As the world’s economy goes down the drain, the cost of living in China gets higher and higher. China used to be very pocket-friendly to foreigners. Today, very few foreigners can afford to rent an apartment in the first-tier cities such as Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai.

Fortunately, there are ways in which you can still manage to live and work in China as a foreigner. For instance, most Americans living in China are managing to pay their bills as they work in China teaching English.

Of course, jobs in China aren’t easy to get as the country has a huge population. You need to know where to look for work in China for foreigners and survival tips. Here are some top ten ways to live in China for Westerners.

1. Know where to live
Unlike in most Western countries, China’s development is uneven. For instance, some coastal cities such as Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai are considered to be modern metropolises. In first-tier cities, culture shock is very minimal. Here, you will come across some western foods and supermarkets, Chinese, who can speak English, Western-style bars, clubs and more. There are at least 300,000 Western foreigners in Shanghai. Community makes it easier to live and work in these cities. The only limitation in the central Chinese cities that the cost of living is high and you aren’t forced to learn much about the Chinese culture.

On the other hand, settling in smaller or second-tier cities such as Kunming and Chengdu is cheaper. You will also experience a more traditional form of Chinese culture. The only limitation is that you will experience many challenges arising from cultural differences. In such small cities, you can easily find work in China teaching English.

2. Have facts before you go
Most western foreigners who are planning to move to China begin looking for a job before leaving their home country. You need to have answers to fundamental questions such as: does Facebook work in China?  Does Xbox live work in China?” . How much do I need to survive for a month in China?

Therefore, you need to know where to look for jobs in China that are suitable for westerners. You should rely more on the internet. You should also know that international, large enterprises may speak English but most of the companies in China prefer hiring people who know some basic Chinese.

3. Get the right VISA
For you to work in China as a foreigner, you need a Z VISA (working VISA). This VISA must convert to a resident permit with 15 days from the day you set foot in China. To get the Z VISA, you need to own a Foreign Expert Certificate and pass several medical examinations. The firm that hires you attains your permit. Getting a Foreign Expert Certificate is not that easy. Some medium sized companies ask foreigners to go to China with an F VISA (business VISA) or L VISA (touristic VISA).

Those who desire to move to China for studying should own an X VISA (student VISA). Here, you should also have an invitation letter to the university or the private school for which you applied. Keep in mind that the only legal way to work in China is by getting a Z VISA in your home country and then transform it into a resident once you reach China.

4. Consider teaching English
Only westerners and Americans living in China, who have teaching qualifications, can teach at Chinese schools. This is a highly common job for foreigners. However, you should know how to survive on a teacher’s budget in China. For instance, entry-level positions can earn you about $900-$1500 per month. This salary includes any bonuses, free housing, and healthcare fees.

5. Cope with the Climate
Americans living in China have a major problem with the climate. For instance, Beijing is frigid during winter. Therefore, you should dress warmly because most buildings are poorly insulated, or don’t have a heater. During summer, there’s a lot of heat and humidity in the air for some few days. If you aren’t used to this kind of climate, you might face a heat stroke. Therefore, drink plenty of fluids and stay away from heat.

6. Embrace the culture
Master the basic Chinese etiquette and traditions. For instance, you shouldn’t give watches or clocks as gifts as they symbolize death. You should also be ready to sing karaoke, drink baijiu and stay late for very long dinners. The Chinese will respect you more when they notice you have an interest in their culture.

7. Learn Mandarin
Mandarin is not as a hard as it seems. Learning basic terms such as greetings will show that you respect the Chinese culture. Immersing in culture increases the chances of you succeeding in business in China. The Chinese will first build a friendship before closing a deal, and there’s no easier way to win their hearts than this.

8. Explore the Country
Be adventurous. Even though you’ll be working, explore other parts of the city. Don’t just travel to factory towns. Exploring the cities will open your eyes and give you more ideas on how to have fun legally in China.

9. Know the jobs suitable for foreigners
As a foreigner, you have many options. Not everyone loves teaching English in China. Other jobs available to foreigners in China include; Engineering or technical jobs, IT jobs, sales jobs, high-level management employment and marketing jobs. Of course, you need qualifications for such jobs.

10. Just eat the food
The Chinese are known for eating almost anything. It’s important to eat the food offered by Chinese colleagues or workmates, but you can ask what it is first. You should also know where to shop for food, how to cook and store your food. If you don’t like cooking, ask friends for the best restaurants in your local area.

Now that you know how to live and work in China as a foreigner, it’s time to expand your world. Ensure that you are working legally in China. Otherwise, you might end up paying thousands of dollars for breaking the law. Also, beware of agencies that try to take advantage of foreigners.