The majority of foreigners in China are satisfied with life in China and want to stay in the country as long as possible, according to results of the most recent eChinacities.com survey. We received responses from more than a thousand foreigners in China via our online survey between Feb 5 and March 10 this year.
Photo:US State Department
The results show that of the 1,049 respondents, over 97 percent said they were "moderately" or "very" satisfied with their lives in China. When asked how long they planned to stay in the Middle Kingdom, one quarter of participants said "as long as possible", the most popular answer in the range.
Figure 1: Pie chart to show answers to question, "How satisfied are you with your life in China in general?
The majority of the participants (92 percent) were between the ages of 18 and 44. Foreigners from 153 different countries were interviewed, the the highest number (11.5 percent) hailing from the USA, followed closely by Britain (10.5 percent) and South Africa (6.8 percent). Almost one third (31 percent) have been in China for less than a year, 29 percent between one and two years, 22 percent between three and four years, and 18 percent for five years or more. The gender balance was split almost evenly between male and female.
Figure 2: Answers to question, "How long do you plan on staying in China?"
The 35 percent of expats who said they were "very satisfied" with their lives in China were asked to explain their reasons why. Many referenced the low cost of living, hospitable locals and good opportunities for career development.
"It [living in China] has challenged me to try new things and meet new people," said Ellie, a British woman studying in Beijing. "I also like the way things are done here and find life convenient (e.g good transport system, using Wechat/Alipay to pay)," she added, referencing China’s two major electronic payment systems.
More than 97 percent of those surveyed said they feel "Moderately" or "Very" welcome in China. When asked about their favorite aspects of life in the Middle Kingdom, the expats put "Safety" top, with more than 58 percent choosing it as one of multiple options. This was followed by "Travel opportunities" (48 percent), "Culture" (44 percent) and the "People" (42 percent).
Figure 3: Graph showing answers to question, "What do you like most about China?"
Respondents were also able to add their own entries, serving up some heartwarming results.
"My Chinese wife", said Andis, a Canadian English teacher in Jiangsu province. "Everything," wrote Asd, a Lybian studying and working in Beijing. "I love the feeling of taking it easy and not walking around with a constant fear of someone attacking me," said Cari, a South African studying in Hangzhou. "My anxiety has disappeared and I can't help but smile when I see a relaxed passenger asleep on public transportation."
Of course, the survey also probed into the pet peeves of expats, 58 percent of who ranked the "Lack of internet freedom" as their biggest grumble about living in China. That was followed by "Pollution" (51 percent) and "Manners" (36 percent).
Figure 4: Graph showing answers to question, "What do you dislike most about China?"
Those interviewed overwhelmingly listed "Language" as their biggest challenge, with 43 percent picking it as the hardest aspect of life in China.
Figure 5: Pie chart showing answers to question, "What has been the biggest challenge for you in China?"
However, 91 percent said they can speak at least "A little" Chinese, while more than 11 percent said they speak it "Fluently". Around 86 percent said they found it "Moderately easy" or "Easy" to integrate with locals, although more than 13 percent said they found it "Not at all" easy.
"The locals seem to be afraid of foreigners and often will not make the first move to talk to you, and they try their best to avoid you if you look like you want to talk to them," reported Summer, a British student living in Guangzhou.
That said, over 84 percent of interviewees said they socialize with a "Mixture of Chinese people and expats" or "mainly Chinese people", and only 10 percent rated their social life in China as "Poor". A resounding 84 percent also said they found it "Very" or "Moderately" easy to connect with the expat community in China.
Most of the respondents (86 percent) said they came to China originally for work or study. Ninety-four percent of the 445 people who said they came to China for work are currently employed. Just over a third (35 percent) of that group said they found their job by "Word of mouth", 30 percent cited "Job websites", such as eChinacities.com, and 23 percent listed agencies.
Figure 6: Pie chart showing the answers to question, "How did you find your job?
More than 97 percent of the currently employed group said it was "Not at all" difficult or "Moderately" difficult to find a job in China, while just 3 percent said it was "Very" difficult. In the latter category, many cited visa procedures, language barriers and the distinction between native and non-native English speakers as obstacles.
"The visa is a huge issue and foreigners have to go through hoops to get it," wrote Brian, an American teacher in Yunnan.
Twenty-three percent of those working in China said they accepted their current job to gain "Experience", as opposed to other factors, such as "Salary" (20 percent) and "Career advancement" (20 percent). Almost 93 percent said they are "Moderately" or "Very" satisfied with their current roles, while 7 percent said they are "Not at all" satisfied with their work situation.
"[I] almost need to work overtime everyday," said Erna, an Indonesian woman working in marketing in Guangdong.
In all, over half of the total respondents (57 percent) rated the career opportunities for foreigners in China as "Excellent" or "Good", followed by a third (33 percent) who rated them as "Okay" and 10 percent who rated them as "Poor".
Figure 7: Pie chart showing answers to the question, "How satisfied are you with your current job in China?
We would like to thank all the diverse and interesting foreigners in China who took our survey. As promised, four participants were chosen at random to receive the prize of 500 RMB each. You can find out who they are here. (If you haven't already heard from us, it's not you!)
We plan to do more surveys in the future (with more cash prizes), so keep it here!
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Keywords: life in China foreigners in China
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