Living Abroad in China

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Disclaimer: This book was sent to me for review by the publisher.

I think I can safely say that this book, Living Abroad in China, will be of little to no use to nearly all of the readers here. That’s because it presumes you know next to nothing about China and are going there totally green.

If, however, you really are going there with little or no knowledge of the trials, tribulations and joys of daily life in China, then this book would be an excellent tool to take along. I wish such a book had been available when I went there in 2002. I found similar books back then, but nothing as broad-ranging and specifically focused on survival in China. For that, it’s quite valuable.

The book is written by a husband and wife team, Stuart and Barbara Strother, who went there to live for a year with their two young children. Their effort will appear hopelessly superficial to any China hand, but again, for the beginner I’d strongly recommend it. It gives an overview of how to set up your life in various big Chinese cities and provides useful factoids about looking for property, getting a hand phone, paying taxes, finding a maid, picking a school to learn Mandarin, etc. The timing is good for me – superficial as it is, there is still plenty of stuff in here I can use as I relocate in just a few weeks.

Useful, but far from perfect. For example, it claims broadband is better and more ubiquitous in China than in the US. The ubiquitous part is probably true, but the “better” is not. Everyone going to China who is used to broadband elsewhere will be shocked at how slow Web surfing there can be. There are several other examples of the book glossing over problems you’re likely to encounter, and along with that there’s tons of “D’oh!” stuff (the Chinese are enigmatic to us Westerners, if you didn’t know). But the majority of the information is useful if on the sketchy side. And it has to be sketchy – it covers a huge range of topics and places. Despite that, I’m glad I’ll have it with me for quick reference. If you are going for the first time, I definitely recommend it.

The Discussion: 8 Comments

For some reason the title bothers me: Living Abroad in China, as opposed to what? Living Domestically in China?

December 16, 2006 @ 12:34 pm | Comment

If it just said Living in China it might be inferred it was for natives. The “Abroad” tells you it’s specifically for expats. But I get your drift…

December 16, 2006 @ 12:48 pm | Comment

I was going to comment on the dumb title, but boo beat me to it. So I will just say, enigmatic, really? I guess we just never knew.

December 16, 2006 @ 1:06 pm | Comment

Hey! I want freebies, too. I may not have as many visitors as the Duck, but I promise that I’ll at least mention any free products that are sent to me on The Opposite End of China. Any tips on how to sign up for PR goodies?

December 16, 2006 @ 3:05 pm | Comment

Michael, they come to me – it’s one of the few perqs of running a busy blog, along with those google ads, which sometimes really surprise me. (“You mean people actually click those google links?” Yeah, it seems they do.)

December 16, 2006 @ 5:18 pm | Comment

Has anyone read the “That’s Beijing” guide to expat life in Beijing?

December 16, 2006 @ 11:28 pm | Comment

I’ve read the That’s Beijing Insider’s Guide to Beijing… it’s an excellent guide to the city, not so much for tourists, but for people who are thinking about or planning to live there. Plus, it’s damn cheap at only Y70 (compared to other books with a similar subject matter).

December 17, 2006 @ 4:01 pm | Comment

That’s Beijing is excellent. Thick and full of useful struff. Of couse, it only focues on one city.

December 17, 2006 @ 4:23 pm | Comment

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