Report: China Is The Best Place To Be An Expat

China is best place for expats

A recent report by HSBC has confirmed what we all know: China’s a pretty nice place to live as an expat. The best place, empirically speaking.

Previously recognised as a key destination for career-minded expats, this year’s survey shows that China’s workforce is becoming ever-more global, with more and more expats arriving in the country to advance their careers.

The report acknowledges that living here offers a great “work-life balance,” which we imagine is the boring way to say it’s easy for foreigners to make enough money to get shit-faced on scotch.

Of course, it’s not all about the exuberant unwindings and louche lifestyle. China’s apparently a fine destination for families, according to HSBC:

China is also valued by expat parents as a destination to bring up their families. Many expats in China believe that the quality of education available to their children is better than that at home (56% compared to a global average of 49%) and three quarters (74%) say that their children are safer in China than they were at home. Childcare is another area in which China triumphs as the country occupies 16th place in the league table.

Dan Harris of the China Law Blog points out that “if you take out the raising children portion, however, China comes in at number 2, behind Thailand.” Still, it’s nice to see a formal acknowledgement, now and then, that for all the problems we encounter here, there are more reasons to stay than leave. The mainland is relatively inexpensive, filled with opportunities, and stocked with history and culture. Importantly, it’s never boring.

We say this knowing full well that there is a vocal subset that will choose to focus on the pollution, the traffic, the corruption, the censorship, the failings of government, the abuses that occur throughout the various strata of society, and any number of problems that afflict developing countries. If you take out the actual living, the minutes we might spend walking from our apartment door to the local supermarket, with greetings exchanged with the courtyard’s maintenance man and the fruit vendor, and the hours we pass birdwatching or cycling or engaged in another hobby of choice, and the long evenings when terraced rooftops are colored with the plush sunsplash of a changing season — yeah, China kinda sucks. Now show me a place that doesn’t.

(H/T Alicia)

    11 Responses to “Report: China Is The Best Place To Be An Expat”

    1. Jive madra

      “…bird watching…” where, in a rotisserie?! If there’s an actual place, please do tell. Unless if by “birds” you mean girls…

    2. jacob

      The Hong Kong Shanghai Bank says China is bestest! Sino-solipsism. (yes, I know it’s based in London)
      Local media here in Korea routinely cite articles proclaiming Seoul as the best place to live for expats.
      Same self congratulatory guff when I lived in Tokyo.
      I wouldn’t be surprised if the local Kinshasa papers had similar articles, right next to the most recent increase in murder/rape stats.

    3. mfw13

      Given the fact that the article doesn’t even mention air pollution, its hard to take it seriously.

      Certainly China is a decent place for the type of expat who lives in a 5-BR, 3-BA villa in Lido, gets driven everywhere in a BMW/Audi/Mercedes, gets a huge pay boost, sends their kids to international schools, and never comes into contact with the real China.

      But for expats who are not executives working for corporate multinationals, the picture isn’t quite as rosy…

      • mike

        “sends their kids to international schools, and never comes into contact with the real China.”

        A-fucking-men! My jaw was on the floor when my friends took me to a giant Hotel Swimming Pool in 浦东, surrounded by giant 大厦s. Most of the people in the pool were foreigners and had (amazingly) western wives! They were actually living… dare I say it.. normal lives. Reason being: they were totally loaded, living in the nearby palaces, and would never set foot in ‘real’ China during their time in the middle Kingdom. I doubt they spoke a word of Chinese either. Ignorance is bliss.

    4. mike

      This thing is totally insane. Forget the air pollution and lack of a legal system (Good god, who would raise Children in China?! It’s practically immoral at this point). Can we just talk about the snickering, pointing and gawking you’ll get when you visit the illustrious middle kingdom. All I can say is, God help you if you ever 学会中文. God what a disappointment.

      The Expat era in China ended in 2008 and the nail was pounded in the coffin with the 2012 Foreigner “Social Insurance” (wink wink nudge nudge) policy.

    5. plorf

      I think at this point the main thing going for China is the money you can make here (assuming you don’t work as a teacher or for a local company). Other than that I don’t see any objective advantages (other than personal preferences/culture) living as an expat in China.
      Prices for good quality in most fields are very high, international education is incredibly expensive, bad environment/nature. I like living here at the moment, but I’m certainly not deluded enough to think that it’s the best place to be for expats – nobody was jealous back home when I told them I’m going to live and work in Beijing. Now if I told them I’d be going to Sydney, or Bangkok, or even boring Singapore that would be something different..

    6. Alan

      That is rot. An impossible and perplexing fluid visa situation, no residency granted to expats, and little to no hope of ever becoming one.


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