Should I learn Mandarin, Cantonese, or English is enough?

We talked a lot about things happening when looking for a new apartment. For a change on this post I will give you my own personal opinion on whether or not you will need to learn “chinese”.

If you’re planning on living in china then your place of assignment is most likely to be one of the big cities ShangHai, Hong Kong… In these cities it’s incredible how people are speaking English almost fluently and most likely even better than me! So if you were wondering that you would go through some difficulties to buy stuff, or go to places you were wrong.

Now if you’re going to do a little bit of tourism there will be some cities or villages where people won’t speak English at all. But would that be the only reason an expatriate would like to learn “Chinese”?

To me learning Chinese is not only good for the tourism, but also to get some new friends and broaden your vision of the Chinese culture. Secondarily it can also help during your negotiations when buying a new camera for example.

People living South of China, Hong Kong for example might wonder if it’s better for them to learn Mandarin or Cantonese.  The first thing to know is that Cantonese is much harder to pronounce, but it’s also true that a lot of people won’t understand Mandarin(even in restaurants).

So if you feel the need to learn Mandarin for business purpose or move to a place where people talk Mandarin. Then Mandarin is probably what you want to learn.

If you plan to stay forever in the Canton area or plan to move back one day to your own country. Then for the purpose of meeting people I would rather recommend learning Cantonese.

Note that while the pronunciation of the words are most of the time different they are written the same way with the same grammar so whether you speak Cantonese or Mandarin you will still be able to read stuff.  Switching from Cantonese to Mandarin will probably not be that hard compared to the time you will need to learn Cantonese. Expect one year to be able to read about a 100 to 300 characters depending on the school teaching style, plus basic conversations, and all the tools needed for tourism.

This is it for today, do not hesitate to share your own experiences or comments below! If you liked this article you can help by liking this article using the social network bar below.

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Apartments in china when things goes wrong(tap water)

You want to live in china? Nice!!! If you think finding a good apartment is easy think again.

In this posts we are going to see the very classics flaws we find in about 5% of the apartments.

And today we continue this series with the very classic tap water. As you probably already know it’s not recommended to drink the tap water of your apartments. Especially if you are from Europe or America, the bacteria’s present in Hong Kong’s water is different and your body can handle it very nicely or not.

But the problem is not if you can drink the water or not but more if it’s transparent or not(yellow/brown). This is a very difficult thing to check as it might not happen on the day you visit the apartment. You can still though check for the state of the water pipes, but it might not be enough.

To reduce the risks you can also avoid buildings older  or that have not been renovated since 30years. Asks your colleagues living nearby the apartments where you want to live if they have already encountered such problem.

This is it for today, do not hesitate to share your own experiences or comments below! If you liked this article you can help by liking this article using the social network bar below.

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Negotiating the apartment lease (Tips and tricks part 2)

If like me in your own country you just took a quick look around and saw how everything was nice, then you’ll have to really follow the following steps, because in a lot of apartments you’ll visit there can be some big flaws!

To check what those flaws are take a look at the posts “Apartments in china when things goes wrong”. When you found them you can either decide to discard the apartment or use them as a way of negotiating. For example you have been able to see that one of the air conditioner is leaking, that windows glasses are quite thin… For each disagreement apply a basic -5% or -10%.

If the flaws are too big, you can also ask during the negotiation that the landlord makes the necessary fixes. But be VERY VERY careful, it’s not rare that the landlord will just use a quick way to fix the problem but it doesn’t. Let’s take the classical air conditioner leaking problem.  He will remove the dust, do a quick test and will see that during one hour no leak have been observed problem solved. But when you use it, after 30 minutes the air conditioner is starting to leak. There can be many reasons for that heat and humidity can increase the risk for an air conditioner to leak!

The best thing you can do is to ask things to be renewed, most of the persons we know who tried to negotiate a fix where seeing the same problems other and other.

Sometime the landlord will say ok go with the agent and buy anything you want in the low range category of a certain shop. But sometimes even the low range of the shop will be too expensive for him and you’ll have to either pay a higher rent or pay partly for the item. From our experience, this kind of attitude is not looking very good, when a small problem arise in the future you’ll have some very hard times to have the Landlord make the necessary reparations.

This is it for today, do not hesitate to share your own experiences or comments below! If you liked this article you can help by liking this article using the social network bar below.

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Apartments in china when things goes wrong(The classics : insulation)

You want to live in china? Nice!!! If you think finding a good apartment is easy think again.

In this posts we are going to see the very classics flaws we find in about 70% of the apartments you’ll visit no matter how much you pay whether less than 1000$ or more than 5000$.

And today we continue this series with the very classic insulation. In china and especially in regions susceptible to typhoons you should pay extra attention to insulation.

When you ‘ll move to china ask your colleagues if they had any problem with their apartments. And I would say that 5 to 20% depending on the region you lived in have experienced some water coming inside the apartment during heavy rain.

The first thing to check will be the windows and its joints, very very often the windows are thin and you can very easily hear things outside the apartment. Check for the joints.

Other than the “discomfort” of raining inside the apartment bad isolation also equals higher expenses for electricity for heating or cooling the apartment.

You should also check the entry door, to see if air is coming from the outside. Check for outside fans, and if they can be protected in case of a typhoon.

You can also check for wall insulation as you wouldn’t like to hear your neighbor’s favorite TV show, although I would like to say that usually the wall is usually pretty thick for an apartment above 1000$.

This is it for today, do not hesitate to share your own experiences or comments below! If you liked this article you can help by liking this article using the social network bar below.

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Negotiating the apartment lease (Tips and tricks part 1)

In china negotiation is like a big battle, you can find it tough at the beginning when you will live in china, but you will have to get used to it because believe me you will have to do it a lot.

In this post we are going to give you a few tips you must know when you’ll be visiting an apartment.

When negotiating it’s good to not have your hands tied. So my very first recommendation is that you need to find at least 2 apartments where you would like to live in. When it’s done try to negotiate first on the one you like a little bit less and be very aggressive on it with the negotiations.

Be careful sometime the agents/landlord will tell you that some guys have visited the apartments in the morning and they are almost ready to rent it. Just ignore this that might be 10% true, but even worse if you try to negotiate you’ll be in a very hard position, sure you’ll get 10% but more is going to be very unlikely. Of course the apartment is nice and as it’s empty it’s completely normal that some other people said they might consider moving in, but it might be the 10th apartment they thought so!

Sometimes the landlord won’t lower the price of his rent even if his price is 50% higher than the rest of the market. No matter how nice you think the apartment is you should be able to find something similar somewhere else. Some people are ready to wait for the guy who is going to pay and even if they don’t find it they think that the value of their apartment is going to go up and they’ll be able to sell it with the profit(they have been quite right for the moment).

This is it for today, do not hesitate to share your own experiences or comments below! If you liked this article you can help by liking this article using the social network bar below.

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Negotiating the apartment lease in china (The basics)

When you’ll be arriving one of the first things you’ll have to do will be to find an apartment. Chatting with your colleagues you’ll see that they tried to negotiate the rent, some will have done quite well -30%, some exceptionally well -50% and a lot of them poorly -10%.

In this post we will cover the basics for looking at an apartment, but before going further please take a look at the posts named “Apartments in china when things goes wrong”.

So first visit as many apartments as possible and check the prices for the rents in areas of interest. The first thing you’ll notice is depending on the agency the price can be quite different and when I say quite different it’s not 10% it can be twice the price for the same apartment! By using different agencies or contacts to check for a rent in a specific location you’ll be having a good idea of the minimum price for an apartment that looks good for you.

Without trying to hard when you have an apartment you really like you can take the minimum price you computed earlier and add -10% and without any resistance the Landlord will most likely say yes!

Ok in this post we have been able to get -10% on an apartment we liked but compared to some of our colleagues it was on the minimum price we have computed, so depending on the agencies you might have saved easily 30% of the price.

But hey we are just checking the basics right, so wait for the next posts and you’ll see how to get -20, -30% from the minimum price!!!

This is it for today, do not hesitate to share your own experiences or comments below! If you liked this article you can help by liking this article using the social network bar below.

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Apartments in hong kong/china when things goes wrong(The classics : the air conditionner)

You want to live in china? Good!!! If you think finding a good apartment is easy think again.

In this post we are going to see one of the very classics flaws we find in about 70% of the apartments you’ll visit no matter how much you pay whether less than 1000$ or more than 5000$.

And we begin this series with the very classic the air conditioner. In china and especially when leaving in a humid area those can be leaking like crazy!

First thing, ask for electricity to be turned on then use the air conditioner. First check the noise! It can be really bad! Second you can try to check if it leaks but just in 5 to 10 minutes it’s going to be very unlikely that you find one. So here are the tips to detect it.

 Check the wall under the air conditioner. If it’s wallpaper, check if just the portion below the air conditioner has been replaced(quite common). If it’s a painted wall then check that that wall specifically has not been repainted recently. Check the bottom of the walls, if there are some wooden baseboards and check if they are swollen.

If there is only one leak in the kitchen that is bad then you can maybe just use it for negotiation, but if all of them seems to be in pretty bad shape you might want to runaway!

This is it for today, do not hesitate to share your own experiences or comments below!

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