Do you like living in China?

My answer seems to have triggered some negativity in people, so please let me add a little more to my response. The question is ‘Why do you like living in China?’ Actually there is a long list of answers as to why I like living here. The financial one listed below in my original response was the most immediate benefit to me recently, as I’m saving money to buy a business for my family back home.

I admit that my response sounds boastful and flippant. Being an ESL teacher takes determination, special skills (creativity, patience etc) and courage to leave your comfort zone and travel to a totally foreign place. The salary is a big incentive to stay in China but I started out at the bottom of the heap working for an illegal training centre many years ago.

Since then I’ve honed my skills, learned some of the language and tried different teaching positions to find out which suited me best. This took time and a great deal of trial and error. My current monthly salary is definitely not the norm here. Many new ESL teachers make half or even less than the figures I quote below.

There are many reasons why I like living in China. I like the surreal quality to everyday life; sometihg strange happens just about every day. I love my students – they are adorable and so full of joy and life. I like the local food here in Wuhan. I like the geographical location as it’s affordable and easy to visit many nearby countries.


I get paid $3,360 a month to teach English at a kindergarten. I work 8:30 to 11:30 am and then have a 3 hour lunch break. 2:30 to 3:30 is lesson time again and then work is over for the day.

I have a private room on a beautiful school campus. It’s a 5 minute stroll to my office at the kindergarten. There are tree-lined pathways, a huge duck pond and horses, goats and lamas wander around. There’s even 2 monkeys and other animals in a mini zoo! It’s a lovely place to work.

There’s a school canteen on ground level of the teacher housing block and I eat free meals 3 times a day. They even provide milk and cookies in the evening!

I haven’t paid a utility bill in years.. power, water, internet is all provided. The school also subsidises flights home throughout the year up to $1,450. Free medical. 2 months fully paid holidays.

I often go days at a time without spending money. I’m 44 years old and finally have savings. It’s a nice feeling.

Now to put all this into context..

I used to earn $2,245 a month working 9 to 5 in a government call centre. It was stressful, joyless work. I was constantly scrutinised and every key strike and spoken word were monitored. I had a 25 minute lunch break sat in a dull lunch room surrounded by other miserable people. I’d get to the end of each workday and breathe a sigh of relief, before waiting to take a 45 minute bus ride home.

I used to live in a share house sleeping in somebody’s spare room. The bed was a slab of ancient foam. The house owner used my room to house his 8 foot long carpet python, which would slither up and down all night in a huge tank, trying to escape. I paid $720 out of my $2,245 salary each month to live in the ‘snake room’.

I used to try and budget each month and bought groceries at a discount supermarket. I like food and cooking and spent around $300 a month on groceries. My monthly bus expenditure was $120 a month. I seemed to be constantly juggling bills; power, internet, credit card… I was living pay cheque to pay cheque. I had a supposedly good job but had zero savings.

Sorry for the long answer. The short version is: I like living in China because I get paid great money to do something that I enjoy, ad it’s very easy to save money and get ahead here.

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