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Anyone who’s worked / working in Shanghai

Discussion in 'Teaching abroad' started by 101kaevija, Dec 3, 2018.

  1. 101kaevija

    101kaevija New commenter


    Will be moving to Shanghai soon and I was wondering what survival tips you can give. I will be downloading expressVPN but is there a recommended VPN that will allow me to access YouTube etc.

    What are the crucially important things that I need to pack?

    Thank you! It’ll be my first time and I’m reading lots of information online but it’ll be better to get first hand knowledge from someone who’s lived / worked their before.
  2. mermy

    mermy Occasional commenter

    Express VPN IS the recommended VPN for YouTube, Facebook, Insta, Google etc.. Also, if you have Android, Thunder VPN is free and works well as my back up. Don't forget to download wechat as you will need it here.

    Pack over the counter medicine, shoes if you are a larger size, clothes if you are a larger size (enough to get you through until you find a good tailor) and if you are a lady and use make-up and lotions pack some of them as they will have whitening products in them.

    Everything else is available here. Before I moved, someone told me to keep in mind that I'm moving to the factory of the world. And it stuck as it is so true. Anything is available online, check out taobao.com or the English version of it baopals.com. Type something in you might want (toaster for example) and you'll see that you get things at a fraction of the cost in the UK.
    leenacharme4 and ShinTabs like this.
  3. 101kaevija

    101kaevija New commenter

    Amazing! Thank you, Mermy - especially for the info about useful websites to order things online. Did you decide to pay for ExpressVPN?
  4. mermy

    mermy Occasional commenter

    You're welcome.

    Yes, you need to pay for Express after 30 day trial, but it's worth it. You get up to 3 (or 5?! unsure at the moment) devices connected at the same time with one account which is enough for us as a family. There are problems sometimes, but their customer service is brilliant. Send them a message and it will be sorted in no time.
  5. ChaiLattePlease

    ChaiLattePlease New commenter

    The things I bring from the U.K. are Tetley tea, over the counter medicine and craft supplies (I’m a knitter).

    You can get pretty much anything from U.K. here but some imported things are very expensive.
    101kaevija likes this.
  6. 101kaevija

    101kaevija New commenter

    Are you in Shanghai at the moment?
    With regards to opening a bank account, does anyone have experience of opening an HSBC expat/international bank account from the U.K. to use in China? Sorry if I have a few questions!
  7. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    There is no reason to open a HSBC bank account today, maybe in the past but not now. A Bank of China account allows you to draw money out of a UK Barclays and many countries accept the Union Pay card in shops. Keep your UK bank and Credit cards and transfer money from china 2 or 3 times a year to top the account up.
    rouxx likes this.
  8. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    My experience was in the past and having an HSBC international account was of no help whatsoever in China.

    In 2007 I was able to use UK debit card in an ATM in China and I transferred money both ways from and to normal UK bank accounts. I also used my Union Pay card in every country that I travelled to...it got easier and easier over the ten years I was there. (However transferring money just got more complicated with reams of paperwork but doable)

    A colleague who opened an HSBC account to come to China was mightily annoyed when she discovered it was no more convenient and she had to pay general banking fees on top.
    ShinTabs likes this.
  9. 101kaevija

    101kaevija New commenter

    Is it a normal thing to pay for general banking fees? I’m unsure now if I’d rather wait until I get to China to open an account or set up a hsbc expat account beforehand?
  10. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    There is no reason, that I know of, to open an HSBC international account (there certainly used to be banking fees attached to it)

    Your school will very probably pay into a local Chinese account and you will get a union pay card - a debit and ATM card. In many places you have no choice, the schools will only pay into certain accounts and arrange it for you.

    Union Pay is accepted in many, many places worldwide.

    You transfer savings from your Chinese bank account to your regular UK account and so still have funds to use your UK debit and credit cards. Yes there is a ton of paperwork, but you still have to complete that to transfer to your HSBC international account, as the paperwork is needed to change the RMB into sterling, dollars or euros.

    Before your first pay date, your uk credit and debit cards will allow you to access funds from home in China, either by paying on your credit card or using the ATMs to withdraw cash. Fees are charged, but it’s worth it for the convenience.

    When you finally leave, you transfer the balance back to the UK and close the account. My Chinese bank allowed me to sign transfer forms for this in advance and my account was closed once my final salary payment had been transferred to the uk.
  11. 101kaevija

    101kaevija New commenter

    Thanks a lot for all the info! I’m with HSBC uk so I will be setting up an international account with HSBC - hoping it’ll have some benefits.
  12. Capricorn2412

    Capricorn2412 New commenter

    Very unlikely the benefits will eb worth it. Due to Chinese banking rules and norms HSBC, Standard Chartered, etc don't function the way they do in say the UK. Much easier to just wait for your employer to set up your account. Are they offering to remit part of your salary back to the UK? That is by far the easiest way and then you just use your own account as usual. These international accounts may have benefits if you have a large balance, but otherwise if you have to pay monthly fees or a margin on transactions, it is not worth it.
  13. ChaiLattePlease

    ChaiLattePlease New commenter

    No, I’m in another city but go to Shanghai now and again.
    Regarding bank account, the school helped us open an account in China so I can’t help on the HSBC issue.
  14. thequillguy

    thequillguy New commenter

    I have found that having an HSBC UK account is of no help when opening an HSBC International account. I have been told in two countries that HSBC effectively treats these banks as separate countries in terms of care, as well as charges. If you have at least 100,000GBP in savings, this might be different as you should enjoy a premium account. But then again this is a teacher's forum. Good luck.
  15. Bytor

    Bytor Occasional commenter

    My school used HSBC when we arrived.

    They helped in opening a HSBC account when we started, and due to our wages compared to locals we got HSBC Prime.

    On a visit ot the UK, I enquired about opening a UK Prime account. As I didn´t have proof of address abroad, I wasn´t allowed.

    Once I had gained proof of address, I was able to apply via email and telephone calls. Eventually, HSBC opened a UK Prime account for me.

    Don´t assume that this will provide cost-effective advantages though.

    Look at Transferwise for foreign exchange.
    They also offer an online account in some countries, so that you can hold more than one currency account, and transfer between them. Not sure whether this account is available in China.
  16. rouxx

    rouxx Lead commenter

    Wonders if you read the posts
  17. LCass

    LCass New commenter

    Express VPN cuts out quite often. I find that 12VPN works a lot better - I use it with the Shadowsocks app on my phone and Shadowscale on my ipad (who comes up with these names??).
    Using google chrome's translate extension makes life a lot easier. Especially when using Taobao!
    Also, you will want to sign up to Didi and Mobikes as quickly as possible. Makes getting around very easy.
    For groceries, I recommend Kate and Kimi, Epermarket and Fields. That is because I am a wuss when it comes to food and would rather buy locally produced organic or imported food, as some of the stories about stupidly high pesticide levels on conventionally grown local food have scared me off buying at the local fruit and veg places. But that depends on how picky you are :)
  18. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    You can also load a web browser called Epic that has a built in vpn, works with fb and its free. Its a modified version of Chrome that blocks adds and tracker cookies.
  19. Teecherz

    Teecherz New commenter

    Anyone have any 20182019 salary information?
    Especially for the dull British school, the group with their hq in Hong Kong or the school that sounds New Zealand rather than uk.
  20. february31st

    february31st Established commenter

    The dull school in Shanghai has a good package in line with the other rent-a-name schools. Be aware of the 3 yr contracts you are asked to sign as it it gives the school a legal right to reclaim all the air fare, rent and health insurance you have been paid if you break the contract early. The rent allowance seems to increase considerably if you sign for a second 3 yr contract.

    Also a large number of old hands are leaving this year for various reasons and a new school sight is opening in Puxi(in an undeveloped, isolated part of the city). So the school is in a high level of change and upheaval for new staff to experience.

    At least in a better state than some of the other similar schools, one has just shot arrows into the back of its current head, one is asking staff to resign due to falling student numbers and one can't seem to recruit staff as it unfairly booted so many teachers out last year.

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