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Moving to China: From NZ to Beijing

If you thought Auckland was a busy city, you’ll be amazed when you step off the plane into China.

More than 1.3 billion people call China home, making the nation the most populated country in the world and the second-largest country by land area. China is increasingly becoming a popular nation for New Zealanders to move to too. There are plenty of economic opportunities in the region, and while the language barrier might be tricky China offers Kiwi families and professionals alike an adventure of a lifetime.

Keen to see what a move to China might look like for you and your family? We’ve put together some tips and tricks about moving to China.


As with most international destinations, anyone who’s travelling on a New Zealand passport must have a visa to visit China (but not Hong Kong). Visas must be organised before arrival plus all new arrivals to China need to register where they’re staying with the first 24 hours. Holiday visa requirements will be different to working ones so make sure you apply for the correct visa depending on what you’re doing in China and how long you plan to be there.


In China, the main languages are Mandarin and Cantonese. While some people do speak English, many may not be confident in their English-speaking skills. Most people in the major Chinese cities speak English but the further afield you go the more likely you’ll experience more significant language barriers.

Visitors to China can get around without knowing much Mandarin, however it will always be easier if you do understand the language. If you’re planning on moving to China to work, particularly if you’re likely to be there for a while, it’s probably a good idea to learn even just the basics first. For example, there isn’t much signage in English so even just getting around the city will be much easier if you understand even just the basics of Mandarin.

Working in China

China is regarded as one of the biggest, best and most competitive economies in the world so when it comes to work opportunities, there are many of them. But gone are the days when a new arrival to China could rely on luck and the ability to speak English to land a decent job; in fact, there’s an increasing impetus on learning Mandarin before you get there in order to get the kind of jobs you’d hope for.

As with any move overseas, it’s always best to have a job sorted out before you get there. But if you’re moving to China with the intention of finding work once you get there, Zhaopin or 51Job (both Chinese), and ChinaJob or Monster (both English) are good places to start.

Expats moving to China often work in education positions, particularly teaching English. Finance, Sales, Marketing, Engineering and IT are also common expat jobs and is a great place to find any available jobs that are specifically being targeted to new arrivals to China.

Cost of Living

The cost of living in China is much more affordable than that in New Zealand, and if you choose to shop at fresh markets it can be even cheaper. Housing will be probably your biggest expense, particularly if you’re living in any of the bigger cities like Guangzhou, Shanghai or Beijing, but you’ll have plenty of opportunities to save in other areas of your expenditure.

Apartment living is almost totally guaranteed; building upwards is the only way to squeeze millions of people into a city after all. is one of the most common websites to find accommodation in China, although if you need help this is a great resource too.

Getting Around

Because China’s major cities are as large as they are (Guangzhou is China’s most populous city at a whopping 44,294,245 people), it’s important that the public transport systems are really efficient – and they are. They’re also very fast and affordable (the 185km between Changzhou and Shanghai takes less than an hour to travel by train, and a return ticket costs around $30). Cycling and walking are also great options. You could also drive, but especially in the major cities traffic jams can be a big problem.


Even the hardest workers deserve a bit of downtime, and if you’re living in China there is a plethora of things to choose from. An obvious first choice is a visit to the Great Wall of China in Beijing, which is the world’s longest wall and one of the most visited historic sites in the world. The Forbidden City in Beijing is also a must-see. ‘Ordinary folk’ used to be barred from entering but now it’s recognised as one of the five most important palaces in the world. The Forbidden City shows off some of China’s most ancient architecture, features more than 8,000 rooms with golden roofs, and is filled with priceless treasures.

Despite being well-known for its cities, China is also famous for its pristine, wide open spaces. National parks and forests are plentiful and the Li River in Guilin is no exception. If you’re a lover of animals, you need to find time to visit the giant pandas in Chengdu too. Regarded as China’s ‘national treasure’, the giant panda is one of the most endangered creatures in the world.

Moving to China

If your next career move is a move to China, you’re not alone. Thousands of expats head overseas every year to embark on the adventure of a lifetime, and many of them partner with international relocation company Crown Relocations to make their big move happen. With more than 55 years of experience moving Kiwis from country to country, Crown is perfectly suited to help you and your family move to China too.

Still not sure if you’re ready to take the plunge? Crown has loads of information about furniture removals, international shipping and storage. Need a point in the right direction? We also have a moving checklist to help you make sure you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s. Call us or complete a quick quote form online for a free, no-obligation movers quote and start planning your move to China today.

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