Congratulations, you’ve decided to teach in China! That’s a huge, exciting decision!
Now comes the next part. Where in China do you want to live?
Let me start by saying this: You should be a little flexible about where you teach. Certain areas might have schools with a higher need for teachers than others.
However, you should have a good idea of what you generally want from a job. If you know what kind of city you want to live in and what type of teaching job you want, you’ll probably end up having a better time in China.
Knowing your preferences will also make your recruiter’s job easier! Instead of searching for any and every job to set you up with, they’ll know to only look for jobs in primary schools or only in small towns.
So here we go. It’s the beginning of your adventure teaching in China. Where will you teach?
1. Do you want to live in a big city?
Or maybe you want a big city, but you don’t want an area that is quite so touristy. In this case, cities such as Shenzhen, Guangzhou, or Tianjin might be good options. They still have modern technology, large populations, and plenty to see.
Second-tier cities are available for people who just aren’t “big city folks.” Fuzhou is a little smaller. However, since it’s China, “a little smaller” means the population is still over 7 million!
Perhaps a small town surrounded by mountains is what you want. Think about looking into jobs in the outskirts of Guilin or in Zhangjiajie.
Are you a beach person? You might want to work in Dapeng, a suburb of Shenzhen on the coast.
2. What age do you want to teach?
Maybe you’re completely open to teaching any age range, and that’s great!
But if you have experience working with children of a certain age, or even just a preference, don’t be afraid to speak up about it. I’m not a huge fan of teenagers with a ton of attitude, so I requested to teach in a primary school, and I’m glad I did. I had an amazing experience at my school!
On the other hand, some of my friends who really aren’t fans of little kids requested to teach middle or high school. It all depends on the person.
3. Is saving money important?
You might not know this, but certain areas of China pay foreign teachers more than other areas.
This pay difference could be due to demand. If they need teachers badly, they might be willing to offer more money. Sometimes, it’s because cost of living is higher or lower in a certain city than others.
Keep in mind, many companies give you a stipend for your housing, so if cost of living in some cities is higher (and thus the pay is higher), it might not affect you as much as you would think.
If you want more money for travel or to put in your American savings account, you might want to work in a city that will pay you more.
4. Are travel opportunities important?
I liked living in Shenzhen, because traveling wasn’t difficult. It only took me a couple hours to travel from my neighborhood to the center of Hong Kong! It was also only a 30-minute train ride to Guangzhou, another first-tier city in the southeast.
If traveling is important to you, then you might want to live in an area that isn’t too far from other attractions.
Another thing to think about is whether or not there is an airport, train station, or convenient bus station where you are living. Even if there aren’t nearby places to visit, you might be able to easily hop on a plane to Beijing—or even Vietnam or Japan!
5. Do you want a public or private school?
Both options have their pros and cons. If you’re a partier, you might like working at a private school. Employees finish their work days around 10:00 P.M. and might not have to go back until 3:00 the next day. You can stay out all night!
However, if you want to travel during Chinese holidays, you might want to work at a public school. You have guaranteed chunks of time off work.
Do your research and think about which kind of school you want to work at.