• Beijing
  • Shanghai
  • Guangzhou
  • Shenzhen
  • 2nd and 3rd tier cities
  • The national language of China is Mandarin (official). Many other dialects are spoken.

  • Population of China is approximately 1.3 billion.

  • Han Chinese make up the majority of China's population (91.9%). Zhuang, Uygur, Hui, Yi, Tibetan, Miao, Manchu, Mongols, Buyi, Korean, and other nationalities make up the remaining 8.1%. The population of China’s capital, Beijing, is about 19 million people (1 in 4 are migrant workers), with 95.7% of the Han nationality, and 4.3% of other ethnic minorities such as Hui, Manchus, Mongols, and Koreans etc. The population of Shanghai is more than 23 million people, with most of them of the Han nationality and with 1.2% of other ethnic minorities, such as Hui, Manchus, Mongols and so on.

  • Typical expatriate cities in China are Shanghai and Beijing.

  • Housing: Both Shanghai and Beijing have large concentrations of expatriates primarily living in apartments in the downtown areas, but with other options such as detached and semi-detached houses within compounds in the suburbs. Families with children tend to live in the suburbs to be close to the international schools. The standard lease term for renting is minimum 1 year, and a 2-month deposit is required. There are a number of serviced apartments available for temporary accommodation.

  • Schools: There are a number of International schools in both Beijing and Shanghai to choose from, catering for American, British, Singaporean, French, German and Canadian systems. Availability is an issue with many schools so it is essential to apply as early as possible. Outside these 2 cities, options for international schools are more limited.

  • Transportation: Taxis are the main form of transport for most expatriates. Car leases with drivers are common packages for most companies with expatriate employees since it is not recommended for expatriates to drive. The metro system is crowded but fast, efficient and quite extensive due to expansion for the Shanghai Expo 2010. The bus system is inexpensive and expansive but mainly for locals as there are no maps or route details in English.

  • Healthcare: There are now a number of western medical facilities in the major cities of Shanghai and Beijing, including United Family Hospitals, Parkway Health, International SOS, and Global Healthcare. These centres offer international standards and have overseas-trained, English-speaking doctors. The fees are extremely high therefore it is essential to have full medical coverage. For emergency hospital treatment there are still limitations as these international medical centres utilise local hospital facilities. There are ambulances, but they are not equipped in the same way as western countries and often take a long time to reach a destination.

  • Work permits and visas: For an expatriate to work in China, the foreign immigration policy requires a working visa and residence permit. The process for obtaining this depends on the set-up of the company and the location within China. For some cities it involves obtaining a work visa in the home country prior to arrival, then applying for residence permit soon after arrival. For others, it involves arriving with a single-entry, short-term work visa and applying for both the long-term work visa and residence permit upon arrival. In either case, a full health check is required. The visa is for a maximum of 1 year in duration and must be extended each year as required. The process usually takes 3 to 4 weeks and involves the preparation of many documents. It is essential to employ the services of an immigration expert to assist with this.

  • Banking and currency: Most banks are open from Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm, and some banks are open every day except for the national holidays. Individual banking service is available from Monday to Saturday. Company banking service is only available from Monday to Friday. 24-hour banking self-service is also available and ATMs are everywhere. The local currency is Renminbi (RMB)

• How do I go about organising a permanent car and driver for when we live here?
CS Mobility can assist you in arranging a car lease, providing quotes and options on car types and inclusions, and interviewing drivers (who often don't speak English). We will explain to you how the lease works, what you can expect from your driver, how to interact with him, his hours and overtime work.

• How do I open a bank account with multi-currencies? And can you set up a bank account for me?
Yes, as part of our Settling In programme, we assist you to set up required bank accounts, providing you with essential knowledge on the local banking system and limitations.

• How long will it take to get my visa, and can I arrange this prior to arrival, in particular my Health Check?
A Chinese visa and residence permit are required. Part or all of the process needs to be done in China after arrival. The process is quite involved and depends on the status of the company supporting you in China. Sometimes a health check outside of China is accepted, but not always. For further information, please contact our office.