So, your adventures in China have come to an end. The question looming over your head is “Where do I go next?” This can be a daunting prospect for some, as there are many things you need to consider before taking the next step. But fear not, here are a few tips to help you figure out where to live and what to do after working in China.
Making a plan is probably the best way to start, but every plan needs to begin with “What do I want?” — a basic way of establishing your priorities. Some ideas to toss around are the type of job you want, whether you want to go home or continue to live abroad, a long-term or short-term commitment, a place with language-barriers or not, a big city or more rural location, etc. Once you identify your priorities in these areas, figuring out where to move is a whole lot easier.
I suggest writing down your priorities and searching for places that have everything you’re looking for. Let’s say you want a job in media, you prefer big cities, you don’t want a language barrier, and you’re keen on cold weather. That would immediately put you north of the equator, and due to not wanting a language barrier, probably somewhere in the UK, the US, or Canada. Further defining your priorities can you help you figure out exactly where you should go.
Putting aside where you want to live and focusing on where you’re marketable can prove to be a lucrative strategy. If you’ve been working in China for a while, you’ve probably been learning the language and acquiring skills unique to the country. The question now is “Where is my China experience the most valuable?”
Depending on what industry or field you want to go into, your experience in China could be one of your strongest assets – bonus points if you speak the language and are HSK certified. To help understand your worth better, write down what skills you’ve learnt while working in China and how those could be useful in different countries and careers.
Sometimes, the best choices are the ones that fall right into our lap. Instead of actively trying to figure out where to move, start talking to those in your China network, let them know you are planning to leave China, and tell them you’re open to opportunities. More often than not, someone in your circle will be able to put you in touch with so-and-so in another country who just so happens to be looking for someone with your skillset.
At the very least, you have a new contact, and if things don’t work out with them, maybe they’ll know somewhere you’d be better suited. I believe if you put something out there, you’ll get a response and, although it might not happen as you expected, things will work out in the end.
If you don’t know where to go or what to do after working in China, that’s perfectly okay. Instead of getting down on yourself, think of it as a giant opportunity to explore. Go live in Germany for a year, try that job in Brazil you’ve always wanted to do, or throw a dart at a map and go from there. There’s nothing wrong with being spontaneous.
For example, if you get a job offer somewhere outside of China, it coincides with when your current contract will finish, and you don’t see any real reason to say no, then go for it! Playing it safe and spending months and months vigorously searching for the “perfect” job can be beneficial, but it often leads to frustration and a mentality that nothing good enough will ever come along. Instead, take the opportunity right in front of you and make the best of it.
Maybe you’re thinking about leaving China, but maybe what you need is simply a change of scenery. China is booming with opportunities, both for study and work, and there are tons of different cities with various cultures and customs for you to explore.
If the pollution and rat race of big cities has finally done you in, why not check out Yunnan or Suzhou for a slower and more tranquil lifestyle? On the other hand, if you’re having a hard time meeting people and things are just too quiet for you, now is a great time to make the leap to Shanghai, Guangzhou, or Beijing to see what some of the biggest cities in China have to offer.
Things will never be the same after working in China, and neither will your future. Choosing where to live after China can be daunting, but even more so, it’s exciting. You get to control your future, and it’s you who will write the next chapter of your life.
So, follow the tips above and make the right decision for you. For readers who are planning to leave or have already left China, what factors did you use to figure out where to go? Let us know in the comments!
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