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In this page: Communities of Expatriates | Ranking of Cities | Renting an Apartment | School System | Health System | Tourism and Culture | Individual and Civic Freedoms | Religion


Communities of Expatriates

The Number of Expatriates
The sixth national census revealed that a total of 593,832 foreigners are living on the Chinese mainland.
Press for expatriates (examples): That’s, Global Times, Asiaxpat, Geoexpat.
For Further Information
Moving to China (Expat Arrivals)
China Expat Society

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Ranking of Cities

Cost of Living
Major Chinese cities are now considered among the most expensive in the world.  Shanghai and Beijing are respectively ranked 7th and 10th most expensive cities in the world according to the Mercer Index 2016.
Quality of Life
Despite steep costs of living, the quality of living in China is significantly lower than in the West. Mercer's 2017 Quality of Living Survey ranks Shanghai 108th and Beijing 119th out of 231.
Sanitary Conditions
Close to international standards in the main cities. Can be more delicate in secondary cities.
For Further Information
Quality of Living Worldwide City Rankings –Survey - Mercer
Cost of Living Worldwide City Rankings –Survey - Mercer

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Renting an Apartment

Description of apartments
Real estate can be expensive in China and everything depends on the environment you want (local or more international).
An 80m² apartment costs 500 EUR/month. A similar sized apartment in a residential space for foreigners can cost 1000 to 3000 EUR/month.
Normal Lease Term
Usually, one year contract
Rental Costs
It is standard practice to collect guarantee of one or two months rent and the agency fees is 1/2 to 1 month's rent
Agencies or Private Rentals
You are recommended to go through an agency to ensure that you have a contract in the correct form (generally in Chinese).
Rental Agency Websites
Century 21
Private Rentals Announcements Online
Shanghai Serviced Apartments
Other Possibilities For Accommodation
Villa within compounds cost from 2000 to 10000 EUR/month

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School System

School Level
The Chinese school system includes day care centers, nursery schools, special schools for the deaf and dumb, "key schools", primary schools, secondary schools (including agricultural and professional schools), schools for teachers, technical schools and several institutions for higher education (general or specialized colleges and universities).
Since 1986, 9 years of schooling is compulsory. The medium of instruction in Chinese schools is Mandarin.
International Schools
There are many international schools in the big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Canton. The most common schools are English, American, French and German.

View the list of international schools in China

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Health System

Quality of Healthcare
The healthcare system in China is inadequate. Today, the press estimates that 20% of the people benefit from 80% of medical spending by the government. They are essentially civil servants and employees of state-owned companies. Re-use or poor sterilisation practices are problems in China, contributing to transmission of diseases.
International Hospitals
Western-style medical facilities with international staff are available in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and a few other large cities. Many other hospitals in major Chinese cities have so-called VIP wards (gaogan bingfang) with good equipment and English-speaking staff. More information is available at the following websites: World Clinic  and China Expat Health.
Health Insurance
Accessibility of the Health Insurance Network to Foreigners
Yes, but only in government hospitals. In Shenzhen, all the employing entities hiring foreign individuals should register the foreign individuals for the local social insurance scheme.

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Tourism and Culture

Different Forms of Tourism

While Modern China has grown and expanded exponentially, there are still many sites dating back to ancient China.

Some examples of well-preserved ancient cities include Pingyao (in central Shanxi) and Lijiang (in Yunnan). Built in the Song Dynasty, Pingyao has many stone bridges, arches and homes dating back centuries, making it a great location for visitors wishing to study China’s architectural history.

China offers many museums and temples for those interested in cultural tourism.

Notable examples include: Tienanmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall.

Options abound for natural tourism in China, ranging from rugged mountains to serene valleys.

China’s Five Sacred Mountains: Tài Shān, Huà Shān, Héng Shān (Shanxi), Héng Shān (Hunan) and Sōng Shān.

Gorgeous valleys can be found in southwestern China, including Jiuzhaigou which runs over 40km through mountains, lakes, waterfalls and forest.

Three Gorges of the Yangtze River (Qutang, Wu and Xiling).

Many Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian temples. Notable examples include the Shaolin Temple in Henan (the birthplace of Chinese Zen Buddhism and known for its Shaolin Kung Fu martial arts) and Mount Emei (dotted with numerous ancient Buddhist temples and structures).
There are few European-style spas in China.
Hainan island, Sanya and the city of Qingdao in the Shandong province all offer spectacular beaches.
Winter Sports
Winter sports are not yet very well developed in China.
Outdoor Activities
Big department stores and shopping malls are being built all over the country. Western brands are established in the main Chinese cities. Markets such as Xiushui street and the antique market Panjiayuan in Beijing are good places to buy souvenirs.
Tourism Organisations
Travel China Guide
Cultural Organizations
State cultural heritage administration

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Individual and Civic Freedoms

Political Freedom
The country's administrative climate is less restrictive compared to the past since its economic liberalisation.
Civil Liberty
World Ranking of Freedom of the Press According to "Reporters sans Frontières", 2021 report : 177/180
Rule of Law
Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights
Women's Condition
Women enjoy the same status of equality as men, but discrimination in recruitment is widespread.
For Further Information
Refer to the webpage on Internet and press freedom in China from Reporters without Borders

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Degree of Freedom
Quite considerable
The Chinese are generally atheists. That being said, Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism are relatively widespread amongst senior citizens and attract a part of the well-to-do class today. There are also Christian and Muslim minorities.
Role of Religion in Society
The present government continues to profess atheism: only atheists can become members of the Party. But, to make the people accept the regime, and have it recognized by the international community, the leaders have had to show a certain amount of tolerance towards religious practices.

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Latest Update: June 2023