The Expat Chat: Lifestyle Travels and International Living

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The Expat Chat: Lifestyle Travels and International Living




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Jan 7, 2016

Back in 2007 Ian Clavis was working in IT in London. The Liverpool native was becoming tired and bored with city life in England and when a friend suggested he could get a position teaching English in China Ian jumped at the chance.

7 years on Ian has made a home for himself in Chengdu, China a large city of over 10 million people near the border with Tibet where he has a Chinese wife and the recent addition of a young son.

I caught up with Ian to discuss life as an expat in China and were surprised to find a country that was far more lenient with foreigners than what I had expected.

If you’re interested in moving to China check out Ian’s blog at or you can listen to his podcast where he offers advice on living in China at

What I learned from Ian:

  1. China is more relaxed with westerners than I had expected. Ian is pretty much free to do what he likes there and doesn’t encounter any issues with the authorities. Many people work in China without the appropriate visas but seem to encounter few problems – especially when working online. There are internet restrictions but like Josh Cahill Ian is able to work around that with a VPN.
  2. Recent changes to travel visas now mean that Australians and US citizens can effectively stay 10 years allowing for leaving the country every 90 days. A quick trip to Hong Kong and back is usually enough to satisfy these requirements.
  3. Health care is poor with a shortage of resources. Fortunately private health is good and very affordable. The recent birth of Ian’s son, including 12 months of follow up care only cost $US3000 in total.
  4. Care should be taken when purchasing property. If buying new most places come unfinished and the electrics would need to be redone. Expect to have to finish it off yourself as the standard and pride in workmanship sounds close to non-existent! That said foreigners are now able to buy properties and take out mortgages directly.
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