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Does anyone have any thoughts to share on being an expat architect in China? How did you find the transition? Cost of living? Quality of design/construction overall? Any advice would be appreciated.
I'm considering an offer from a foreign office based in southern China. I'm two years out of school; I'm pretty excited about the prospect.
chinese girls are cute
Do you have expat salary with only 2-years experience? Or will you work on a "local" salary?
Who will be applying for your work (Z) visa in China?
Hawkin-Though I'm not sure what is expat vs. local salary, it's probably closer to local salary. Do you have any idea what local salary might be like? However, the employer is paying for housing.
All- The employer is going to.
Thanks. I appreciate the responses.
I pay my Chinese staff 15,000 RMB/month ($2500/month).
All Blacks, are you kidding me?
I was told that "normal" salaries in Mainland China for architects were way lower (around 4-5k RMB/month).
I imagine they are local (Mandarin fluent) senior positions, are they?
Sadly 4-5k for locals is still high at a lot of firms while an expat makes over 10k right out of school.
Cost of living all depends on what city you'll be living in and what kind of lifestyle you want to maintain...I have friends in Sichuan Province who live comfortably on 3k a month (2k rent for a nice apartment + 1k expenses). Same goes for many "developing" cities in the south.
In some of the major cities you have the option to maintain a full western lifestyle or you may choose to live a more modest local lifestyle. I live on 100 kuai($12 USD) a day, sometimes more on the weekends if I go out. I still eat street food a few times a week and frequent restaurants where I'm the only foreigner that goes there on a regular basis. I do pay quite a bit for housing, even more than I paid in the US, but I pay for the convenience of the area and the amazing view.
As far as "transitioning" goes I had visited China before so I avoided the "culture shock". However, life in the workplace is quite different from the US and it took me a couple months to really figure out what I could and couldn't ask and to adjust to the work schedule. The design process is fast-paced (and that's an understatement), change is the only constant and it is fairly common to be designing and re-designing even after "90% CD's". Construction quality is also closely related to the pace of construction, which goes on 24/7/365.
I know it isn't for everyone but I've actually grown to love it here, maybe it's because I'm young and I don't know any better yet but the opportunities are seemingly endless if you're willing to get on that plane.
Feel free to PM me if you have more questions, I was in your shoes not too long ago and I was asking every person I knew who had any experience over here what to expect.
No, it's true. I'm based in Shenzhen which is in the South. The 4-5k RMB you mentioned is most likely from Shanghai or Beijing where architects are a dime a dozen. I have four staff members, all are Chinese.
By the way, expat architect's salaries can be as much as 45-50k.
Sounds like I should move to Shenzhen then...
LITS, is that fast-paced studio culture standard in Chinese offices? I've heard that most are really slow and relaxed (an understatement).
Where are you based? I'll take a peak at your portfolio, I'm always in need of fresh talent! Perhaps we can meet up for some coffee...
Here's the link to my company's website www.facundus.moogo.com
We mostly do railway stations and monorail systems.
After seeing a job posting from MAD I started looking more seriously at China.... who are the hot firms down there right now? I'd love to go work and see some crazy project built....
Thanks for your reply,
The few Westerns I know are based in SHA or PEK, 4-5k is the salary they agreed +-. Some of them were even made redundant with the downturn and they said getting a job (specially in Shanghai) could be really complicated.
What about second-tier cities? Chongqing, Wuhan? I guess they are growing at a much faster pace than the West Coast and less expats there.
Sorry I meant the East Coast... (no West Coast for China yet :))
I'm also relocating to Shanghai by Spring.
So is 4-5k rmb the base salary??
I'm also a junior architect. 2-3 years experience here in the US
Yes, that seems to be the general estimate I'm finding. For an internship that is. Not sure about full time positions though. 10k seems to be a benchmark for junior level.
Hello, I am about to move to Shanghai to look for work on my own. Any good advice?
Are you still in China All Blacks?
You can find your answer on this thread.
These links may help ex-pats looking to work in China:
GUIDE TO LIVING AND WORKING IN CHINA: http://www.adrem.uk.com/career-guidance/living-working-in-china-guide/
STATE OF PLAY IN CHINA FOR JOB SEEKERS, ERIC HUI Q&A: http://www.adrem.uk.com/blog/state-play-china-job-seekers-qa-with-eric-hui/