Moving to China Checklist – 2018

china checklist

If you’re moving to China for a year or more, you’d better bring the essentials.

This my updated China Checklist with all the items I would recommend you bring. Note that you will still be able to find some of these items in the country. I just feel that having these things will make your conversion into China life from the West much smoother.

Smart Phone – iPhone, Android, or Windows phone. After you get into the country, you can buy a China Unicom SIM card for local service. I advise you buy a phone before you get to China to cut costs. Before you arrive you can also download the air quality index app from
You’ll be able to monitor pollution levels in your target city.

Understand that using your smart phone in China might not be as simple as I’m describing it here. You could run into compatibility issues and there are other things you need to account for. I recommend you read up on this very good article on the topic.

Subscribe to a VPN – What is a Virtual Private Network? A VPN is a server that allows you to sidestep the Chinese firewall that keeps China’s citizens from accessing foreign-hosted propagators of information such as Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.

If you want to access these sites you need a VPN service. I have been using StrongVPN since I’ve been in China and it still works for me to this day. Just realize that there will be some days when you simply can’t connect and there’s nothing that can be done about it.

china checklist

3M Dust Masks – Might want to bring along a pack of these for when pollution levels are too high. If you can find more fashionable or comfortable solutions, bring those instead.

Deodorant – You should be able to find deodorant in China, but there doesn’t seem to be very many different kinds of effective antiperspirant. If you have a favorite brand (like a stick antiperspirant), you might want to bring a fair amount, as it only products available in China seem to be roll-ons and sprays.

Laptop or Tablet Computer – Contrary to what some may believe, China isn’t exactly swimming in cheap tech, despite being the place where most of this technology is manufactured. You can get a cheaper, higher-quality computer in the West, so snag a one before you go. Don’t worry about the authorities trying to scope your adult data. They don’t care.

Learn About Bitcoin – To easily send money home, or to withdrawal money from your domestic bank accounts without incurring huge fees, you might want to study up on Bitcoin. Open an account on Coinbase and Local Bitcoins and learn your way around.

china checklist

Floss – Personally I prefer the kind that comes in a roll as opposed to those plastic frames with a length of floss in the prongs. If you’re like me, you might want to bring plenty of your own. I don’t know why rolls of floss are difficult to find in China. It might stem from a cultural aversion to having their fingers in their mouths.

Antacids – Snag a few containers of chewable Tums. You’re gonna need them and you probably won’t find them anywhere in China.

Imodium – You will get the runs in China as your body adjusts to the different microbes. I guarantee it. It doesn’t help that when many foreigners come to the country they gorge themselves on too much alcohol, spicy food, and oily, greasy shit. Do yourself a favor and bring along a few boxes of anti-diarrheal medicine. And drink plenty of water.

Get Your Shots – This isn’t exactly “something to pack” but I still think it warrants mentioning. Before you leave for China, make sure you get vaccinated for possible health risks in the region you’re going to go to. I went to a place called Passport Health where they monitor health information from around the globe and sell you vaccinations for possible illnesses depending on the region.

china checklist

Take note, this service is very expensive. You will be thanking yourself though, once you get to China and the people who didn’t pay for all their shots get deathly ill while you carry on healthy as a horse:

Bring a Wardrobe – Clothes aren’t much less expensive in China and I have found the quality to typically be lacking; pants and jackets fall apart after only a few months. Also, if you’re tall, good luck finding items in your size. To help you think about what kind of clothes you might need, included here is a list of what I believe makes up a complete wardrobe with the essential items you’ll need to live comfortably:

Suit of some kind: Trust me, you’ll want to bring one. You might get approached to be on television or get invited to a banquet with Chinese government officials. I’m not joking.
Peacoat or Trenchcoat: Something you can wear over your suit.
A few pairs of jeans
A windbreaker
A couple pairs of slacks or dress pants
Track pants
Dress shoes
A few ties
Holdall or Briefcase – Don’t want to be walking around with a backpack, do you?
Wife beaters or White T’s
Thermal Underwear – a couple pairs of tops and bottoms
A few button-down shirts
White collared shirt
Boxers or Underwear

And there you have it! Is there anything else you think I should’ve included in this list, but didn’t? Please leave a comment below.

China: The Based Bachelor’s Guide: How to Build a Successful Life in China

Struggling in the Middle Kingdom? You need the Based Bachelor’s Guide

When I first came to China, I lost direction for a while. While teaching English, I was eagerly looking for employment to put my business education to use. I believe my asking salary was too high because every time I had an interview, they hired a Chinese person instead.

Based Bachelor GuideBeing a little disenchanted with my failure to secure more gainful employment, I started to get into a bit of a funk for a while, playing video games and gaining weight. I went through a few failed relationships in the East, which didn’t help much for my self-esteem.

I saw that there was am online contest opening called Nanowrimo, where people attempt to write a book in a month. Writing a novel was something that I always wanted to do. Because I finally had the time to achieve this, I set out to make an attempt. Though I failed to produce 50k words before the end of the month, I did have a pretty good rough draft.

After completing the novel and doing several revisions, I paid three editors to help polish the manuscript. Afterward, I self-published, and so far the book has been well-received. I believe that if I’d been living in the U.S. at the time that inspiration struck, I would have never completed the project. I would have been too busy working a job that I probably wouldn’t have liked.

Based Bachelor GuideThe Based Bachelor Guide is going to eliminate all of the anxiety and guesswork that comes with moving out of your comfort bubble and into the unfamiliar.

This isn’t your standard travel guide. It’s not just about going to places to sightsee and party and waste a bunch of time. It’s about using your moments abroad to take control of your financial future. Here I have put together all the resources and advice you’ll need to minimize hang-ups, avoid social problems, optimize your mentality, and put your time to productive use.

You see, by quickly learning how to live in China, you’ll have ample free time. But that alone is not enough. You also need to have goals and practical guidance on how to achieve them. Even if you don’t know the first thing about entrepreneurship or building a business, this guide will give you an idea of where you can get started now.

It covers:

• What kinds of goals to set
• Mindset
• How to deal with culture shock
• Your Medical Examinations
• Banking and Personal Finance
• Finding a place
• Language Challenges
• Internet Challenges
• Making Friends
• Dining
• Meals
• Transportation
• Dating & Sex
• Healthcare
• Teaching
• Building a Business
• And MORE.

Who this guide is for:
This guide is for single men, most likely college grads, ages ranging from 21 to 40, who are ready to build a successful life in the Middle Kingdom.

Who this guide is not for:
Probably not women. It’s also not for people that have an aversion to working hard and achieving results.

This guide gives you all the details that you need to get started in China without having to Google all your questions – and it comes from someone that has lived in the country for more than five years. This is the guide I wish I had before coming to the country.

To summarize again, this guide gives you all the details you need to get started in your life in the East and how to direct your energy into a more stable and fulfilling future financially.

You can now download the ebook by opting into my Newsletter. Or if you want to buy an official Kindle edition, you can get the book on Amazon.

Just imagine coming to China knowing what to expect and what you’re trying to achieve. Imagine how much more advanced you’re likely to be than anyone else that’s going over with you.

But if you don’t scoop this book up now, I can’t guarantee you’ll get the results you want out of your time in the East. China has chewed up and spat out plenty of foreigners. Some people don’t even make through their first year – they don’t have the constitution. But I have a feeling that’s not who you are, is it?

How to Use WeChat Wallet as a Foreigner in China

If You’re Going to Live in China, You Should Know How to Use WeChat Wallet

Allow me to explain something that will make your life in the Middle Kingdom just a little bit easier.

I’d been using WeChat for years after I’d come to China, but never knew that I could use the WeChat wallet service as a foreigner. Because I’m one the tiny fraction of people that uses Windows Phone instead of an iPhone (mostly because it was more convenient for me when accessing and paying for Western apps), I had mistakenly thought that it was my version of WeChat that was to blame for not having the Wallet option on my Services page.

Has there ever been a time when you’ve been invited to join a group but couldn’t because you didn’t have a bank card registered? Well, this is what it was talking about: you didn’t have a bank card connected to your WeChat wallet.

As it turned out, I was wrong. My version of the application was fine. The problem was that unless I selected the Chinese language version of the app, the WeChat wallet feature was inaccessible. After I had changed the language, all of the features were identical to that of my Chinese friends.

How to Use WeChat Wallet

So here is how you change your language settings. Go to Settings> General> Language> and choose 简化中国 (Simplified Chinese).

If you ever need to change it back, you can go to 设置> 通用> 多语言> English, but if you’re accustomed to the interface and know where everything is, you might not need to, even if you don’t speak Chinese.

After you open your wallet menu, you’ll find that there are different ways to send and receive money. Transfers and Bank Cards.

You can add a bank card by tapping the option at the top, and there you’ll be instructed to enter a six-digit code for when you intend to pay for something. You might not want to use the same six-digit pin you use on your bank cards for security reasons. Enter the complete number from the bank card you want to connect; then you’ll be prompted to enter your name and ID type.

Banks that will accept your passport as validation include ICBC, Bank of China, and China Merchants Bank, and China Construction Bank. Other choices include Industrial Bank, Bank of Communications, China Everbright Bank, Huaxia Bank, and ABC.

Put in your full name, the same way you entered it when you created your bank account. Enter your passport number and registered mobile number. After, it will send you an SMS verification code. Enter the code, and you’ll be registered.

TIPS: If you’re having trouble when entering your bank card into WeChat, try the following: Chinese banks don’t know how to deal with foreigners names. Sometimes they enter all of your names in ALL CAPS because that’s how it’s displayed in your passport. Another thing you might try is entering your LAST NAME FIRST. I’ve had it entered this way before when trying to get my card linked. 

If the app still fails to verify, ask a Chinese friend if you can sign in on their mobile app. Some of the features might be missing on your version of WeChat. 

Now you can send digital red pockets to your friends with a limit of 200 RMB. It works well for special occasions. If you are ever in a hurry for cash but have no time to visit an ATM, you can send someone money directly from your account in exchange for bills. Or if you need to put money in your account, you can do the opposite. For a larger amount, you can select a WeChat transfer. You can use the service to pay at some businesses. You can also use the WeChat option to make purchases off of Taobao!

How to Use WeChat Wallet

Enjoy! You are now modern!

Edit: Some users have told me that by receiving a hongbao from a friend they were able to unlock the WeChat wallet feature. So if the language trick doesn’t work for you, this is something else you can try. If you’re still having trouble entering your passport and/or name into WeChat and you can’t figure out what the problem is: Go to the bank! Chinese banking systems are not really meant to support foreign names, so sometimes they put the last name first or have everything in caps. Make sure you take note of how your details are entered into the banking system. 

Buying Stuff Online in China without Alipay

Buying Stuff Online Shouldn’t be a Pain in the Ass

Sometimes simple services in China often come with unnecessary complications, unexpected obstructions, and incompetent providers. But it doesn’t have to be so difficult. In this post, I will list some golden tips that ought to reduce the some of the hassles that come with buying products on the internet while in China.

Limitations on my Mandarin skills have proven a challenge for me when it comes to online commerce. While I’ve studied Chinese for a long time, reading certain forms online still isn’t easy. Previously, I’d never gone through the necessary steps to get online banking secured for my Chinese bank accounts. This is something that you should get sorted at the time you establish your bank account with the help of a translator.

Often, what I would do in the past is ask a Chinese friend to help me order things off the internet, then reimburse them when the products arrive.

Though it’s not a terribly troublesome request, it can occasionally feel disempowering to have to rely on someone else to help with something simple like that.

I have seen from some online sources that it is possible to establish an Alipay account as a foreigner. When I tried to get my own Alipay account set up, but due to some misstep, I was been unable to access the content on the site for foreigners. I believe it is because I originally established myself with my Chinese phone number, so now the site believes I’m a Chinese national. Pretty damn stupid. I have informed that it’s a difficult process to rectify and have found no way to reverse this.

Buying Stuff Online

Then I heard of a service called WeChat Secretary and I started using them instead. Though they take a percentage for whatever service you pay for, it can be much easier to deal with them than trying to navigate Taobao’s payment system on you own. One of the best parts is that you can pay for their service with Paypal. They can help with almost all of the difficult things a real-life Chinese secretary might be able to do. They can even make phone calls for you in times when your Mandarin is not advanced enough. The service isn’t free, but it can help in a pinch.

When I last used the service, they recommended that I try and use Bitcoin instead of Paypal to circumvent the unnecessary fees during currency change.

So I went over to Coinbase and got an account set up there. They have a choice to pay through your bank with account and routing number, or a credit / debit card. If you want to use a card, you need to provide scans of a state-issued photo ID. You can use my referral link here:

Buying Stuff Online

Never bought Bitcoin before? Perhaps you have some faulty preconceptions about the currency? You can check out my updated guide here. Some people think that after seeing that 1 bitcoin is worth near $1800 that it’s something that they will never be able to afford. Well, you can buy partial bitcoins and you don’t have to spend that much. As world travelers, I feel we should get accustomed to using this kind of currency, as more and more services support it. Also, when you finally manage to receive your first package paid for with bitcoin, it should feel especially satisfying.

These services together should help out a lot with taking control of your life in China instead of having to unnecessarily rely on students, girlfriends, or other acquaintances to handle these basic things for you.

Materialist Culture from Chinese Gold Diggers

Unabashed Materialism from Chinese Gold Diggers

I found this video circulating in my online haunts, and because it so poignantly exemplifies the unapologetic materialism of Chinese women, I felt it was worth a second analysis. First, I want to say that the purpose of this post isn’t to bash Chinese ladies in particular. They’re only acting on cultural establishments that enable their behavior. What I think is most notable about this video is how it strips away any illusion of love playing a part in the process of them selecting a suitable partner to marry.

It even says quite clearly in the video 你没有车, 你没有房, 别想把美女泡上床. If you don’t have a house and a car, you can forget about having sex with pretty women. I doubt that it’s implying that you will only get ugly women on your bed in that case, but the statement is still a bit disheartening because they are openly admitting that sex is their key stock in trade, not companionship, or love, or the joy of sharing a life together. Exchanging sex as a commodity for resources, what do you call someone who does that? I believe there’s a word for that.

In the video, the women sing about how they already have a house and a car, so they don’t need your help. But if you want to be involved with them, you need your own house and car because they refuse to be your mother and allow you to mooch off of them for support. What’s strange about this part of the song is that it would be practically impossible women as young as those in the video to afford their own homes and cars, so how could they come by those things? Not without the help of their families.

While China is more patriarchal than the West in some ways, it is clear that there is still a fair share of gynocentrism to be found in the culture. Just like the West, some people perceive women to a somewhat sacred source of love and acceptance, and if you can’t win their approval, society pressures you to start questioning your sense of self-worth.

Young men in China are compelled to marry early in life, and it is impractical for them to purchase a house and a car so soon in their careers. So for those unfortunate men faced with huge economic obstacles, what do you think these suggestions do to their self-esteem?

Chinese Gold Diggers

Some people I’ve shown the video to have surmised that it might be a kind of satire. They’ve said that there has been a notable cultural backlash in China against women that will only marry if a house and a car comes as part of the package. While it may be a possibility, I’m doubtful. One reason is that China doesn’t seem to understand sarcasm. In my interactions, I’ve had difficulty trying to explain sarcasm to my Chinese students and the intended humorous effect. Secondly, I think the women in the video believe what they’re singing. It’s my negative bias, but I doubt they have the sophistication to appreciate the song ironically.

What was your reaction to the video? Please share your thoughts below.

What are the disadvantages of living in China?

For foreigners considering a life in China, these are the biggest disadvantages.

I asked numerous Western expats what their biggest challenges were living in the Middle Kingdom and this is what they shared:

1. Lack of education and training: One time, I had a maid that thought it was a good idea to dunk the mop in the toilet when cleaning the floors, spreading gross bacteria everywhere. I had to ask her to stop and to rinse it off in the sink instead. I’ve heard other foreigners complain about their maids leaving visible iron burns in their pants. You can probably afford a maid on a teacher’s salary depending on where you are in China. The question is whether they know what they’re doing and can be trusted.

2. Lack of quality service: People that work at restaurants and bars can have a tendency to be rude to you. Why? It is because of the lack of “tip culture” in China. They have no financial incentive aside from the most minimum satisfaction as to whether you go back there or not, so I’ve seen bartenders that treated their customers like dirt and waiters that pretty much ignore you until it comes time to pay your bill.

3. Food: Chinese food isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve found several dishes that I like because I like spicy food, but they all contain meat and basically taste the same. The thing that puts people on edge about the food in China is the possibility of eating dirty oil, polluted water, or questionable hygiene practices. While China does have their own forms of quality control in place, and with ratings in every restaurant for visitors to see (usually an unhealthy establishment will show a frowny red face on a display), it’s difficult to say whether their discretion is reliable.

Disadvantages China

4. Air pollution: Most Chinese people don’t seem to worry about or even consider the long-term effects of breathing unclean air while you will still see quite a few people wearing masks when they make their commutes. It can be really difficult at times to make them conscious of this threat to their health at times, and they may not always take the precautions to protect themselves. I’ve heard more than once of foreigners complaining because on the most polluted days, their Chinese coworkers open all the office windows for some reason.

5. Friends: Some foreigners complain about finding suitable friends to hang out with. Without simply relying on other foreigners, it can be a challenge to find Chinese people who might be at the same level of life-experience and emotional maturity. By the time a Westerner hits twenty years old, it’s likely that he’s already had a girlfriend of some kind, experimented with some kind of illegal substance, and already had a variety of life experiences. Most Chinese males at the age of twenty are still inexperienced with the opposite sex and have done nothing since they’ve arrived in the world but study. That’s why for many of them their development is stunted and they don’t always make the best people to chill with.

6. Language: Of course, language can be a problem. There are definitely strategies for getting around this, but even after a couple of years of study, I still struggled with basic conversations. It can be frustrating that Mandarin may require a disproportionate amount of study, as compared to other languages, but just like anything else, if you practice, you’ll get better.

7. Internet Restrictions: This is one of the most frequently cited reasons I hear from expats eager to leave the country. From what I read, internet service can be really hit or miss depending on the provider and the part of China you’re living in. Sometimes certain sites you’re used to visiting may become temporarily blocked, only later to be accessible a few days later. That said, if you invest in a good VPN service, accessing blocked content on your desktop or phone should only be a minor inconvenience. As a testament that online work is still feasible, this website was built completely from within the Middle Kingdom. For suggestions on how to get around this problem, visit my VPN page here.

Now that you’ve read this list, take a moment to think about these complications and how you will attempt to cope with these issues. Do you have any creative solutions that you think would help? Please comment below.

5 Tips for Traveling on a Budget in China like a Cheap Bastard

Traveling on a Budget in China can Come with Catches.

Here are just a few things to keep in mind to avoid overspending on your time in the Middle Kingdom:

Tip #1. Don’t use cabs where there’s public transportation.
This might seem self-explanatory, but the public transportation system can be elusive if you’re not actively looking for it. Using a handy travel app can help you figure out the system quite easily. I tend to use “Maps” on my phone, but you can find a travel app on the platform of your choice.

Usually when I first were to arrive in Shanghai taking a train, I didn’t know that every train station is integrated with the local subway system. I used to wait in line to take a cab into the city and ended up paying way too much. Cabbies will gouge you. It may take a little more effort to figure out where the entrance to the subway is, but it will be worth it, saving you lots of redbacks (RMB).

Tip #2. Stay out of Shanghai and Beijing
There are so many more interesting places you could go than these two cities, and you’ll save a lot of money by doing so. Shanghai is already essentially a gentrified Western city. It’s even possible to forget you’re in China while you’re there. It’s really not a good representation of the rest of the country and there are foreigners all over the place, handing out their lifestyle magazines and engaging in frivolous pursuits. If you’re going to China, why not really go to China?

Just so you know, staying in Beijing or Shanghai will suck the cash out of your wallet three to four times faster than almost any other place in the country. So if you’re on a budget, don’t dink around for too long in those places. Get your sightseeing wrapped up in a hurry and move along.

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Is Living in China Worth it?

Is Living in China worth the risk?

The world is constantly shifting economically and politically. Perhaps you’ve been considering taking the plunge and starting your adventures overseas. Perhaps you’ve mentioned your China aspirations to friends or coworkers who have said that it’s too risky, mentioning a story about something negative that they heard in the news. You can discard that input. One of the biggest risks we can take in life is inaction or to continue doing something that clearly isn’t working. Whether or not China living will be worth it depends on you.

There are still some other things you’ll want to keep in mind, if you really want to optimize your time in the East for maximum benefit. I recommend the following:

Stay for Longer Than a Year
In order to really reap the full benefit from going to China, you’re going to want to stay there for more than a year. It will take you at least that long to get your bearings and adjust to a new way of life, and it will pass in the blink of an eye. This means investing a little in your new home for the time being, buying an electric bike and a decent computer to complete your work. If you try to live in China with a temporary mindset you may end up skimping on things that you really shouldn’t, like decent cookware. If you’re going to live abroad, you should actually live abroad. That means staying for longer than a year.

Have a Goal
Don’t lose sight of what it is that you’re trying to achieve in country with a lower cost of living. It might be a freeing feeling to not to be weighed down by the financial pressure you were used to back home, but in the face of this newfound freedom, some people stagnate. You need to be self-directed if you want to turn your endeavors into something fruitful. Don’t waste a moment once you get to your destination. I wasted too much time and I regret it.


Don’t Slip into Self-Destruct Mode

If you choose to associate with other expats in China, you’re going to get lured into situations where you’ll be spending the night in bars full of suffocating tobacco smoke, drinking poorly distilled alcohol that will give you brain-splitting hangovers, and generally wasting your time and being unproductive. If you choose to spend your time with Chinese friends, you’re likely to end up eating some unhealthy food. You can’t let yourself slip into these kinds of patterns.

It may not be encouraging to read that the best way to achieve your goals while abroad is to be a bit of a weird recluse, but that doesn’t matter. We all have to make sacrifices if we want to achieve our goals. If you want to take control of your future and put an end to the uncertainty that comes with relying on someone else’s employment for income, you have to work harder than everyone else.