Moving to China with children

The decision to move your entire life abroad is not generally one to be taken lightly, but when you consider the expats choosing to uproot and relocate to somewhere as far afield as China, the factors that come into play are even more vast and varied. Moving to a country where pretty much everything about the culture is markedly different from life in the UK can be both a daunting experience and an exciting adventure. However, expats with families in tow might be more than a touch concerned about how their children might settle into life in this fascinating yet vastly different country.
If you are considering moving to China, Cadogan Tate will assist you every step of the way – from your first enquiry  to unpacking at your new home, we are here to help and advise you. For more details about Cadogan Tate’s specialist international removals services from London, click here.
Learning the language
If you’re thinking of moving to China with children, here are some tips to tackle few key misconceptions and help you make a smooth transition.
First up is the assumption that children will pick up the language just from living in China. If you are hoping for your family to break out of the ‘expat bubble’, it is imperative to consider the language provisions made by your school of choice. Unconvinced? As an example – after 10 years in China, some expat children are unable to speak the language beyond saying hello and counting to ten. This tends to be the case if their international school offers no Mandarin tuition, even though it may offer a great reputation and a top-quality education. In comparison, the children of expat families who prioritise language skills often end up being almost fluent in the local language, thanks to their school of choice.
Additionally, many expats end up hiring a maid or ayi to help with household duties. This is a common practice in China – many Chinese households will have an ayi who practically becomes a part of the family – so choose yours with care to help settle your children in. If you are hoping the ayi’s language skills will rub off on your children, be sure to choose one from a province where Modern Standard Mandarin is spoken.
Schooling in China
Education is compulsory in China, with children expected to attend school for a minimum of nine years. Schools are funded by the local, central and provincial governments, and classes are taught predominantly in Mandarin, save for those areas with a high percentage of expat families – here, you can find schools which teach in English as well.
The majority of expats in China choose to send their children to one of the many reputable international schools. These private institutions specifically cater to families from overseas, with classes available in a range of languages including English, French and Korean.
Each school is different, providing a range of curriculums and courses. Many expats choose for their children to study for the International Baccalaureate, but there are also options to follow similar schemes to the GCSE system we have here in the UK. Education is generally of a good standard.
However, every silver lining has a cloud and the best international schools in China can come with a high price-tag and stiff competition. It is highly recommended that expats negotiate salary packages to include an education allowance, and should apply for their chosen school sooner rather than later.
Although the move can be an intimidating one for children, employing a little forethought and TLC will enable your little ones to gradually settle into a new country and be able to reap the untold benefits that integrating into a new culture can offer.
If you’re moving to China, find out how our international removals team can help to arrange packing, storage and transportation on your behalf.
Information correct at time of publication.