The Brockstar is back! I’m here to give you a little insight on living and working (teaching English) in Shenzhen, China. First I will start with a little about the city, because unless you’ve lived in China or know Asia thoroughly you probably never heard of it (I know I hadn’t!). Shenzhen is directly North of Hong Kong and is about 2 hours (by bus) South of Guangzhou. It is a very new city and was created as a special economic zone. So, like Shanghai, Shenzhen is significantly more open to international investment.
There are ten administrative districts in Shenzhen, but only four of them should be of any interest to you, the foreigner. Bao an’ is where the international airport is located and is well connected by the subway system. Nanshan has a few universities, Window of the World theme park, Sea World and the city’s port, Shekou. Futian is kind of like Wall Street where all the banks have their headquarters and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange are located. One of the two main border crossings is there as well. Luohu is where the main train and bus stations are located and it also has one of the main (and my personal favorite) border crossings.
Being a foreigner is not easy, regardless of what city you decide to live in China. You will probably be very dependant on your employer for a lot of things in the beginning. You can also tap into the local expat community, most of which are teachers. The most useful website for a foreigner in Shenzhen is without question http://www.shenzhenparty.com.
Shenzhen China Women Rating – 3.5/5
I’m not gonna lie, Chinese women are good looking, I’m not sure if I’d place them above Japanese women in terms of looks, but you can’t lose either way. Mainland Chinese women are generally open to dating foreigners, BUT most of them simply don’t speak English. Now the likelihood of you meeting a woman that speaks some English is certainly higher in Shenzhen than it would be everywhere else, but it’s still not that high.
Like with all of (mainland) China, the more Chinese you speak the easier it will be for you to meet women. In Shenzhen you will also find a small population of Russians, who will speak English, and personally, I think Russian chicks are hot.
Sounds great so far, right, well there are some things you must know about PRC women.
They have NO manners- You’ve seen those videos on Youtube when a pack of Chinese raid a restaurant, being loud, chewing with their mouths open, spitting. Well this sort of behavior doesn’t exclude PRC ladies. It will be less common in Shenzhen, but its still common enough to concern you.
Chinese women are robotic- Not only from a personality standpoint, but in the sack as well. They are also very conservative in everyway possible, well except for hawking a loog!
Grooming- I’m not just talking about a hairy snapper, but legs and armpits too! Now, once again, this wont be as common in a city like Shenzhen, but you still see plenty of it. If body hair on a broad bothers you, which it does me, be WARNED!!!!
I went on a few dates while living in Shenzhen, but for the most part I’d just hop on over to Hong Kong and monger. I’m too lazy for sifting through profiles looking for an attractive gal that speaks English and I had absolutely no interest in learning Chinese. If you rated PRCs simply on looks, they’d get a 4.5/5 easy, but there are a lot of off-putting things about them that I have little tolerance for.
Shenzhen, China Cost of Living Rating – 3.5/5
OK the best thing about living in Shenzhen is WORKING in Shenzhen. You can make pretty good money teaching English and there are a ton of job opportunities. It’s not uncommon to run into a Russian teaching English. Hey they’re white, willing to work for less money and most Chinese can’t tell that they aren’t native speakers…. so why not!
If you work for a government school, like I did, you will be supplied with an apartment on top of your salary. If you don’t and have to get your own apartment 3000-4000 RMB is the standard. Not being able to speak Chinese will be a huge obstacle for you in getting one, so you might have to get a place at a building where there are foreigners, which means it will be over priced or your employer can assist you. Food is pretty cheap, beer is really cheap and so is the public transportation. Anything from the West will be, somewhat, expensive.
While living in Shenzhen I made about 14-15,000 RMB/month between my government school job and teaching part time at a language school. I didn’t have to pay for rent or wifi and my utilites were never more than 200 RMB. Bottom line is I lived off 3,000 RMB a month and spent another 3,000 on entertainment (mongering and partying in Hong Kong). So I was saving at least 8,000 RMB/month, which is about $1,200 USD.
Shenzhen is considered to be an expensive city to live in, by Chinese standards, but your salary is also typically much higher than it would be everywhere else outside of Beijing and Shanghai. As you can see I saved a chunk of dough every month and still got to have fun.
Shenzhen, China Quality of Life Rating – 3.5/5
The Internet speed in China sucks, there’s no other way to say it and Shenzhen is no exception. It’s very slow; even if you do have a VPN, you can forget about downloading/streaming your favorite TV shows. Another thing that sucks about Shenzhen is that’s it pretty boring.
The nightlife is mild at best. There are a couple places you can go that are foreign-friendly, Shekou in Nanshan and Coco Park in Futian, but neither are anything to write home about. Aside from those places, there are several KTVs in Shenzhen, which can be quite pricey. Not that sitting in a rented room listening to people sing Chinese songs horribly, was ever of any interest to me in the first place.
PRCs really drop the quality of life down a notch too. They’re rude, like extremely rude! Not necessarily shady or ill willed, just rude. Walking around having to constantly look at fresh loogies is another thing that bothered the hell out of me.
Shenzhen is a new city and everything is well preserved. You’ll see a lot of nice buildings, the side walks are easy to walk on (some even have bike trails) and it’s a fairly clean city. If you like to go for a walk or run, it doesn’t get much better than the Shenzhen Bay walk. There are also a good number of parks to go for a walk or hike. Getting around Shenzhen is also very easy, with an extensive subway system that is cheap to use.
Getting a job teaching English anywhere in China is super easy, especially if you have any sort of experience. The money, if it weren’t for the money I wouldn’t consider living in Shenzhen. But the money IS THERE and with a little hustle you could easily save over a grand teaching English in Shenzhen, while having fun. So yes, the job market in Shenzhen is very good and they aren’t super picky when it comes to hiring people of color either.
Hong Kong. You’ve got one of the greatest cities in the world at the border. Both major land border crossings have metro stations so you can essentially take the subway to Hong Kong, walk across and take the MTR to downtown HK, no trouble whatsoever. You can also take a ferry from Shekou, which also has a metro station, to Hong Kong OR Macau. Hong Kong is so awesome that it’s worth living and working in Shenzhen. Think about this way; if your boring hometown back in farang-land were only an hour away from Pattaya or Bangkok, it wouldn’t be so bad now would it? Well that’s kind of how I think about Shenzhen.
Cost of Living- 3.5/5
Quality of Life- 3.5/5
Shenzhen, China – Single Man’s Paradise Rating – 10.5/15
There are certainly worse places to live than Shenzhen, but there are much better ones too. Shenzhen’s not so bad rating hangs on two things; the money you can make/save teaching English (a job that’s easy to obtain) and that it’s a stone’s throw from Hong Kong. Without EITHER of those two, I’d prefer to be back in L.A.