven by availability of work, so I am happy to refresh my short list and look at this from a more practical perspective - is the location the key starting point? Perhaps from there an understanding of the market for work would be simpler to pinpoint?

Thanks for you help.
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 7:46 am   #9
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Default Re: A Patient Roadmap to China

Quote:
Originally Posted by CJoQ View Post
Hi hong_konger, thanks for the prompt on how to ask the right questions.

1. You're correct: approx. 5 years planning to make all the necessary arrangements. I'm somewhat anchored here until then, this is in part due to a number of investments I need to remain in the UK for until they are closed out - so I would like to move when I am around 30 years old (this should tick off part of the next question!).

2. I am British Caucasian; thank you for asking as I didn't think this would be a material factor, now I know.

3. Profession is management consulting.

4. It seems that perhaps the location would be driven by availability of work, so I am happy to refresh my short list and look at this from a more practical perspective - is the location the key starting point? Perhaps from there an understanding of the market for work would be simpler to pinpoint?

Thanks for you help.
Interesting to see the questions and comments.

CJoQ - I'm currently doing my second stint in Shanghai.
Many of your questions actually come later, after you have an employment contract, rather than now.

At 25 years old, what type of management consulting are you doing? Where is the market for this in China, and which industry?

I think its nice to have some ambition, and to be making such plans at such a young age too. Asia generally protects its countries differently, and somewhat better, than the UK does. So you can't just arrive here and expect to be allowed to work, it doesn't work like that. Aliens (that's you, me and other foreigners who don't have Chinese passports) can only get a work visa, and subsequently a residence permit AFTER you have an employment contract in hand. Before then, you can only come here as a tourist.

First consider why you want to come to China - maybe you can tell us? Clearly you're keen as you have made the effort to learn Mandarin.
Secondly, consider where is best for your kind of work. Applying from the UK using employment agencies either based in UK or in China can be done, however, your networking connections will ultimately increase your ability to gain employment. So you might need to come here as a student, maybe to further your Mandarin, and look for work whilst here during that period. Shanghai is FULL of foreign students and young people in their 20's and 30's, and usually at that age, one doesn't come with the expenses of wives and kids that us, even slightly, older folk have.

To reply to your initial questions, see below:-

- Costs of moving myself and selected possessions abroad - IT VARIES, TRADE IS UP AND DOWN, AND SO ARE COSTS. YOU WILL NEED TO GET YOUR GOODS PACKED FOR EXPORT AND SHIPPED OVER. THE BEST WAY IS TO COME WITH VERY LITTLE AT ALL, MAYBE JUST A COUPLE OF SUITCASES. CERTAINLY FORGET MOVING OVER ANY FURNITURE AT ALL.

- Renting or buying a 1/2 bedroom apartment - YOU RENT, NOT BUY. COSTS CAN BE ANYTHING BETWEEN 3000 FOR SOMEWHERE VERY DISGUSTING, TO 20,000 PER MONTH FOR A NICE SERVICED APARTMENT (RMB). IF AN EXPAT HAS HIS HOUSING COVERED IN HIS CONTRACT BY THE EMPLOYER, GREAT! THE EMPLOYER CAN CLAIM BACK THE TAX, AND YOU SAVE A HELL OF A HEADACHE FINDING AN APARTMENT AND HAVING A MAYBE NOT VERY NICE LANDLORD, PAYING HIM 3 MONTHS IN ADVANCE RATHER THAN MONTHLY.

- Vaccinations / shots (if any) required before moving out for a significant period of time - IF YOUR EMPLOYER IS COVERING YOUR MEDICAL COSTS, WHICH WOULD BE NORMAL, THEN YOU CAN SORT OUT THE GAPS FOR HEPATITS A, B, AND ALL THE OTHERS, AFTER YOU'VE STARTED WORKING.

The job market for British citizens with almost fluent (and business speaking) Mandarin - SURE THERE IS A MARKET. CHINA IS NOT WHAT IT WAS 5 YEARS AGO, AND IS LIKELY TO BE VERY DIFFERENT IN ANOTHER 5 YEARS TOO. YOU WILL STILL BE A FOREIGNER, EVEN IF YOU SPEAK MANDARIN. CHINESE CITIZENS WHO HAVE WORKED OR BEEN EDUCATED ABROAD, ARE NOW COMING BACK AND REPLACING EXPATS IN A NUMBER OF POSITIONS, AND EARNING SIMILARLY VERY HIGH SALARIES TOO WHICH BLOW AWAY THE OUT OF DATE SALARIES THAT THE UK IS SUFFERING THESE DAYS.
HOWEVER, FOREIGN COMPANIES OPERATING HERE, STILL LIKE TO DEAL WITH THEIR OWN KIND, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO TRUST, SO ALL IS NOT LOST.

- Difference in requirements when looking to either a) full time live there b) spend a half a decade before returning to Britain - YOUR WORK VISA AND RESIDENCE PERMITS WILL ONLY LAST FOR 12 MONTHS MAXIMUM, THEN YOU RENEW THEM. THIS WILL DEPEND ON WHAT YOUR EMPLOYER WANTS TO DO WITH YOU. MAYBE THEY MIGHT WANT TO MOVE YOU TO SOMEWHERE ELSE!
IF YOU LOSE YOUR JOB SOMEWAY, THEN YOU HAVE TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY PRETTY MUCH IMMEDIATELY.

- Visa requirements or entry tests to become a citizen or long term occupant (linked to the above query, somewhat) - YOU WANT TO GIVE UP YOUR UK PASSPORT AND BECOME A CHINESE CITIZEN?! I'M NOT SURE HOW THAT COULD BE POSSIBLE. MANY CHINESE THESE DAYS ARE HAPPY TO HAVE IT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!

Excuse the capital letters, I just wanted to define my answers to your questions.

Shanghai is definitely different to what it was five years ago. Then, many expats were coming to Shanghai. Now, all I hear is of many people leaving, or wanting to leave. I think simply, despite Shanghai trying so hard, it will never be a Hong Kong or Singapore for a very long time to come. If you live here, you need to be in the centre, otherwise the areas outside of that can drive you mad. The inner areas of the French Concession Area, JingAn, etc., can be beautiful, but that's also where your rent will be reaching the 20k/month rate levels.

Any further questions, let me know.

Cheers! MP
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Old Feb 24th 2014, 10:04 pm   #10
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Default Re: A Patient Roadmap to China

MP, thank you for the very detailed and insightful response.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MonsterP View Post
Many of your questions actually come later, after you have an employment contract, rather than now. [...] what type of management consulting are you doing? Where is the market for this in China, and which industry?
Business transformation and change management, with a longer term view to entwine these with M&A and Joint Venture work. Industries include: oil & gas, energy and legal. I'm very cognizant of the fact that age does put a cap on my experience in these areas, for now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MonsterP View Post
Secondly, consider where is best for your kind of work. Applying from the UK using employment agencies either based in UK or in China can be done, however, your networking connections will ultimately increase your ability to gain employment. So you might need to come here as a student, maybe to further your Mandarin, and look for work whilst here during that period. Shanghai is FULL of foreign students and young people in their 20's and 30's, and usually at that age, one doesn't come with the expenses of wives and kids that us, even slightly, older folk have.
I have a question on this point summarised at the end, that I would really like to garner your (or anyone elses) input on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MonsterP View Post
- Costs of moving myself and selected possessions abroad - IT VARIES, TRADE IS UP AND DOWN, AND SO ARE COSTS. YOU WILL NEED TO GET YOUR GOODS PACKED FOR EXPORT AND SHIPPED OVER. THE BEST WAY IS TO COME WITH VERY LITTLE AT ALL, MAYBE JUST A COUPLE OF SUITCASES. CERTAINLY FORGET MOVING OVER ANY FURNITURE AT ALL.
Thank you for a straight forward answer, coming with a couple of suitcases it shall be then!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MonsterP View Post
- Renting or buying a 1/2 bedroom apartment - YOU RENT, NOT BUY. COSTS CAN BE ANYTHING BETWEEN 3000 FOR SOMEWHERE VERY DISGUSTING, TO 20,000 PER MONTH FOR A NICE SERVICED APARTMENT (RMB). IF AN EXPAT HAS HIS HOUSING COVERED IN HIS CONTRACT BY THE EMPLOYER, GREAT! THE EMPLOYER CAN CLAIM BACK THE TAX, AND YOU SAVE A HELL OF A HEADACHE FINDING AN APARTMENT AND HAVING A MAYBE NOT VERY NICE LANDLORD, PAYING HIM 3 MONTHS IN ADVANCE RATHER THAN MONTHLY.

- Vaccinations / shots (if any) required before moving out for a significant period of time - IF YOUR EMPLOYER IS COVERING YOUR MEDICAL COSTS, WHICH WOULD BE NORMAL, THEN YOU CAN SORT OUT THE GAPS FOR HEPATITS A, B, AND ALL THE OTHERS, AFTER YOU'VE STARTED WORKING.

- The job market for British citizens with almost fluent (and business speaking) Mandarin - SURE THERE IS A MARKET. CHINA IS NOT WHAT IT WAS 5 YEARS AGO, AND IS LIKELY TO BE VERY DIFFERENT IN ANOTHER 5 YEARS TOO. YOU WILL STILL BE A FOREIGNER, EVEN IF YOU SPEAK MANDARIN. CHINESE CITIZENS WHO HAVE WORKED OR BEEN EDUCATED ABROAD, ARE NOW COMING BACK AND REPLACING EXPATS IN A NUMBER OF POSITIONS, AND EARNING SIMILARLY VERY HIGH SALARIES TOO WHICH BLOW AWAY THE OUT OF DATE SALARIES THAT THE UK IS SUFFERING THESE DAYS.
HOWEVER, FOREIGN COMPANIES OPERATING HERE, STILL LIKE TO DEAL WITH THEIR OWN KIND, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO TRUST, SO ALL IS NOT LOST.

- Difference in requirements when looking to either a) full time live there b) spend a half a decade before returning to Britain - YOUR WORK VISA AND RESIDENCE PERMITS WILL ONLY LAST FOR 12 MONTHS MAXIMUM, THEN YOU RENEW THEM. THIS WILL DEPEND ON WHAT YOUR EMPLOYER WANTS TO DO WITH YOU. MAYBE THEY MIGHT WANT TO MOVE YOU TO SOMEWHERE ELSE!
IF YOU LOSE YOUR JOB SOMEWAY, THEN YOU HAVE TO LEAVE THE COUNTRY PRETTY MUCH IMMEDIATELY.
A theme emerges that I shall address in the conclusion.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MonsterP View Post
- Visa requirements or entry tests to become a citizen or long term occupant (linked to the above query, somewhat) - YOU WANT TO GIVE UP YOUR UK PASSPORT AND BECOME A CHINESE CITIZEN?! I'M NOT SURE HOW THAT COULD BE POSSIBLE. MANY CHINESE THESE DAYS ARE HAPPY TO HAVE IT THE OTHER WAY AROUND!
Noted! This was more of a probe and so will park this facet of the enquiry for now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MonsterP View Post
Shanghai is definitely different to what it was five years ago. Then, many expats were coming to Shanghai. Now, all I hear is of many people leaving, or wanting to leave. I think simply, despite Shanghai trying so hard, it will never be a Hong Kong or Singapore for a very long time to come. If you live here, you need to be in the centre, otherwise the areas outside of that can drive you mad. The inner areas of the French Concession Area, JingAn, etc., can be beautiful, but that's also where your rent will be reaching the 20k/month rate levels.
Thank you for the pithy and honest context, very useful to hear this perspective.


I have learnt so much from this thread so far - thank you.

Just a couple of queries in response to what has been discussed so far, perhaps at MP or any other readers who might have a view:

1) In your experience, do you have any insights on how to develop such a network in which to build good working relationships? My initial thought was something along the lines of a paid internship - do you have a view on these kinds of schemes (perhaps something like CRCC Asia)?

2) It seems a lot could hang off my employer for getting a role in China more than anything else - plus this seems like the safest route as vaccinations, visa, accommodation, etc. seem to be taken care of by the employer. Are you aware of any prominent / proven track record agencies that arrange these types of roles OR (and perhaps much more likely): any UK employers with a large footprint in China that are flexible or accommodating for career choices that involve international travel. In management consultancy, we could safely assume that the Big 4 would do this, but interested to hear about all industries.

Many thanks again for your input.
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Old Mar 1st 2014, 1:44 am   #11
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Default Re: A Patient Roadmap to China

Regarding your two questions:-

1) Maybe a bit difficult for me to answer this one. I've been in my industry for nearly 30 years, and networking, as a specific activity, I think has only been around during the last ten years. I simply network within my specific industry and look for events linked to that. Not sure what to say regarding internship.

2) Remember that you'll be starting at the bottom as an expat. So, like myself and many others, you don't get accommodation, and many other benefits paid for you from the start. You'll probably just get a salary. It might take you 2-3 years of proving yourself before those things start to come along. I suggest you target headhunters that are active in your industry, the more specific, the better.

All the best in your search!
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Old Apr 13th 2014, 12:25 pm   #12
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Default Re: A Patient Roadmap to China

I would suggest a company such as International SOS - they have offices in Singapore and Beijing. They are into Oil & Gas as well as mining and so on etc. I got a job with them after 6 months of trying and they sort out everything.
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