It’s Not China

Not that I’d mind moving to China – I enjoyed each of my trips there and would like to return at some point. I studied Chinese history and archaeology in college and had an appreciation for the culture even before adopting my children. But moving to China would be an enormous undertaking and require a lot more capital than we have.

Earlier in our journey down this spiral I looked into obtaining a certificate to teach English as a foreign language (TEFL) and in doing my research joined a few of the TEFL community boards. I explained our situation and asked people currently living and working in China if they thought it would be a good option for us. The unanimous response was “No!” The reasons given were largely related to the difficulty and cost of raising and educating children in China. While many teaching jobs include housing, none of those situations were set up for a single parent and children. Most TEFL workers tend to be single adults in their 20s or 30s – similar to Peace Corps workers – who want to combine adventurous travel with work.

Schooling was a big stumbling block. Most expats (expatriates) living and working in China send their children to an International School and many are available in the larger cities, however the tuition costs for 4 children are quite a bit higher than the average TEFL worker’s salary!

As this article on expat schooling options says, “Many expats living in China find their children’s education options constrained by their own financial status. Specifically, couples who have migrated to the East to teach English simply can’t scrape the necessary amount of money together to send their kids to a school that suits their standards.”

Yes, one could chose to send their children to public school but China does not have the “Chinese as a second language” equivalent of the ESL programs in our schools.  All classes, books and homework are in Chinese and the Chinese method of teaching – with a heavy emphasis on rote learning – is very different from the way our schools teach.  Resorting to homeschooling would be an option; however it still leaves open the question of what to do with the kids while one is at work during the day.

Additionally, the cost of moving to China – employers are likely to pay just the employee’s travel expenses – is prohibitive in our current financial situation.  A round trip ticket to China can easily cost over $1,000.

Beyond the financial constraints I feel that we need to move in a direction that provides more security – not just financial security but physical, emotional and psychological security.  I don’t think moving to China – leaving behind family, pets, friends, our language and culture – would be a healthy move right now.  My yen for adventure has become somewhat dulled over the past few years.  I have a bumper sticker (that I designed myself) on my car.  It says “Woman on the Verge!”  We have been poised on the precipice for too long.  It’s time to find a cozy cave!

This entry was posted in 2nd Career, China, Job, moving and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to It’s Not China

  1. So where ARE you moving to? Or if not a move, what is this new opportunity? How about a hint, at least? I hate waiting! 🙂

  2. cs says:

    The sad reality is I believe our days of adventure have become a chapter in our past. Adventure requires security! No one plans an adventurous vacation/road trip/outing without the security of a job to return to in one, two or three weeks; the mortgage/rent paid; a few bills and a credit card for free spending and energy, lots and lots of energy. What I have found during my husbands unemployment for over a year now is that while I am suffering from a chronic illness – neither of us have any energy. Maybe you call it motivation. I remember the days of planning a trip to Guatamala and El Salvador; trips to Niagra Falls and the Grand Canyon; followed the Santa Fe Trail back home – days when kids were young; security just happened; never thought we COULDN’T get a job; we were wealthy, just middle class blue collar hard working Americans with motivation, adventure and security. A trip to China after long months of just surviving; the change in life style; the constant worry and planning steals every ounce of energy. For me to think of a road trip now would be as difficult as planning a trip to Venus. Maybe you just have to get here; where ever ‘here’ is to understand. I like the cave dwelling idea, can’t wait to hear more. I just want to shutter in from the coming storm. Did anyone hear today the great news from the I.R.S. The economy has recovered so well they felt the need to offer a SIX MONTH extension to pay any tax you owe if you don’t have the capability to pay on April 17th. Plus, NO PENALTY, just a small 3 percent interest. A SIX MONTH extension, wow! I don’t need a month end jobs report to tell me what condition the nation is in, I heard it from the I.R.S.! Millions are out of work or underemployed and the Government knows it.

  3. Rose says:

    Good article. Keep in mind that foreigners who come to China to teach English are just a subsection of foreigners in China. I teach junior high at an international school (where my children can attend for free) and my husband has a management job working in manufacturing. We’ve got friends here who work at hotels, work for big corporations (Microsoft, IBM, Walmart, oil companies), and even environmental consultants. Basically, almost all jobs that exist in America exist here. The pay is equivalent and the cost of living is very low.

    • boxcarkids says:

      Quite true! There are all sorts of opportunities in China and it is an amazing country. I almost got posted there for a year on an oil and gas project some half-dozen years ago but my firm didn’t win the bid. Moving to China is a great adventure and I suggest anyone who is interested check out all the resources online to learn more. I limited my post to the reasons a move to China is not right for us at this point. If I were younger and had an extra $5-10k in the bank I might do it.

    • Donna says:

      China offers a lot of opportunities, but for a single woman with 4 children the costs, these days, generally outweigh the benefits. If I am wrong, I apologize, but my guess is that the management job paid relocation and getting settled costs while the teaching job covers the education aspects. Though I know some senior level jobs also foot the school bills. However, I don’t hear of many job opportunities like that for people not already employed by a company before being billeted to China. Even those once hard to fill positions in a “hardship” location now have far more applicants than jobs. I am curious where you are located, Rose, because my experience has been that in those locations where there are senior level jobs and good international schools, the cost of living is perhaps less than major US cities, but not really low. Just curious.
      I live in a small rural city where the cost of living is quite low, but there are no jobs for expats, no English speakers in the city (unless you count our family and 4-5 English teachers) and no international schools at all. The living is cheap but definitely not easy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.