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longer term expat - pros/cons


feebie

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I have been in China for 1.5 years

I can seem to bring myself to leave

I was only planning on staying her for 1 year

but think I will try and stay long term

I am sick of my life feeling so temporary

(practically living out of a suitcase)

so I want to settle here or back home

I would like to hear about the pros/cons

of being more of a longer term expat

3 year +

or even longer people who have been here for 5 or 10 years

most expats I meet seem to have been here for 1 year or 5 years

I wonder what average number of years that expats usually stay

and their reasons for leaving

Logically I don't think I should stay in China long term

but I feel like I really want to

could someone talk some sense into me

and warn me what I am getting myself into

thanks

(btw I might want to have a child in the next few years, kinda worried about what sort of education my child would get here (memorizing stuff, no creative thinking etc)

also individuality discouraged etc)

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I've been here 13 years. But then, I have been through the whole family raising thing a while back. I stay because I like my job, I like my lifestyle and most of my friends are here.

It will be difficult for anyone to give you any meaningful advice. It is too personal a choice. However, I would say that if you are having doubts, then maybe it's not for you.

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Pros:

Everything that makes China China

Cons

the same

:mrgreen:

But really,

Pros:

Everything that makes China China

The people

Lower stress than USA

the language

Cons:

Cancer?

Distance from family

Oneness of thought opinion on many things

No wikipedia

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"Lower stress than USA"

explain?

I am originally from east coast US but moved out to a small, beautiful town on the California coast where people are relaxed. This year, however, I am living in Taipei and feel like the stress is unbearable... I can't wait to go home.

To original poster: yes I am not a long-term expat of China, but I have met many, especially here in Taipei. Most of them remained for 1) women (not to be mean, but I don't think some of these guys could easily find someone to dote on them in the U.S., whereas here the women fall head over heels for foreign men) or 2) financial reasons (great job with a top salary, and materially it shows in their house(s)/apartment(s), cars, other toys). As for raising a family, I presume it's the same in Beijing or Shanghai, but most expats send their children to the European, American, or International schools.

A sidenote: I lived in France for 5 years in grade school->through middle school (my dad's job was in Paris) and I attended an International school based on a combined French/UK/American style system. Hands down it was the best education I've ever received, not to mention I'm fluent in French because of it.

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You may want to ask yourself:

1. Can you find a meaningful job in China, that you would be happy with in the long term?

2. And from which you'd be able to put your kids in an international school (if that's what you desire)? In fact, I don't think you should count Chinese schools as necessarily being worse than western schools. I attended a local Hong Kong secondary school during an exchange programme a few years back, and I feel that many western schools lack in some important respects such as (i) knowledgable teachers (teaching is usually a very low-status job in the west, less so in China), (ii) trust between students and teachers, (iii) the sense of being part of a community, (iv) discipline. Some western schools teach too much fluff and students don't end up learning very much. Actually, the critical thinking skills I obtained before university, I learnt from talking to my parents at home rather than at school. There are many, many Chinese students at my university who completed all of their pre-16 schooling in the Mainland (they usually have to come over to do their A-levels to be admitted to university), and it's not like they're doing any worse than their English peers.

3. Have you ever lived in a country other than China and your home country? Personally, I'm kind of a "perpetual traveller", and I think I'm more comfortable about everywhere where I can be a foreigner compared to my "passport country". You wouldn't understand whether you love China or just love "abroad" unless you've tried living somewhere else.

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I've been in China for about 3 1/2 years, 5 1/2 in Asia altogether. One of the cons of being an ex-pat is watching successive groups of friends come and go, at least foreign friends. I'm at the end of another batch as we speak, they're all about to head back home, or have already left. I guess if one is hoping for lasting friendships, it's best look to the local population.

What have you been doing for this 1.5 years? Working? Being a student in China and working full-time are very different things. I've worked full-time in China, but have been a student for the last year and a half. I've enjoyed my time as a student much more than my time as an English teacher. Sadly, my time as a student is almost at an end, but the work I'll mostly likely be doing for the next year will not be teaching, thank god. You may need to wait a bit longer to see if your feelings change, say after another 6 months.

The "honeymoon" period that foreigners go through when in a new land is a very real phenomenon. If you had been here for less than a year, I'd say you definitely should wait longer to see how you truly feel about China. It seems most people pass beyond seeing China/Japan/Korea/wherever-it-is-that-is-new-and-exciting through rose colored glasses after a year or so. If you've been a student this 1.5 years, then I'd recommend get a job and work for a year. If you've been working for the last year and a half, and you still love China, then maybe you've found your new home.

Have you been back home yet? If this is your first time living abroad, going back home after about two years will tell you a lot about whether or not you're going to end up living abroad for a long time. If you go back home and feel totally disjointed, weirded out, and can't wait to get back to China then it's the ex-pat's life for you, haha!

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1. Wikipedia has been unblocked for now. For most of my time here it has been blocked and it represents the entire blocking thing - rediculous.

2.

I am originally from east coast US but moved out to a small, beautiful town on the California coast where people are relaxed. This year, however, I am living in Taipei and feel like the stress is unbearable... I can't wait to go home

Most of the time we are talking about Mainland here.

Look up the average work week for white-collar workers by country (and commute time).

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I have been in China for 1.5 years

You don't have to make a decision now abt living in China long-term. I would just aim for the 3 yr mark for now, then make a decision. I don't think 1.5 years is enough to make such a big decision. One warning though, after 3 yrs, it will be a much bigger adjustment for you to return home.

After 10 years in China I tried to return home - I figured now or never. Although it was totally feasible as far as resettling in my hometown, getting a job, etc., I realized that I"d grown accustomed to a more slow-paced lifestyle that allowed me to pursue studying foreign languages, growing in my musical and artistic talents, and contemplative prayer. Because the high cost of living in the US means that I must work a 40 hour week, I find I miss my 20 hour Chinese work week more than anything else. Of course most Chinese are in the same rat race in China that I find myself running in America. Anyway, now I'm planning on returning to China this fall to live, and I'm looking forward to it.

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Hi Feebie,

As background I first came china in 2001. Before China was apart of the WTO, lived here during SARS, bird flu and Japanese protests. I had 1 year studying a Master's degree in England but the rest of the time has been here in China.

I have Chinese wife, with a small apartment and a 20 year chinese mortgage.

Things to think about on the pro-side

The cost of living and general lifestyle here seems easier for me than back home.

I earn only around $10,000 a year but live very well. (I ride my bike every where, can eat out when and where I want, go traveling several times a year, can save an pay off the mortgage early) Even my chinese tutor is cheap.

Compared to commuting by car 30 minutes, in the states, renting a house, be limited in going to bars and restaurants (as they are expensive as is normal food). Paying 28% taxes.

In addition the RMB will keep on appreciating against the dollar. my $10,000 a year salary could easily become 20,000 in a couple of years if it continues to appreciate. At the moment going back to the west for holidays is still difficult and I usually stay with family or friends.

I do have decent chinese base, and work as translator/interpreter. There could be opportuinities in logistics or I could go back to English teaching which I did for most of the years I lived in China, including those studying full time.

For me, with some language I find China has a lot of opportuinities. I think in the 2nd tier cities there are still not that many westerners and provides niches for us to grow and use to our advantage. (I espicially like the fact, that if you don't have specialized degree in something but can do, Chinese people are quite practical and let you do it.)

On the personal side:- finding yuanfen and a partner here has also given me much happiness.

From your name and previous dating posts, I figure you're female. As said before in my experience, it can be more difficult for western women (automatic strong mianzi) to both find suitable chinese guys who aren't intimidated and land high level management positions. (Chinese big companies seem to think men are better suited to leadership).

The successful western women who have stayed usually have conversational to strong chinese skills, have found a open minded, humble chinese guy and work in teaching or trade or logistics (they can get their success from commissions rather than their position in the company). ( When I say teaching it might be they have started their own school, or work in an international school that pays $30,000 a year) So could still be very successful. Learning chinese also gives you confidence to try new things on your own and question things that are going on. How is your Chinese language?

Also at the 3 year mark, disappointed at my part-time chinese classes. I made the decision I wanted to stay in China awhile and became a full-time student for 3 years. (inculidng a UK MA degree) (sharing an apartment, eating cheap food, working nights). I think it was worth it. Think about if you need to invest the time to get the academic/professional level.

As lilongyue mentioned you will have to deal with friends leaving and making new friends. I don't make as many strong friends with the students at the univeristy as before for this reason. But then you find other groups of people who are also long term and cultivate those friendships. Also you find that people sometimes move to other parts of China like Shanghai and you can still keep up easily. I have 4 good friends still in the Nanjing area who i was good friends with as a full time student in Nanjing University in 2004.

As for kids, there are different schools with differring levels of exam pressure. You can find a chinese school which at least in the elementary level and middle school will be good. We plan on taking them to the US or Canada during highschool , as that will be less stress and provide them with a good preparation to get into a north american univerisity.

I made up a list of pro's and con's several times while staying here. I also weighted it if there were certain Pro's that really appealed to me. (Having the opportuinity to Learn languages, i.e. Chinese was big for me). It might not be for others. Several of my Nanda Uni classmates only have an intermediate level of Chinese and is the same or worse than when they graduated I would say. But they have fine good lifestyles (with long term girl friends and stable jobs).

It is a personal decision. Make your list, figure what are the important issues and goals in your life and whether China is a part of that. China will continue to prosper for at least another 5-10 years easy. My job at the moment doesn't pay as much as others but the company is in a growth phase and could become quite successful in the next few years. If I get offered an incredible job at an embassy or Western University I might move but for now it suits me.

Anyway although I rambled somewhat, I hope you can ask yourself the same questions and come to a saftisfactory decision. Also remember if you stay now, and you can still change your mind and go back later. Or go back to the US for 3-6 months see if it suits and then come back. Just be happy with the reason you made the decesion and then you will have no regrets.

Good luck with your decision,

Have fun,

Simon:)

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Simon,

Thanks for posting your informative thoughts on being a long-term expat. In the past, I had posted a salary thread to gauge how much foreigners here are making and find it quite surprising that you are earning only 10K per year. (US $ correct?) If you're like me, you made the wrong choice of finding a job after you arrived to China. In other words, I think that once a company knows that you must be here for a girlfriend, etc., then they will not give you the full expat salary.

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I have been in China for 1.5 years

I can seem to bring myself to leave

Why is that? What are the things which draw you here? I think you need to ask yourself what it is you plan to accomplish in your life/career. What are you doing now? Are you a student?

I think that many "fresh arrivals" have romantic notions about living here long-term. I personally feel that it is not as easy as it sounds. Sure, from an economic standpoint there are few barriers, but there are also a lot of social pressures that foreigners have to deal with. As has been discussed previously, China does not recognize dual citizenship and it is very difficult to get PR status here, which makes one question one's role here.

Of course, you might not mind being a "permanent guest" of this nation. But one thing that cannot be argued is if you do end up staying here, it will put a strain on your relationship with your family and friends back home.

(btw I might want to have a child in the next few years, kinda worried about what sort of education my child would get here (memorizing stuff, no creative thinking etc)

also individuality discouraged etc)

This is a common stereotype which may have had some truth behind it in the past, but I think there are a lot of changes occuring on the education front as well. I'd actually be more worried about the health care over here. Also, it's common practise here to abort fetuses that show signs of serious medical conditions - now it's up to you whether or not to do so, there may be less facilities in place to care for these afflicted infants/children and as the parent you'll also have to deal with a lot of negative attitudes. Hopefully you'll never be faced with this decision, but what you will have to worry about is your own health. There are many here that are able to and willing to pay for western-standard health care, and the government seems committed to improving the public hospitals as well.

Simon brings up a lot of good points, and as someone who's been here longer than I, it also gave me some things to think about. But regarding RMB appreciation, I'll have to counter that point with high inflation. With 15-20% annual increases in food and housing costs, you're not going to save as much unless your salary keeps up. If you have financial obligations back home (such as student loans), then I'd get those settled first before moving here long-term. That is, unless you are able to land that expat dream job.

I think that once a company knows that you must be here for a girlfriend, etc., then they will not give you the full expat salary.

If you're implying that being an expat automatically entitles you to an expat salary, then I kindly disagree. Sure, it may give them some bargaining advantage if they know that you've decided to settle here long-term, but in the end they will pay you what they think you are worth to them.

And I almost forgot - but if you do stay, make sure you learn the language well. This is one thing that I need to work on too.

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Maybe...

- Go home for a holiday. A long one, of at least a month or so. See all your friends and family, and maybe take a look at the job market.

- Go back to your old life in China.

- You now can compare the two. If you are now determined to leave China right away, your question is answered: go home and be happy. If you still want to be in China, decide to stay for another year, or two (set a time limit). Make sure you spend that time working, not studying, since studying is not the real life. (I think that in another thread you wondered if you could ever find a guy in China, to be the father of your planned children. That's also something to find out during this time.) When you're committed to stay for at least another year, you can stop living out of a suitcase and settle down a bit.

- After that time is up, consider all factors and make a decision.

I was in a similar situation, and am planning to leave soon. Been moving back and forth for the past five years. I can't keep moving like this, but it's so hard to decide where to settle down. But now I've decided to go back home (for various reasons) and stay there for at least 3 years. Good luck with your decision.

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To me, this whole issue also ties into the ongoing thread about visa difficulties. In most countries, once you've been there a while, you can pretty much stay indefinitely (either on a "permanent leave to remain" type visa or by becoming a citizen).

China doesn't seem to allow this, so you could happily be working for a few years and then, when you leave your job (or maybe you're an artist who's been selling paintings in 798 since it opened) suddenly find yourself being deported.

In other words, for your average ex-pat, China is somewhere to study, or work, or explore; it's not somewhere to settle down and live. And, maybe because I'm older, the idea of working in a country where you can save so little money (in Sterling terms) means returning to the UK after a few years could be difficult.

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I wanted to respond to a couple of posts.

only 10K per year. (US $ correct?) If you're like me, you made the wrong choice of finding a job after you arrived to China.

Hi ABCinChina. I guess making the wrong choice is a relevant term. The job I have while at times stressful, has many opportunities for growth in improvement in Chinese, through increased vocabulary and interpretation opportunities. 10K RMB a month may not be all that much in Shanghai, but in Nanjing it can go quite far and even have some left over for saving or paying down the mortgage. Also perhaps it's because Nanjing is a 2nd tier city but I do have the feeling that there are much fewer companies providing the "expat package" to expats to work in China. Much more are turning to Local hires of Chinese with good english skills or Expats already living in China who will work at almost Chinese salaries. So I am not sure if I went for the work in the US for 3-4 years and try to get transfered to China on an expat package pay grade that it would work if the jobs were not available.

Yes money is big, but having a stable job, actually using your Chinese and business skills in your job are also things that make a job good. If you goal is not necessarially to keep your US/UK employability for after 5 years. This is a good deal.

"Lower stress than USA"

Certain places and jobs have more stress in China than others. But by in large most chinese companies do have overtime most weeks (which happens in the US). There are nap time breaks after lunch. Shanghai and BJ subway can be crowded during rush hour, but it can take you to most places in the city, riding a bike you usually have bike lanes so you are not competing with cars for space. So commuting doesn't seem such a hassle.

Many teachers live on the school campus or next to it in housing provided by the school

The cost of living and labor is relatively cheap. So when a faucet breaks or you need to repair something (an you know who to call, or speak chinese) you can get workmen to fix it that day for 50-200 yuan. Almost nothing on the labor. compare this with france which has to have a workman come and you're lucky to get something fixed in 3 weeks. The US has better service but the costs are still high. UK has polish plumbers, they're hardworking.

Also with Stress are the issues of Safety.

The only guns ever see are shotguns of armored truck guards. (I was told once they only have one round so if the gun is stolen it can't be used for bad purposes.) I have walked home drunk plenty of times at 2 am and felt safe. (I have seen bar fights but it has usually had alcohol involved with at least one if not both parties) My bicycle has been stolen once or twice but it was due to the immigrants returning home before the spring festival and replacement bikes are 300 yuan. I have been lost in several Chinese cities several times, back when I couldn't speak chinese and now when I can and felt safe.

Most rules and ways of doing things are practical. There are often exceptions, and if you have a better idea of doing something chinese people are generally open to new ways of doing things.

Yes china can be a noisy place and this along with bad weather or smog can be stressful at times. But noise is something you can get used to I have found.

In most countries, once you've been there a while, you can pretty much stay indefinitely (either on a "permanent leave to remain" type visa or by becoming a citizen).

The exceptions to this being if you final a spouse in china you can stay here indefinitely, or if you invest and start a large company ($100,000 I think) you can stay. Also you can get a stable job that will renew your visa each year. I have known teachers who have been on Z visa for 5+ years, a couple at just one or two schools and others who and stopped and changed but always lived in China. There will still be a continued demand for native speaker english teachers for awhile to come. It is respected and paid as a worthwhile job in relative terms in China.

If after 4 or 5 years you do have a plan to get either a stable profession, or fulfillment in your personal life (i.e. partner, activity), that is something you should look at . These are the two things that give most people their significance life. The profession or spouse can provide visa.

China is like other countries which make you get a substantial job to provide you with a visa. In the UK they give Chinese students a year longer to stay in the UK to find such a job , but at the end of the two years they must get that good full time job. The US also is a stickler on H1 visas to make immigrants show that no other American can do the job you will be getting before you get the visa. Though if you have started a company with sizable investment they are more flexible . A rich chinese friend thought of buying a gas station in the US for $200,000 to get this investment green card after a few years, so his kid would be able to go to university in the US easily. (The price of oil went up and so did the price of gas stations it seems).

I know in Shanghai there is a distinct group of expats you bounce from free lance job to free lance job, usually speak very little chinese and don't set down roots. I used to envy them but don't anymore.

I wonder if after say after 4 years you can't find a significant other or a stable job that can give you a Z visa, perhaps the re-evaluation of where you are going is a good thing. In the ground-hog day life of china expats, shouldn't one have a goal to work towards or a family to give yourself meaning. Instead of waiting for that loaded Godot Expat package which are rare and will never come these days compare the quality of life you have and will have with that of what you would have if you went home.

There are very few expats who don't have high quality of life in China in my opinion. So then the Maslow higher issues of personal life, professional improvement are the questions you should ask yourself, not what is my chinese salary in dollars.

Again I may have rambled but I hope you grasp my meaning.

Simon:)

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The exceptions to this being if you final a spouse in china you can stay here indefinitely, or if you invest and start a large company ($100,000 I think) you can stay.

If you marry a Chinese National, after 5 years you can apply for Chinse PR ("green card"). However, it's my impression that it's not as easy as it sounds - you can apply for PR, but I've heard of very few people actually being granted it. It would seem that the rich entrepreneurs have a better chance at getting it.

I wonder if after say after 4 years you can't find a significant other or a stable job that can give you a Z visa, perhaps the re-evaluation of where you are going is a good thing. In the ground-hog day life of china expats, shouldn't one have a goal to work towards or a family to give yourself meaning. Instead of waiting for that loaded Godot Expat package which are rare and will never come these days compare the quality of life you have and will have with that of what you would have if you went home.

Well said simonlaing - I totally agree!

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The exceptions to this being if you final a spouse in china you can stay here indefinitely,

"Final a spouse" sounds so depressing ;) Anyway, I would have thought many people who go to China are either already partnered or aren't going to get a Chinese wife/husband. I know it is possible, but I was really referring to some mythical "average ex-pat" when I said you would never really feel like you belong.

There will still be a continued demand for native speaker english teachers for awhile to come

Is that a life-long career for many people, or just a way to spend a short bit of time in a foreign country while getting paid? Surely, people would want to do that for a year or two, quit, and then get a different job. Of course, again, I'm generalising and for someone who wants to be a teacher, then great. But ... you still need to keep finding jobs with Z visas, right? You can't work for, say, 5 years and then do what you like. What happens if you wanted to take a few months off to chill out and watch the Olympics?

In the UK they give Chinese students a year longer to stay in the UK to find such a job , but at the end of the two years they must get that good full time job.

I'm aware of this, and this is simply due to the huge number of Chinese students currently studying (and funding the Universities!) in the UK. The difference is that once you get a job, after a few years you get a "permement leave to remain" visa and can then do what you like; including applying to become a British citizen.

The profession or spouse can provide visa.

Many people would want to feel settled in a place before securing a visa with either of those means. That would be the second step, rather than having to quickly get married, or get stuck teaching (apologies to those who love it), before being able to start to settle.

I'm not an ex-pat; just voicing my opinions as always ;)

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I agree with a lot of what people have said about living as an expat, if speaking in general terms about life abroad. However, I agree with adrianlondon about living long term in China. I seem to be in the minority about this, at least on this forum, but I still believe there are a lot of uncertainties in China's future that seriously need to be taken into consideration if one is really planning to live here for the next 20, 30 or 40 years. A friend of mine who has had a long relationship with China - lived in Taiwan and Hong Kong for many years, has traveled all over China, has around 15 published books of Chinese-English translations under his belt - put it best a short time ago when he said he didn't feel that China was secure enough for him to buy a house, that the rue of law hadn't been established in the Mainland. As his wife is Taiwanese, he is going to be buying some land in Taiwan soon. He went on to add that as the rule of law has been established in Taiwan, meaning one has realistic legal recourse (even against the government) should there be problems, he feels secure enough to buy land there. Of course, he's still doing it the smart way, using connections he has to get extra insurance should anyone try and make trouble for him, even with a legal right to own land in Taiwan.

This thread is veering in the direction of another thread where people started talking about rights acquired through marriage to a Chinese citizen. Someone posted a link to some website with some things in Chinese about what foreigners are entitled to, claiming it was the same as what foreigners married to Taiwanese are entitled to. But as I said in that post, which was overlooked and was my main point, the important difference is that in Taiwan you can buy LAND, which you will never be able to buy here in China. Also, as the government can do pretty much anything it wants to (we don't live in a democracy where rights are respected, remember people?), there's no guarantee that if things ever go bad you won't loose your house, or company. If law here in China is . . . er . . . "flexible" enough to overlook all the foreigners going to Hong Kong and getting business visas with nothing but dubious credentials, and then also flexible enough for the government to make sweeping changes regarding that policy, sending hundreds of foreigners packing, some things written on a website (even if a government one) don't amount to diddly. And that's really what this comes down to, isn't it? Regardless of whether or not the law is "written" down, either officially or on a website, if it suits the government to ignore it or just openly break it they will. I don't think anyone here needs to be reminded of how corrupt this country is, do they? And what do you think your own country can do should you have a problem as large as to cause you to loose your home? I remember calling my embassy after being attacked by two Chinese men in a bar. My right eye was black-and-blue and swollen shut, I had 11 stitches in my head, and other bruises all over my body. We knew who attacked me, had their names, had already spoken with one of the men. You know what the woman at my embassy told me? "Well, China is very corrupt, you know . . . there's not much we can do. Do you know anyone who can help you?" Thank god I did, someone with pretty high guanxi, and so the guilty party was recognized as being guilty, as they were trying to spin it around and say that it was my fault. I was also awarded a cash settlement, which I would have never gotten where it not for my friend and his guanxi. The mighty American embassy was useless.

Don't forget that there are many countries all over the world where foreigners have invested a lot of money, started businesses, had homes and families, and then due to a problem like war lost it all. I know a woman who lost 12 years of her life, her restaurant, and around $50,000 USD after a coup in Africa sent her running for her life. She had survived through a few coups already, but this time the men who showed up at her door with machine guns and told her to leave, and to leave right now, wouldn't be giving back her restaurant.

There are some really serious things to consider specifically about life in China. Does anyone know about the massive water shortage crisis that China is heading towards? How about the 700,000 a year killed by pollution? We don't even honestly know the true state of the Chinese economy, as there's rumored to be massive imbalances caused by poor banking practices that have been covered up. Global natural resources were already drying up before China's development started, and it's development itself is causing the remaining resources to be consumed at an ever increasing rate. Read about the 10 year food shortage were in the beginning of? One of the causes is simply that Chinese are eating more. In Jared Diamond's book "Collapse" he states a frightening statistic. He says that if China attains 1st world status, the demand of global resources will double. The standard of living enjoyed by Americans and Europeans is already unsustainable, and in "Collapse" Diamond says he have about 50 years left of enjoying that 1st world lifestyle before it runs out. Now, some people won't believe this, some people still don't believe in global climate change, but if it's true, what I'm asking myself is how are Chinese going to react when governments start making grabs at the remaining natural resources? Chinese are quick to blame foreigners for their problems, and in some cases they're right, so when it looks like foreigners are getting in the way of China's "fazhan!" what's going to happen? Looking at very real problems in the near future, I'm worried about what's going to happen when Chinese figure out that it's mostly massive, multi-national corporations responsible for the 700,000 dead each year, as well as long term damage to their land and water, due to pollution. If you read any of the foreigner hate mail that was circulating on QQ or wireless phone networks not long ago you can see that some people are already figuring it out. The earthquake did a pretty good job of diverting people's attention from those issues stirred up by the Olympic torch fiasco, but what will be the Chinese response to foreigners stupid enough to try the same sorts of trick in Beijing during the Olympics?

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I tend towards liyongyue's point of view, though not so extreme. There's a potential for sudden changes in the political / social climate which mean that no matter how settled I was here I would always want to know where my passport was and have enough money for a last plane ticket out. Getting visas is problematic and it's not hard to imagine - say a couple of high-profile crimes committed by foreigners leading to public outcry - a situation where that becomes more difficult and intrusive. Sure, you can make things easier by perhaps opening a business or getting married - but even then, your tenure here could be thrown into question by something as mundane as bankruptcy or divorce.

There's no great surprise though - I'm not sure there are any countries that throw open their doors and invite foreigners to make their homes there without jumping through considerable hoops. And things can go wrong anywhere - cars crash, houses burn, business fail. Get on with life, but I certainly aim to keep insurance in one form or another.

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Life's decisions are full of risks, but these risks can sometimes result in great rewards.

While I agree that there are a lot of uncertainties and risks associated with living here long-term (and which I briefly mentioned in my previous post), I would argue that things aren't necessarily that much "safer" in Taiwan. As China grows stronger - economically, politically, and militarily - this is going to place even more pressures on Taiwan. And with the impending demise of the western powers alluded to by lilongyue, this will only strengthen China's political influence.

I think "worst case" is that Taiwan will become an SAR, much like HK and Macao. This may not seem so bad at first, but will HK lose its right to self-governance after 2052? Only time will tell...

Anyways, to try to bring this back on topic, the decision to move abroad is not a small one. It's best to re-evaluate this from time to time, and I agree with Roddy in that you should also have a contingency plan in case things don't work out as expected.

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