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Work And Live In China

China Essentials

The follow items are suggestions to make your transition to China easier and allow you to take full advantage of life in China, though your best resource for maximizing your experience will be your future colleagues. Many of these apps are Shanghai specific, but most cities should have an equivalent app or service.

Internet Behind the Great Firewall

You’ll want a VPN (Virtual Private Network)

Many of the social networking and several news sources are blocked in China. For example Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Google are not accessible in China.  You can use VPNs to access these sites. There are free VPNs to download, but the most reliable ones require a monthly or yearly subscription.  Here are a few of the best VPNs out there:

Express VPN

Astrill VPN Service

Free VPN service

If you are a Gmail user,  you should create another email address with Yahoo, Hotmail, etc., because Gmail is unaccessible without a VPN.

Renting an Apartment

After arriving in a new location, obviously finding a home is essential.  It can be a daunting task, especially when a majority of the deal is being done in a different language. First, identify an area of the city where you would like to live and find a realtor in that neighborhood. Ask your colleagues for suggestions as they most likely have been on a similar housing hunt mission. Read through the links provided for a much more detailed description of how to find housing in China:

Jeff Lindsay Blog- Renting an Apartment in Shanghai

Internations – Rent in China

Police Registration
If you stay at a hotel in China, you are automatically registered with the police.  Once you decided to rent, you’ll need to visit the local police station.  It is very helpful if you ask your real estate agent to assist you, but it is manageable by yourself. You’ll need to bring multiple copies of your passport and visa, a copy of the rental agreement, a copy of the housing ownership document, and a copy of the landlords ID.

Most schools will help you setup a bank account to which your salary will be deposited each month.  When transferring money back home, you’ll need several documents.  Bring your passport, pay stub, tax form, the foreign expert certificate, and your work contract.  You will also need the SWIFT code and address of the bank to which you are transferring funds, and the bank account number.  You will be limited to sending back only the amount of money for which you were taxed, unless you bring in multiple tax forms.

Cell Phone
China Mobile or China Unicom are the major service providers.  If you plan to bring a phone from home, be sure that it is “unlocked,” otherwise it will be completely useless.  At the store they will be able to set you up with a phone and a plan.  There are locations all over the city. You will need your passport.

Essential Apps


This app extends far beyond social networking. Many people link their bank accounts to their WeChat and use it for everything for daily purchase to paying their rent.  You can order train tickets, pay bills, and hail taxis.

Bon App- Shanghai

Excellent app to help find amazing Here is a great food app to find great restaurants around the city; there is also a great English map as well.

Helpful Chinese Language Apps

Google Translate
Even though Google is blocked, you are still able to use Google translate.  Just use the camera to snap a picture of an unknown Chinese Character and let Google Translate work its magic.

Pleco – A Chinese Dictionary

Memrise – Chinese Language Lessons


Alipay allows you to hail taxis, pay at restaurants, stores, and online. Link Alipay to your debit card, scan the QR code, and your transaction is complete.

Android- https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.eg.android.AlipayGphone

Apple- https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/alipay-makes-life-easy/id333206289?mt=8