Planning Finances: Before Coming to China

Making the choice to pack up your life and move to China to teach English is without a doubt exciting, but before you get on that plane to start your new adventure, the most important aspect to consider is your finances.
That being said, the best way to think about the costs you’ll encounter is by breaking it down into two main categories: pre-arrival expenses and post-arrival expenses. 

 

Let’s start with pre-arrival expenses

PRE-ARRIVAL EXPENSES

Pre-arrival expenses will vary greatly depending on your qualifications and experience (which will determine whether or not you need a TEFL), your location and nationality. 
It will also depend on the amount of things you would like to bring with you as well as the flight ticket you purchase. 
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Visa Costs for China

Anytime you go abroad, especially for an extended period of time, there’s going to be a lot of paperwork to handle–and chances are it’s probably not going to be cheap either.When determining how much you need to spend, remember starting the visa early will lower the overall cost. To get an estimate of your individual situation, refer to each category below and see how it can be done in the most cost-effective manner. 
 Background check (>$35 or free)
For your Criminal Background check, which can probably be handled with your local police station or DMV or other background check channelers, you can expect to pay around $35. If going through an FBI approved channeler, expect to pay more. FBI check is not required to teach in China. 
TEFL certification ($185 reimbursed)
For those coming to China without teaching experience or a degree in English or Education, you will have to take a 120 hour TEFL course to be eligible to get the Z work visa. Luckily, we work with a sponsored TEFL provider which is at a discounted price for our teachers at approximately $185 and will be reimbursed upon your arrival. 
Medical check (cost varies or free)
You will need to have a basic health check-up, but depending on your insurance or doctor, this price could vary. 
Document Legalization ($150-$300)
Before being able to apply for the Z visa, you will need to get your degree, TEFL, and Background check notarized. You will also need to get the degree and background check legalized, and authenticated. Specific price will vary based on your location and if you would like to expedite it.  
Mailing documents ($50-$75)
When getting those documents through the legalization process, you will most likely need to send it via postage.
Z visa application ($90-$140)
The actual Z visa application will come with a fee. If working in Guangdong province, you can do visa on arrival and pay the fee in HKD or RMB. If doing in home country, you may get an agency or go yourself to complete the Z visa application. 
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Packing for China

Trying to pack for a short vacation is tough for some, but for over a year?! To help with this, SDE has created a recommended packing list for our teachers. To access our packing list, either find it on our website at sdeteacher.com or ask a recruiter for a PDF copy.Below, we have highlighted some things in the packing list that will cost some $$. 
Prescriptions
If you take any medicines that require a prescription, be sure to talk with your doctor beforehand about getting a supply for several months or even a full year. It could be awhile before being able to find a doctor to help you out.
Hygiene Products
Having at least a 3-month supply for hard-to-find hygiene products is a must.  Because certain brands may be very hard to find in China (But not impossible!) This is especially true of feminine products.
Appropriate Clothing
 Don’t forget about bringing appropriate clothes for the climate of the city you will be working in. On top of this, large clothing and shoe sizes are much harder to find in China. Be sure to purchase these things before you leave. 
Phone
You’ll need to unlock your phone, too. Either bring your own from home or be ready to purchase one once you get to China
VPN
Downloading and purchasing a VPN before you leave is essential. Many websites, especially social media, is blocked by the government in China. Once you are already in China, you will find it difficult to access a download link to a VPN. 
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Flight to China (reimbursed or covered)

If you are a recent graduate, SDE can offer a paid upfront flight. For those without upfront paid flight, SDE reimburses ¥5,000 RMB for the flight after arrival.

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