Best Cities in China for Expat Living


Best Cities in China for Expat Living

With such a unique language and culture, some expats do struggle with integration when it comes to living in China. That being said, China is one of the top destinations among expats when it comes to living and working overseas.

Back in 2011 China stood at 19th on the HSBC Expat Economic league table (listing the most economically viable expatriate locations). Within a year the nation had risen to 7th on the table, and it’s continuing to climb.

Over two thirds of expats move to China because of employment opportunities, with over 53 percent looking for work in the financial sector, but the nation is also cited as offering a good all round expat experience.

However, despite all the things drawing expats to China, several recent reports have highlighted the heavy levels of pollution in the nation’s capital, Beijing, and stressed how the dangerous smog is driving Expats back home.

While the pollution in Beijing is most certainly a concern the city still has a huge amount to offer. Besides which, there are plenty of other cities to choose from so don’t let environmental fears put you off emigrating to China.

To give you an idea of which cities other expat’s enjoy living in we’ve put them in order of their desirability!

This ranking is based on a recent national survey, which sought to find the most desirable cities in China according to expatriated citizens.

The poll involved over 175,000 expats and foreigners employed in China, and didn’t include non-mainland metropolises like Hong Kong.

So which cities made the top ten?

1. Shanghai

As the fashionable financial centre of China, Shanghai is a hugely popular destination among expats. The city is famed for its multicultural environment and air of internationalism. Many foreign workers noted that they found Shanghai easier to acclimatise to than other areas of China.

2. Beijing

Even with the smog, Beijing was still voted the second best city to live in China by foreign workers. As well as exceptional transport links, Beijing has an outstanding working environment and offers a high standard of education of healthcare.

3. Shenzhen, Guangdong Province

As one of China’s Special Economic Zones, Shenzhen is known for its high salaries, attractive environment and promotion opportunities. The city isn’t as recommended for the standard of children’s education on offer however, so if you have little expat-lets this may not be the city for you.

4. Suzhou, Jiangsu Province

This ‘Venice of the Orient’ is an intriguing mix of canals, gardens and rivers. Not only is Suzhou a beautiful place to live, it also offers impressive employment opportunities for foreign workers.

5. Kunming, Yunnan Province

Although participants of the survey noted that healthcare and education standards in Kunming could be improved, the city is still a key economic and cultural centre of South West China. It also boasts a variety of important cultural institutions.

6. Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province

As well as being the cultural, political and economic hub of the Zhejiang Province, this city offers a high quality of life and more outdoor spaces than many of China’s larger cities. It also happens to be referred to locally as ‘Heaven on Earth’ which doesn’t make it sound too shabby!

7. Nanjing, Jiangsu Province

This exotic city in China’s east has a rich history behind it and offers expats a unique cultural experience. The majority of foreign workers surveyed also said that the city provided positive opportunities for career development.

8. Tianjin

As the fourth largest city in China, and the largest coastal city in the north of the country, Tianjin has lots to recommend it – particularly its working environment and healthcare standards.

9. Xiamen, Fujian Province

On the South East cost of China, Xiamen has a reputation as one of the most romantic cities in the country. Although wages for foreign workers are lower here than the national average, it’s also gained a reputation as a city which provides a strong entrepreneurial environment balanced by a good lifestyle.

10. Qingdao, South East Shandong Province

A stunning seaside city flanked by the Yellow sea which offers a high quality of living – particularly for expats with young families.

What’s your perspective? And are there any other Chinese cities you’d recommend to other expats?

The Expat Hub
This post was written by
If you’ve already moved abroad, if you’re in the process of moving abroad or if you’re only thinking about it, the Expat Hub is here for you. For expatriates looking for advice, support and information, we’re the number one online stop.