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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Of Job Satisfaction and Language Barriers

China is great for careers, but getting used to life in the world's most populated country requires effort.

A Place for Your Career

For the career-minded expat, China provides great opportunities to gain some work experience abroad. In the Job & Career subcategory of the Working Abroad Index, the country ranks 3rd overall, just beaten by Malta and the USA. Three out of four survey participants in China are overall satisfied with their jobs, and 65% welcome their career prospects.

Furthermore, two-thirds of expats appreciate their job security and only 3% regard the state of the economy negatively (around the world, 21% say the same for their respective country). As such, China is positioned at the 13th place out of 64 countries in the Job Security subcategory. By contrast the country only ranks 47th in terms of work-life balance.

Three out of four expats (74%) are overall satisfied with their financial situation and 87% regard their disposable household income as enough or even more than enough to get by. As a result, China ranks 5th in the Personal Finance Index, making it an even more attractive place for the career-minded expat. An exception, though, is medical care - less than half approve of its affordability (42%) and its quality (44%).

Expat Statistics 2015

Expat statistics for China - infographic
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Travel: Yes, Environment: No

The climate and weather give one in three respondents a hard time in China, as does the quality of the environment, which is rated positively by only 5% (compared to a global average of 64%). As a matter of fact, China's economic rise in the last decade has led to extensive pollution of air, water, and land. Political stability, peacefulness, and personal safety, on the other hand, are all appreciated by the majority of expatriates (74%, 73%, and 90%, respectively).

Traveling in, to, and from China is considered a plus - 85% welcome the opportunity to travel, which is mostly on par with the worldwide average of 83%. A further six out of seven survey participants (86%) think highly of the transportation infrastructure. However, assuming that most expats are based in big cities, this rating does probably not reflect the transportation infrastructure in the whole country. Altogether, four-fifths of expats in China (81%) are generally happy with their life.

Adapting to Chinese Culture Isn't Easy

Arriving and adapting to the Chinese way of life presents a challenge for many expats, though. In the Feeling Welcome subcategory of the Ease of Settling In Index, China ranks 61st out of 64. In fact, 42% find it difficult to settle down in this country (vs. 25% globally) and only half the expatriates claim to be feeling at home in it.

The population in China is considered overall friendly by 68% of survey participants. Another two-thirds confirm that making new friends is generally easy, while making local friends is regarded as straightforward by only 37%. Indeed, 45% of expats in China say that their friends are mostly other expats, whereas 10% claim that they are mainly local residents.

Part of this problem might be the language barrier, which is not to be underestimated. China is positioned at number 62 in the Language subcategory, only ahead of Finland and Russia. This is because learning the local language is perceived as difficult by 81% of respondents, while 46% also agree that it is not easy to live in China without speaking the local language.

Family Life: Neither Great, nor Bad

As a parent, you have to consider additional factors when moving abroad. With regard to childcare options, half the expat parents in China rate the availability positively (49%) and consider them easy to afford (50%). The availability of education options, in comparison, is rated favorably by 62% of expat parents, but only 23% appreciate its affordability.

This might well have something to do with the choice of school: 65% of expat parents in China send their children to an international school - which are typically expensive - and only 8% to a local state school. Around the globe, 30% opt for local state schools and 34% send their kids to international schools. In the Quality of Education subcategory of the Family Life Index, China is nevertheless found at 12th place out of 41 countries.

In China, three out of five expat parents (61%) consider their children's health and safety positive, while around the globe 76% say so - this discrepancy might be due to the aforementioned pollution. Nevertheless, four-fifths of expat parents are overall satisfied with their family life in China and 78% confirm that their kids are generally well.

Further Reading