Why Are So Many Expats Leaving China?


I have noticed in the past two years many people who have lived in China for many years are now leaving and going back home or to other countries.  I guess the Charm of China is wearing off.

With the new strict visa laws, the blocking of Vpns and websites, the basic lack of acceptance for foreigners in China is getting old for many people.   They are missing their freedom and are just over it.

I have been here 11 years… and I too am starting to feel that China has taken a turn in a more negative direction concerning foreigners as a whole.  I cannot speak for all expats but from the people I have spoken too…  they are just done with how difficult it is to do just the basic things.   Sending money home can be a two-day task due to the documentation you need to provide. Even buying a computer can be daunting if you do not have a Chinese person with you.  Having to look over your shoulder to make sure you have not broken some law that you didn’t know existed or having your visa checked by the police randomly when you are walking down the street; can be just plain exhausting.

Even some of my friends that are married to Chinese locals are having issues with their spouses, or the spouse’s family, etc.   It is just getting to be a lot… .and people are tired of dealing with it and they want out.plane-flyover-expats-leaving-china

I myself am starting to feel the wear and tear of living here in China for so long.  The probably we run into is …now that we have lived abroad for so long… it is very difficult to come back and live in America again.    Mind you there are so many things that we miss… mainly family and friends…. but America isn’t the same as what is was when I left 11 years ago…  and I am not the same as when I left.   So, adjusting back to home life is very, very difficult.

You have to decide .. if you want to start all over again…. at the age you are now or should you just go to another country and start again.    It’s not as easy as people might think to just go back home.   What will job will you do?  where will you live? …How will you move all your stuff?…… so many things to consider….

Living abroad makes you feel like you have been living in another time .. and then you have returned to the future… kind of like that…. everyone is older, things have changed and places look different.750px-airportcover

I am losing a lot of friends because they are moving but … I am not sure if I am ready to throw in the towel yet.   China is a big place… and there may be a few more things I need to experience before I plan my exit. and a few more goals I need to accomplish… and even more people I want to meet…. However when that time comes when I fully lose the Charm of China…. I will have to consider where to go………. I hear Indonesia is nice……hummmmm

until next time…..

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9 thoughts on “Why Are So Many Expats Leaving China?

  1. I was 3 months in Taiwan. Taiwan is great if you don’t mind low key and quiet. 2nd safest country in the world. Japan is the first. But Taiwan only wants fully qualified teachers. I mean teacher credential. If you don’t have a credential, you can get a job in the language centers–which I hear are not so good–or teaching Kindergarten–which is actually illegal for foreigners to do. Yeah, Taiwan is likely best.

  2. I have a colleague who worked in Indonesia. (She is not mother tongue English). She does not recommend Indonesia, especially for the religious. Nepal is reportedly an ESL teacher’s paradise but again, not for the religious. Korea is awesome, especially in the public schools. I can say that from personal experience. also, tensions are a bit high, given their location but I think it’s ok. I would be there if I had all the right paperwork. (I don’t want to wait for it and miss the hiring season). I have half an eye on China, and a little bit on Oman. And a heart that wants to go home. wanna be friends in America?

  3. LC

    And I thought I was the only one who was feeling this. A lot of my expat friends (and their friends) have gone home. These are people from various backgrounds too- architects, doctor, language learning, just to name a few.

    Anyone know where we can obtain data for China’s expat yearly incoming vs. outgoing totals? Would love to take a look.

    Thanks for sharing this post Jo.

  4. Lulu

    I don’t blame you for not coming back. This country will be dealing with some tough years ahead after the chickens come home to roost regarding certain economic policies recently put in place. Of course politically and socially, it’s a hot mess and will stay that way for awhile. Don’t come back for anyone, do what is best for you and your husband! I wish you all the luck in your future endeavors.

  5. Aiyana

    I’ve been reading your blog for years, so forgive me for not commenting before this, but this is the first time I’ve felt I can ask something I haven’t seen answered before! Have you heard anything about all the foreign teachers Disney Shanghai and Beijing are recruiting? For the first time, I’m at a point in my life where I may have the opportunity to seriously consider working abroad, but of course I want to check out the conditions first. Do you know if Disney China is one of the harsh places to avoid or not? Do you have a list of businesses for American jobseekers to avoid?

    1. I have heard of Disney Shanghai. The expats I know that have worked there seem to think it is okay. However, it is a franchise so not all location will be the same. I know the location in Hangzhou had some issues with visas and all the teachers got deported. However, I have not heard anything negative about the one in Shanghai and Beijing. The one school you should avoid is EF-English First. It is also a large franchise here, however many of the franchise are not ran well… they over work teachers, and do not give proper training .. I am told. I know that they have some locations that are racist and when you live they do not want to give you the proper paperwork and force you to return to your country instead of finding a new job. Now is a teachers market.. so you can pretty much go anywhere and be treated well… because they don’t want to lose you… however, you are competing with those teachers that have been here for years. So please understand that your salary may not be as high as someone that has a least 2 years China teaching experience. I hope this helps… email me personally if you need more help.

  6. Wow, this post was heavy. I honestly never thought about what happens when you get tired of a country. I always felt like once I left America, I wouldn’t ever think of going back. But this post put a lot into perspective for me. Thank you and yes, I think the idea of starting all over again in a new country is both terrifying and exhilarating!

  7. Come back to the U.S. sis with all your knowledge and experience we need people like you here.Not all gloom and doom yet.Of course you and hubby have to do what’s important to you.I wish you the best where ever you are

    1. Thank you for that.. but.. I have found that … people back home don’t really appreciate the knowledge you have obtained.. nor do they really care….things have changed a lot in America…. I have noticed.

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