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16 Things You Learn As A British Expat In China

I moved from London to Shanghai earlier this year and I’ve had to learn a hell of a lot fast.

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5. Nightclubs don’t have to involve struggles with awful bouncers.

You don’t care if we bring in a take-away pizza? Or if we’re wearing jeans and flip-flops? And it’s buy-one-get-one-free? Why couldn’t Mahiki in London be like this…

7. You can afford a cleaner even if you earn half what you did before.

It costs around £2.50 an hour to have an Ayi, or “Aunt”, clean your apartment, wash your clothes, do your washing up and cook for you. It’s so affordable that even the Ayis have Ayis.


10. And your plan to “buy local” is a charade you’ll repeat every week.

It usually involves ten minutes of wandering the noodle aisles, then slinking to the import section for a £4.50 jar of pasta sauce.

11. If you’re into football, Saturday nights turn into wi-fi and 3G searches.

Due to time zone differences kick offs in the English leagues take place late on Saturday in eastern China. It can seriously affect dating schedules.


12. Despite thinking you’d be out of the loop, you speak to your friends back home all the time.

Because you’ve got a VPN that lets you use Facebook (that’s banned by the government) plus you’ve got Skype and WhatsApp too. Anyway, you never saw the mates who lived further away than a mile from you more than once every six months.

14. You can stumble home at any time and feel totally safe because people aren’t lurking to mug you.

You're around four times less likely to be a victim of murder if you are in China than you are if you are in the US, according to national homicide rates. Which is good to know.

15. Although for pretty much everything you need to do there are six forms to fill out.

And the form will be in Mandarin. And you’ll need a photocopy of your passport. And one of your residency permit. And you’ll need your official company stamp. Which you can only get in Shanghai/Beijing (delete city you live in).