If you’ve ever had to move when you were a child, when you went to college or wanted to start a family, you’ll know how stressful and disorientating it can be.
Now imagine you’re thinking about teaching in China with a family, needing to relocate to a foreign country leaving behind all your roots and connections.
It’s natural to feel anxious or overwhelmed, but with careful planning and consideration, the transition can be a smooth one for both you and your family.
Still undecided? Our post on whether teaching in China is still worth it might help you to make that decision.
There are several important factors to consider if you’re thinking about teaching in China with a family.
Top of the list will be ensuring their wellbeing and happiness.
Consider the impact on your family
Moving to a new country can be challenging, especially with children in tow.
Weigh up their emotional, social, and educational needs before making the final decision.
If you’re going to be teaching in China with a family, you want everyone to share their thoughts and feelings before you decide. Have an open and honest discussion with them about the potential move.
Address any issues at that stage to make the transition smoother for everyone involved.
Choosing the right location for your new home
Employers in China often provide free accommodation close to their schools.
Their offer is usually tailored to a family’s needs, for example a family of four will be accommodated in a suitable apartment or given a larger allowance to select an appropriate living space.
With a housing stipend, you’ll receive a sum in addition to your salary to help cover housing costs.
Finding suitable housing that meets your family’s needs and budget can be stressful and time-consuming.
Make it a little easier by researching the location and identifying schools for your children, accessibility to the city, and how connected the area is with public transport.
If it’s financially viable, why not make a visit to the area? You can get hands-on experience of your future home, and schedule meetings with real estate agents, school administrators and maybe even the local expat community.
Moving to a new city means leaving behind established social networks and friends, and it can be difficult to start again with building relationships from scratch. This can be particularly challenging for children who are shy or introverted, and it could even affect their mental wellbeing.
Access to a city will allow them to engage in activities or classes so they can enjoy existing hobbies and passions and perhaps strike up new friendships through shared interests.
This can significantly improve their experience of moving across the globe, and help them to settle in. Top of Form
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Ensuring your family’s health
As an expat teaching in China with a family, access to comprehensive health care is a crucial aspect of planning.
All leading schools in China offer international health policies that cover you and your entire family, both inside and outside of the country.
These policies offer comprehensive coverage including medical emergencies and regular doctor visits.
An international policy can also be a source of security when you or your family travel for vacations or back to your home country.
It’s important to do your research and ask questions about the health care options available to you when you decide on teaching in China with a family.
Make sure you fully understand the coverage and benefits provided by any health insurance policy, and consider factors like deductibles, co-pays, and out-of-pocket expenses.
What about babysitters or day-care options?
It’s not unusual to occasionally incur overtime at work, whether it’s additional paperwork or emergency meetings, for example.
But if you’re teaching in China with a family, who is going to mind your children while you’re busy at work?
Many expat families in China employ an ‘aunty’ or an ‘ayi’, which is a domestic helper who can not only take care of your children but also speak to them in Mandarin and help with household chores.
In China, the role of an ayi is highly valued because they provide a valuable service for expat families. They assist with everything from cooking and cleaning to laundry, grocery shopping and even cultural enrichment. They also help with childcare, feeding, changing, and playing with your children.
While an ayi can be an excellent option for day-care, there are other options to consider as well, such as day-care centres or hiring a nanny or babysitter. Compared to other countries, this service is relatively inexpensive in China, and you can easily find one through online platforms or expat forums.
Additionally, it’s recommended to have a written contract outlining their responsibilities, working hours, and compensation. It’s always better when details are clearly stated so everyone’s expectations are met.
Whatever you decide on, it’s essential that you do your research and check their references thoroughly. You’ll be leaving your child in their care for several hours a day, so you want someone you can fully trust while you’re at work.
Different family values and customs in China
Moving to a new country can mean encountering different cultural norms, languages, customs and, most importantly, food.
China and the Western world have distinct cultural values. In Asia, collective good is prioritised over an individual’s benefit, so doing things that go against cultural or societal norms are frowned upon. It’s essential to keep this in mind when deciding to relocate with your family, as you’ll encounter a whole new world of culture that you need to be mentally prepared for.
Thanks to the internet, social media, and established Chinese communities, you can begin to explore Chinese culture and gain an understanding of whether it’s right for you.
You can read books, watch documentaries, and take language or culture classes in your hometown. Learning about local customs and beliefs can help you better understand and respect them when you finally make the move.
Additionally, Chinese etiquette may differ from what you’re accustomed to in the UK.
Take time to understand social customs such as greetings, gift-giving, and dining etiquette to avoid unintentionally offending or disrespecting locals.
Family values are also crucial in Chinese culture, and you may find that families are more tightly knit than what you’re used to in the UK.
It’s worth learning about family traditions, customs, and values to better relate to and understand locals.
While most people in the city can speak some English, it becomes increasingly challenging to find English speakers in rural areas.
Though the people are generally warm and friendly wherever you go, learning some basic Chinese phrases can help you navigate daily life and make it easier to communicate, especially when you’re on the lookout for local cuisine.
Evaluate job opportunities
While preparing to start teaching in China with a family, don’t forget that if your partner is making the move with you, there are certain criteria for them to fulfil to find employment.
First, visa requirements.
You can read our post on the requirements to secure a Chinese teaching visa here.
But to give you an idea, a work visa (Z visa) is required to teach in China. All of INTA Education’s partner schools will provide assistance with this.
Additionally, your spouse or partner can apply for a dependent visa (S visa), which may or may not allow them to work depending on specific circumstances.
Get started on your visa applications early because these can take a while to be processed and validated, and any delays can put a wrench in your plans leading to unrecoverable financial losses like plane tickets or contractual obligations.
Once your documents are sorted and your partner is looking for a new position, research the job market in the industry and location in China. Some cities and industries may have more job opportunities and demand than others.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to contacts on professional networks like LinkedIn or Glassdoor that are in China to better understand the job market in that region.
Moving to a new country can be daunting, especially for families with children. If you’re considering a move to China, take into account the impact it will have on your family. Have open discussions and consider everyone’s needs before making that decision.
With everything said, teaching in China is an immensely rewarding and culturally enriching experience. If you’ve made your decision and are ready for the next step, get in touch with us today.
INTA Education was founded by Lydia and Will, two teachers with a passion for language and education.
With a wealth of first-hand experience teaching in Asia, we’re ready to help you at every stage of the application process, including securing your visa and taking your family to China with you.