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Moving to China

Many expatriates don’t know what to expect when they arrive in China, and rightly so. A mere 4,831 miles away from the United Kingdom, things have got to be different, right? While there will be some degree of culture shock in China, many expatriates who have taken the plunge and moved to this incredible country have found that they do in fact have a lot in common with Chinese people, so it’s nothing to lose sleep over. Here at Santa Fe Relocation, we’re taking a closer look at how to avoid culture shock in China.


Meeting and greeting in China is a little different to many other countries around the world, so you’re likely to see a difference here no matter which country you currently call home. While many people say “ni hao”, meaning “hi”, to show additional respect, you should say “nin hao” which is a politer “hello”. You should also keep in mind that while you might shake hands to greet someone at home, this isn’t a common practice in China. However, Chinese people are generally friendly and hospitable, and so if you do happen to slip up, it’s not the end of the world!

Dress code

On a day-to-day basis, Chinese citizens dress in Western clothes. Apart from big celebrations or festivals, it’s not as common as people think when it comes to finding traditionally dressed people. Despite this, China does have different dress codes from other countries and so it’s important to understand what is suitable to wear, for all occassions. Those that appear to be unkempt may not be allowed to access certain places such as the Xian. Here, all visitors are required to wear formal clothes such as a dress or tailored suit.


For many expatriates, the language barrier in China is a big challenge to overcome and there is more than one reason for this. While learning Chinese Mandarin can be hard enough, in some rural areas of China, people can’t even speak Mandarin, and even though young people in China are encouraged to learn English nowadays, the Chinese education system provides few opportunities for them to use it. This means that even though many will be able to understand simple phrases, it’s not uncommon for many to not speak English, and other languages such as Spanish may be even more unfamiliar.


If that isn’t enough to get your head around, consider time. Luckily, there’s only one official time zone in China; GMT+8. However, in reality, China stretches over a number of different time zones, and in certain provinces away from Beijing, it’s said that two version of time exist.

When making appointments, it’s important to keep the likelihood of traffic jams and road conditions in mind, because much like across the rest of the world, it’s difficult to predict exactly how long it will take you to get from A to B.


Religion isn’t as popular in China as it is in other parts of the world, and it’s more common to find religious people in the rural areas of China than in the heart of the city. Those who are religious however, are mainly Muslim or Buddhist, although you can find small groups of Christians in larger cities. Despite being one of the less religious countries, many locals attend Buddhist temples to pray for their families during popular celebrations such Chinese New Year (Spring Festival).

At Santa Fe Relocation, we strive to make moving to China as easy as possible. With the help of our experts, you can be confident that you will have a seamless move, and one you can remember for all the right reasons. Contact us to find out how we can assist your move to China, today.

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