Is China a long haul expat destination or just a stop on the road?

Published:  8 Nov at 6 PM
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Most expats in China eventually face deciding whether they want to leave or stay.

It has to be said that China is a unique world destination for expat professionals, whatever their expertise, but the vast majority aren’t in it for the long haul. However fascinating and challenging the stay in this unique country is, sooner rather than later it’s time to consider whether leaving isn’t a better option. For the majority, the factors which need considering are many, with the first usually connected to financial goals.

Following the money is a prime motivator for ambitious expats, with salaries in China enough to live a comfortable life but not quite enough to be able to save for the inevitable rainy day, wherever it occurs. The closer retirement creeps, the more uncertain the average expat’s situation becomes, with many taking better-paying jobs elsewhere in the world simply because the extra cash can be saved or invested. The problem of staying put in China is that a professional ‘ceiling’ prevents upward mobility and the extra pay which goes with it.

For those who’re more of less permanently stressed due to certain elements of Chinese culture and work life, a change of environment eventually becomes essential as the alternative is depression and discontent. If adjusting the lifestyle or changing the job doesn’t work, considering living and working in another country is the only answer. A good few expats finally give up due to the difficulty of making themselves understood, having tried with only limited success to learn the notoriously tricky language.

If you’re unsure about your future, a list of the pros and cons of staying in China can be a help towards objectifying your needs rather than your wants, as seeing your situation on a page in black and white can clear your mind and identify your next move. One obvious advantage of moving to a country nearer to home is that you can resume closer relationships with family and friends. For many expats, China is simply a stepping stone leading to ultimate goals, and is used to provide work experience, earn a crust or even study before leaving for the next international stop-off.
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