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If you are considering living in China there will be many things to consider and the last thing you will want to worry about is getting accustomed to cultural changes.

Here are some quick facts to make sure you’re in the know before you arrive.


As you are moving to the most populated country in the world, you will have to get used to the experience of mad rushing and plenty of crowds. If you think the rush hour on the underground or subway is hectic, it’s nothing compared to what will greet you in the likes of Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai. In major Chinese cities everything works on a first come first serve basis – so don’t expect to be greeted with an orderly queue for anything.

No cold drinks

While cold drinks are served in English or American restaurants, in China hot tea is the custom. If you ask for water in a restaurant, the waiter is likely to come back with tea and if you insist on water it’s likely to come back hot. In China warm drinks are thought to help aid the digestion of food and considered as the all-round healthier option.


You might not use them when you go to your local Chinese take-away, however if you want to dine out when living in China, you’ll have to learn the technique of eating with chopsticks. This is a skill that even the youngest children learn and you will not want to be the odd one out – so get practicing before you move.


In the UK and in parts of America we have seen a crackdown on public smoking. In China, this is yet to catch on. Smoking is seen as cool and masculine rather than a health issue. Across the nation there are 350 million Chinese smokers and China produces 42% of the world’s cigarettes – so public smoking shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Eye Contact

In most Western countries its custom to maintain eye contact during conversations. In China however, many locals only make minimal eye contact when in conversation. Whilst this may be different to what you are used to, you will have to bear in mind that it doesn’t mean that you are being ignored.


In China, compliments are expected to be taken graciously because being humble is considered a key cultural trait. When you compliment a female colleague that her new haircut looks good on her, she’s likely to say, “No, I look rather ugly.”

If you would like to find out more about living in China click here to read our destination guides.

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