Reader Question

Hello everyone, After my last post I got a comment that actually had a lot of good questions.  I decided to post it and answer them in the blog…. here it goes


Congratulations on your new role. Its always nice to read about your success. I have a few questions. What is health care like? Also, do you own a car? Can you buy your own home and own property? Have you though about moving to Japan? Can you tell us about the quality of life? I’m sure it’s hard to think about now because your are so used to it but are you living pay check to pay check? You said it cost a lot to take wedding pictures… how much is it?
It sounds like the quality of life might be harder to come by there. I’m just curious.

Hello, Thank you for your comment. Regarding your questions,

What is Health Care Like?  Most people in China do not have health care per se.  I have health care provided through the school as do most foreign teachers.   If you wish to purchase your own health care you can but it has like a 2500 rmb deductible.. and you get refunded the money after you have the receipts to prove the costs.   Most normal services are pretty cheap; its like 5 rmb to see the doctor and then it goes from there.  I actually went to the hospital for food poison and the total visit cost me about 100 rmb ( $14).  In China, you pay first then they treat you.

 Do you own a car?  I use to own a car but I sold it.   Cars are very, very expensive here and there are so many people driving like they have never seen a road before; that I prefer not to drive.   I do have an electric bike though.. that gets me everywhere fast.  For long distance, travel there are many public transportation options.   The fast train can take you anywhere in china in a few hours, the long distance bus is like Greyhound Bus and there is always an airplane.  So, basically a car is not really necessary.  Kind of like the people in New York City, most of them just take the subway.

Can you buy your own home and own property?  Yes, everyone can buy their own home even foreigners, if they can afford it.  The down payment on a house is 40% to 50% down on a 10 year mortgage.  Then you own your home but not the land. Most homes are like Condos and you pay condo fees.  If you want a single family home it is very expensive few million rmb. They are also mostly located in the countryside, not the cities.   However, in china you can only own your home for about 60 to 80 years… I cannot remember the exact time frame.  Then the government will give you money to move somewhere else.  Usually, less than what you paid for it. 

Have I ever thought about moving to Japan?  No, Japan is very expensive and very small.  Although, I like Japanese culture a lot.. I do not think I would be as successful there.  There are many educated, high tech people in that country and jobs are limited.  I do have some friends that lived there for a few years and like it but its just not for me. 

Can you tell us about the quality of life? Are you living paycheck to paycheck?  I think this question kind of depends on the person.  I have never been a person to live paycheck to paycheck, because I know how to budget.   However, in China you can live comfortably and usually much better than the average Chinese Local.  But that kind of depends on your standard of living.  If you want to eat out everyday,  travel a lot and buy many things you might run out of money by the next payday.  If you are living normally and not trying to be a baller, you can even save some money.   So,  the quality of life  kind of depends on you.   However, I do not have a home in America to pay or any debt in America.   Some people are trying to pay off debt back home while living in china…. this can be difficult and maybe have you struggling a bit.   Basic cost of living in China is pretty cheap… but you cannot try to keep two households and think it will be easy… $1 = 6.9 rmb … you so can do the math. 

You said wedding photos were expensive … How much are they?  First of all, the wedding photos in China are not like the ones in America or other countries.  They take professional glamour photos and it usually consist of several clothing changes and several different locations.   They will do your make up, hair and provide the clothing for you and your partner.  The whole process usually takes a whole day.   Depending on how many photos you want,  how large and how fancy you want them.  The price can range from as little as 2,500 or as expensive as 15,000 rmb.  (it may not sound like much in $$, but in China the average young couple that gets married makes about 2000 rmb a month – 4000 rmb if they both work)  So, in China that is a lot of time and money just for wedding photos.  When the wedding its self could cost the girl’s family over 100,000 rmb. 

I honestly do not think it is harder to get a higher quality of life here, I think different people have a different definition of “quality of life”  One thing I realized in all my years of living in China is that …. there are a lot of thing that I felt I “needed” In America…..  I realize that I really didn’t need.   I don’t need more than one TV, I don’t need more than one computer (although I have two…) I don’t need new clothes every weekend, or to eat at 5 -star restaurants everyday. I don’t need to go to the movies all the time, I don’t need to spend all my money in the bar and I don’t need to spend a lot of money to entertain myself. Here there are many sites to see, and things to do that cost nothing.   I personally think my quality of life is very good…. and I have money saved and I am in the process of building a home.   I can help my kids when they need it… and I have everything that I want and need…..

So…. when you move abroad… your requirements change, your thinking changes… and your materialistic side changes…. when you see.. people that have 10 times less than you… and are living happily and well you realize that you don’t need the unnecessary crap.

until next time……





4 thoughts on “Reader Question

  1. Well now where do ,I began,I recently purchased a geodome home in buffalo,North Dakota,cost me 125,000 usd,and a 2014 jeep 40,000 USD,medical,free thru the military retirement,vehicle insurance is decent price,home insurance is free,cheap taxes on my property,,with 2.5 acres of land,,has a job at the hospital,and things are falling in place for me…..

  2. anonymous

    Thank you so much for answering my questions! I find it really interesting when you said your needs change when you move abroad. I don’t have much here, but sometimes I feel like I need to buy more to keep up with everyone else. My house is very simple. I have no cable, 1 tv for my husband and son and I and my house is very plain. But when people come over I always feel like I have to explain. We live with the basics and it’s cheap.

    It would be better if more people understood and didn’t judge.

    I have a few more questions. I think for the most part you’ve lived in the city. Like america, the high paying jobs are in the city. Most people move to the suburbs if they have the money to own the more expensive houses and put their children in good schools. I’m not sure if it’s the same in China, but it sounds like it.

    Is the quality of life still good in the country side of China? I’ve always pictured the country side of China, slow paced and peaceful with rice farms nearby. Maybe it’s just the pictures we’ve been fed here, but would you move to the country side eventually? is the quality of life the same as the city. It seems like China is still developing so I assume the country side might not have all of the comforts of the city. Please correct me if I’m wrong and excuse my ignorance.

    We don’t have an inside view of China here and sometimes I’m unsure of what’s accurate because of the media these days.

    The other question I have is taxes. How does this work on houses? Here we get taxed on land and the house. Also, when you work do they take a lot of taxes out of your pay check?

    Also, how is the interest on loans. I know it can fluctuate, but is it fair? In some countries interest is so high it’s not worth getting a loan.

    Jo, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I loved the pictures above and it was very detailed. I have so much respect for you for making the move to China and starting a new life. It takes a lot of courage.

    1. The countryside in china is very remote, mostly older retired go there to wait to die, or take care of their grandkids. Most people would never live in the countryside. In some places in china there is still no running water, or indoor bathrooms. So, no I would never consider living in the countryside. I live in a small city, by china standards, 2 million people. It has all the things I need without being isolated from the world. You pay all your taxes upfront when you buy the house. You do not have yearly taxes like the states. They take 20% of taxes out of every paycheck… which we are paid once a month. Right now loan rates are at about 3 %to 4%. lower than the states…but you put like 50% down. If you did that in the states you would have a lower rate also. Most people travel from their remote locations to the larger cities to find jobs, there are no jobs available in the countryside.

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