Moving to China: Full Guidance to Relocate Smoothly

With its rich economic, cultural, and geographic diversity, China is a modern financial powerhouse with firmly rooted traditional values. This makes it an incredibly interesting destination to relocate to.

If you desire to broaden your understanding and gain additional justification for relocating to China, IMovingTo is here to provide all the necessary guidance.

nanchang scenery,view from the tengwang pavilion,China

What You Should Know About China Before Relocation?

  • With 3.6 million square miles of breathtaking scenery, thriving cities, and unique culture, China is an eternally fascinating country for newcomers to explore. The potential of moving up the professional ladder and expanding into new areas is also attractive.
  • If you want to drive in China, you need to obtain a Chinese driver’s license. Driving in China with a foreign or international driver’s license is prohibited, even for visitors. Compared to the rest of the world, China has similar traffic laws.
  • Although there is a very visible language barrier, locals will generally welcome you with smiles and attempt to speak with you. They may even ask to take photos with you at tourist attractions.
  • With buses and railways connecting the entire country, China has an excellent public transportation system. When you consider the distances involved, the trains are incredibly efficient, cutting-edge, and also a good value.
  • Many expats are unaware that there are many stunning beaches throughout China’s 18,000 km of continental coastline, even in densely populated areas like Hong Kong. 

Cost of Living in China

The average salary for foreigners in China is between €1500-2000. However, living expenses are not pricey. As a matter of fact, living costs in China are generally lower than in the USA and the majority of Europe. For example, food in China is often quite affordable, especially fresh fruit and foods sold by street vendors.

Additionally, China’s residents generally pay low taxes, which enables them to enjoy a high standard of living at reasonable prices. Even though the majority of expats prefer to live in large cities like Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and Tianjin, you should be aware that Beijing and Shanghai are among the most expensive places in the world to reside.

  • One-bedroom apartment in the city center: €659.95
  • One-bedroom apartment outside of the city center: €354.78
  • Basic bills (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for a small apartment: €52.07
  • Monthly transport pass: €22.65
  • Three-course meal for a couple in a mid-range restaurant: €28.31
  • Cinema ticket: €6.58

Regulations Regarding Visa Types

Whatever visa is suitable for you, there is plenty of paperwork that needs to be submitted with your application. A health certificate and an employment license from the appropriate authorities in China are 2 important requirements. After arriving, you will need to register with the local police department and public safety office.

  • Those moving to China for commercial and business concerns should apply for a business visa. 
  • Student visas come in 2 forms: X1 and X2. Generally, X2 is offered for single-entry and is valid for no more than 6 months. You will have access to multiple entries and an extended presence in China with X1 if you choose to enroll in a bachelor’s or master’s program at one of the local universities. 
  • Those with work visas who are moving to China should request a work permit from their company. To obtain a work visa, you should also register with the police station.

How to Move Your Household Belongings in China

Expats who are permitted to reside in China for at least a year should submit a written application to the Chinese customs office to import their household belongings. 

Because of this complication, you need to take advantage of the services offered by reputable international moving companies that will handle all the formalities on your behalf by giving the required permission. Consider that they often provide international moving and packing services as well. But first, let’s look at some essential details regarding importing your possessions.

Only a limited number of personal items for personal use may be imported duty-free. If allowed to import a vehicle, expats should pay taxes, which forces many of them to buy a car in China or rely on other means of transportation. 

Generally, any personal items brought into China by non-Chinese citizens should be priced at no more than 2,000 CNY to avoid a 20% tax. There are, however, certain exceptions to this rule. In particular, long-term non-residents who are importing personal belongings and making a first-time application for customs clearance are exempt from duty.

Healthcare System & Insurance

The social insurance system in China provides free public healthcare for the vast majority of locals and, in most cases, expats as well. Generally, the healthcare system provides fundamental coverage, but it will depend on the area in which you live. For instance, in Shanghai, expats are not eligible for free healthcare. 

In China, the average cost of private health insurance is rarely within the means of those who earn the average salary. Moreover, since local insurance companies offer their services only in Mandarin, it’s pretty uncommon for an expat to find a customer care service that will assist in English.

However, you can select one of the local insurance companies if you are familiar with the language or have a consultant who can help you with the insurance application procedure. Getting one has the advantage of providing you with a more comprehensive package, which should provide you with wider options when choosing your doctor or hospital.

How to Take Care of Your Taxes & Finances

Even though creating a bank account is generally straightforward, managing taxes can be challenging, particularly if you’re self-employed or own your own business. Along with your income, it takes into account how long you’ve been in China. Depending on your income, the tax rate in China can range from 3% to 45%, but expats do have a higher non-taxable income than Chinese citizens.

You’ll need to provide identification, confirmation of residency, money to deposit, and your work visa or student visa to open a bank account.

Additionally, you’ll need to have China’s mobile payment apps AliPay and WeChat Wallet, which enable you to link your bank card, send money to friends and purchase train tickets. You can pay for your food by scanning a WeChat QR code, even at some of the smallest restaurants. 

Getting an Accommodation in China

By far, Ziroom is the easiest way to find a place to rent in China. The reason is that the Ziroom App allows users to sign contracts and pay rent, deposits, and utility bills. Otherwise, getting assistance from coworkers or friends to connect you with an agent could be your best option. To pay for a deposit, you will need to have some savings available. 

In addition to the rent, new tenants should budget for a deposit, monthly utilities, and a realtor’s commission. When migrating to China, hiring a realtor is a wise investment. They can assist new immigrants and visitors with navigating the city and translate contracts, which are always written in Chinese

Since purchasing real estate in China is neither simple nor inexpensive, you will probably need to obtain a mortgage. You should indeed raise at least 30% of the purchase price on your own, though, to qualify for one.

Social Life, Communication & Laws to be Aware Of

  • China uses the hukou system, which is a national database of every individual. The law, which was largely responsible for establishing a caste structure in the nation, was influenced by old Chinese customs. Every household is required to register details such as its field of employment, legal address, religion, physical description, and urban or rural status.
  • Keep your passport close to hand at all times. Police conduct sporadic inspections, particularly during times of increased security and significant athletic or political events. A fine or jail may be imposed for failing to provide your ID.
  • If your knowledge of Chinese is quite low or nonexistent before arriving in China, you might consider downloading the Pleco Chinese dictionary app as well as translation apps like Baidu or Google translate.
  • Numerous websites and social media platforms, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, are restricted in China. You will need to log your IP address in a different place if you want to access them. A VPN can be used for this. 
  • Depending on your smartphone and/or network operator, there may be a slight difference in the criteria for using your phone with a Chinese SIM card. However, in general, you might need to contact your network provider before visiting China. Or you might be able to unlock your phone using a professional’s unlock code.

Best Places to Live in China


One of the greatest cities in China is Shanghai, which is a major business center. It is home to the first commercial maglev train line in the world and has a sizable metro system. 

Shanghai residents have access to great dining establishments, nightclubs, cafés, pubs, and shopping. However, Shanghai’s cost of living can be high, much like in other well-known international locations.


One of the most highly advanced cities in China is Guangzhou, a dense megacity with a long history of economic prosperity. Guangzhou is a great place for expats who are constantly looking for urban adventures and who thrive in a huge, bustling metropolis.


There is a long history of foreigners living in Qingdao. In the late 19th century, Germany was given a lease on this commercial port city, and ever since, a considerable expat population has called it home. It is obvious why so many foreigners fall in love with this city, with its wide-open lakes and buildings in the German style.


Beijing is China’s political, cultural, and intellectual capital. Beijing is one of the best cities in China to live in because of its unique blend of culture, history, and modern architecture. The Great Wall of China, the Summer Palace, and the Forbidden City are just a few of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Beijing.

Pros & Cons of Moving to China


Outstanding gastronomy 

You probably already know what a massive gastronomic powerhouse China is if you’re a dedicated gourmet and have explored the cuisine of your specified location. Furthermore, because this culture is so focused on cuisine, excellent food is available all the time. Living in China has several benefits, one of which is experiencing its diverse cuisine.

Extensive expat community 

More than 500,000 foreign teachers reside in China due to its reputation as a desirable teaching destination. Living in China has its advantages, and one of them is the tight expat communities you’ll find there. 

This means that your new circle of friends can be exciting and diverse. When homesickness and culture shock begin to become a little too intense, fellow expats may be a fantastic source of support and can show you the basics of Chinese life.

Excellent travel opportunities 

China is a country that is centrally located in Asia, making it the ideal place from which to take a weekend trip overseas. Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, as well as Japan and South Korea, are highly popular travel destinations. Moreover, if you keep going east, Hong Kong and Taiwan are right there, and they will easily reach Tibet and Nepal to the west. 


Cultural shock 

From clearing one’s throat in the morning to teaching a child to use the restroom in public, smoking everywhere, and shouting at the top of one’s voice to obtain a waiter’s attention in a restaurant, many behaviors are unconscionable. Confusing things in China do take some time to get used to.

Air pollution 

Despite China’s best efforts, pollution remains a serious issue in its largest cities. Not every day of the year, but often enough for residents to buy an air purifier for their apartments.

Final Thoughts

Take advantage of international relocation services at IMovingTo and plan everything with our best international moving practices to relocate to a country that is characterized by breathtaking scenery, thriving cities, and unique culture. 

So, wish you luck with your relocation to China! 

Save up to 70% of your relocation costs using our service

Fill In Your Details In The Form Below

Save up to 70% of your international moving cost in only 2 minutes
Reduce Your Relocation Costs