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MVV and inburgeringsexamen
This article only applies to the mixed couple that want to move to the Netherlands for a longer duration. It will talk about the requirements and procedures of applying for a special long-stay visa for the Netherlands called the "MVV" (machtiging voorlopig verblijf). Since a couple of years foreigners have to pass a special exam about the Netherlands and about the Dutch language before they can apply for this visa.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 25 October 2011 )
Cheated by hospital and revenge
My wife has a small problem, which I don't want to go into obviously, which required her to go to the hospital. She already went to the famous Peking Hospital here in Shenzhen, but their blood tests didn't pinpoint the problem. So she searched online and found another hospital which claimed it had a treatment that could not only pinpoint the problem, but also solve it. So yesterday my wife went to that hospital and had to pay 1010 RMB for research. This is a lot, but since the price of the blood tests in Peking hospital was 580 RMB, she accepted it in the hope that this treatment was as good as the doctor told her.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 12 June 2011 )
Removal old urban village Dachong
For months now they have been busy removing the old houses in the Da Chong area of Nanshan district in Shenzhen. In March 2010 we saw lots of people protesting at the exact same spot, but apparently (and not surprisingly) the disputes have been largely settled and not much is left of the many buildings. I must say that this was one of the older neighborhoods and didn't look very nice. My wife lived there once though and it served a purpose: cheap housing and centrally located. That central location must have been too good though, because there are plans to build many new houses. It's next to the Shenzhen Hi-Tech park and the subway, so I can imagine that the government wanted to modernize. In total 1400 buildings will be demolished over an area of 1 million square meters. Nobody can say they don't do it thoroughly in Shenzhen :) The project is scheduled for completion in 2017, but considering the scale I assume it will be a few years later, even with the famous Shenzhen speed of building.

Here are the photos taken today in the heat of the Shenzhen summer (over 30C today!):

the end of the old Da Chong neighborhood

Last Updated ( Friday, 13 May 2011 )
Shenzhen housing fund starts
December 2010 marks the start of a housing fund in Shenzhen that is for the first time available to most workers in the city. Other cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou already implemented such a policy many years ago. The rules state that each employer has to contribute at least 5% of the employee's salary to a special housing fund account.
Last Updated ( Saturday, 11 December 2010 )
Shenzhen apartment
Finding an apartment in Shenzhen is easy! If you are very rich... Shenzhen is one of the most expensive Chinese cities to live. This is largely because of the ridiculously high housing prices. People earn a few thousand RMB per month, but one square meter will already cost 20.000 RMB and often more. A further complication is that Shenzhen is very big. Traditionally many foreigners live in the Shekou area, an area of Nanshan district in the south-west of Shenzhen on a peninsula close to Hong Kong. Still today most foreigners live in Shekou and it's a nice area, but why limit yourself just to one area, when Shenzhen has much more to offer? This article will give you an overview of the city to help you find an apartment and also give some advice about what to pay attention to.
Apartments for rent in Shenzhen
Last Updated ( Monday, 06 December 2010 )
Relocate to Shenzhen
For many foreigners the first time they hear about Shenzhen is when their employer wants to send them here. Everyone knows Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Macau, but Shenzhen is still a big unknown in the West. That was part of the reason why I started this website over 4 years ago, and I've received many emails from expats over the years asking questions about life in Shenzhen. Most of them were planning to move here, and were trying to gather information, or just arrived in the city and trying to find their way. It occurred to me today that I never wrote an article about relocating to Shenzhen.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 05 December 2010 )
Panoramic photos Shenzhen
Today the weather was very beautiful, so around 1 o'clock in the midday I went to the highest floor of the new Tencent office and took these photos from Shenzhen. There are two panoramic photos, one looking towards Hong Kong and one towards the North and some photos in other directions. It gives quite a good impression of Shenzhen and especially Nanshan district:

Shenzhen Hi-Tech park

Last Updated ( Saturday, 14 August 2010 )
Getting tv in Shenzhen
Since about 2006, Shenzhen has digital television throughout the city. This means you need a special box below your TV to convert the digital signal into something your TV can understand. The TV network is built by Shenzhen Media Group who owns Shenzhen TV stations, broadcasting stations, movie factory etc. SZ media group also owns Topway, the company that you as end user will buy the TV subscription from. This article explains how to get a TV subscription and also dives a bit into censorship of the (English) TV channels.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 07 December 2010 )
Work visa and foreign expert certificate
To renew your work visa in China, you will also need to extend your foreign expert certificate. First you need to take care fo your expert certificate. For this you need special photos with barcode (at least in Shenzhen). Photoshops will know what you need. You also need to show your employment contract. For the visa itself, you need to show your expert certificate obviously, again photos with barcode, an application form and 800 RMB. This year you don't need to submit the application in person anymore, though last year it was required to do so. In short:

Last Updated ( Thursday, 01 July 2010 )
World cup soccer 2010 China TV
These are the dates and times when soccer matches of the FIFA World Cup 2010 in Africa are being broadcast in China on TV.  We'll be off work from Monday the 14th to Wednesday the 16th because of the Dragon Boat festival. The TV schedule for China is also available here in Chinese .

The Dutch (荷兰) matches will be shown live on CCTV 5. You can also view the matches online at the QQLive WorldCup Live page (in Chinese). You perhaps have to download an installer for the QQLive software, but it's only a few MB and installation is just a few clicks. Very easy.

Last Updated ( Saturday, 26 June 2010 )
Dutch elections in China
This article is aimed at Dutch voters who live in China and would like to cast their votes for the upcoming elections. The rest of this article is therefore in Dutch.

Ik heb de volgende email van het consulaat in Guangzhou ontvangen, de inhoud is handig voor alle Nederlandse stemgerechtigden die in China wonen en niet meer bij een Nederlandse gemeente staan ingeschreven. Ik kwam er ook achter dat de nieuwe website van het de Nederlandse ambassade nu online staat. Ziet er een stuk mooier uit!
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 17 March 2010 )
Chinese Ayis
An Ayi (Chinese pronounciation for the characters 阿姨, sounds like ahj-ee) literally means "auntie" but in general it refers to domestic helpers. They are generally middle-aged rural women who earn a living by helping in the household of an urban middle/high-income family. They do cleaning, buying food, cooking, washing etc. Ayis cost about 2000 to 3000 RMB/month.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 05 August 2010 )
International schools Shenzhen
Shenzhen has a large expat community nowadays and many people bring their children to the city. Many foreigners like to send their children to International schools and kindergartens in the city, but some also opt to pick local Chinese schools. There certainly are many good local Chinese schools and this allows your child to learn Mandarin at a native level. This page will give an overview of the international schools in Shenzhen and also provides some tips about picking a local Chinese school. International schools such as SIS in Shekou are not cheap: they cost well over 150.000 RMB per year! Even good Chinese kindergartens are not cheap though, starting at well over 1000 RMB/month.
Last Updated ( Tuesday, 26 October 2010 )
Individual Income Tax China
This guide helps you to understand income tax in China and even provides tips how to pay less tax! Individual Income Tax (IIT) is a form of tax you have to pay over your salary in China. Your employer should already withhold the correct amount of tax so for individuals it's very easy. The tax levels in Shenzhen/China progressively increase from 3% to 45% (for the part of your salary over 100K rmb/month). Chinese nationals don't have to pay tax over the first 2000RMB 3500RMB (as of 1st Sept 2011) of their income and foreigners enjoy a tax-free limit of 4800RMB. With the help of the table below, it's easy to calculate how much tax you have to pay in China:

update 10th July 2011, new tax rates from September 1st 2011 added.

How to pay less tax in China

Last Updated ( Sunday, 10 July 2011 )
Old Chinese documents
Some pictures of old Chinese documents, just for sake of coolness :)
university degree cover from 1962

Last Updated ( Saturday, 23 January 2010 )
Dutch Consulate Guangzhou China
The Dutch Consulate in Guangzhou has moved to a new location in the middle of 2009. I have visited the old location once before to apply for a visa, but last friday (8th of Januari 2010) I needed to go to the new location to fetch some papers regarding marriage in the Netherlands.

When you come from Shenzhen and don't drive your own car, taking the bus is the easiest way (60RMB from Shenzhen to Guangzhou, takes about 2 hours). You can get on at the transport hub in Futian district . There are several ticket counters on the first floor and there you buy a ticket to Guangzhou East Railway station. You need to get off before East Railway station though, at Ti yu zhong xin (sport center). When you get off the bus, turn around and you will see two very high buildings. The left building (while looking back) is the Teem Tower and that's where the Dutch consulate is housed.

Dutch Consulate's new office (left tower, 34th floor)

Last Updated ( Sunday, 10 January 2010 )
Health insurance for expats in China

This guide aims to give an (impartial) overview of some international insurance plans on offer in in China. When I first came to China in 2005, I just used a Dutch insurance (Joho – Special Isis). Because that one expired after 4 years, I was forced to take a new insurance. I wrote this guide, because apparently there are no good guides to picking an insurance for expats in China. I only found some incomplete posts on several forums.

update February 2010: I've collected lots of information from various insurance companies. I aim for a budget of around 2000 USD per year including outpatient benefits without dental benefits. For each insurance company I list down the most important considerations. It has been quite a lot of work and I'm sure there are some mistakes in the table, but I hope it's useful advice for anyone who is looking for an expat insurance in China. I provide links to each insurer so you can evaluate each plan yourself in detail.

update 2: Added more information from MSH China
update 3: december 2010, attached a document from IMG ProtExPlan.
update 4: december 2010, updated Chartis insurance: full coverage emergency evacuations

note to insurance companies or expats: if you find any errors on my page, please let me know .
Last Updated ( Thursday, 23 December 2010 )
Expats in Shenzhen

When I first came to Shenzhen at the end of 2005, there were very few foreigners on the streets. This was probably partially due to the fact that I lived in Nanshan district in a modest appartment. After I moved to Futian district in 2007, I noticed more foreigners but recently the number seems to have increased even more. For example before the Olympic Games in 2008 there really seemed to be fewer, but now at the end of 2009 it's a miracle if you don't see other foreigners.



Marriage Procedure Chinese in the Netherlands

This article explains the procedure for Marriage in the Netherlands between a Dutch guy and a Chinese girl, both living in China: us :)

Hopefully it will help other Dutch-Chinese couples in the future who decide to get married in the Netherlands (the procedure for getting married in China is much simpler - and cheaper!). It helps a lot if you have some family in the Netherlands who can help you (or if one of you is still in the Netherlands). One of the first things you can do is make an appointment for the marriage ceremony. We did this 8 months in advance. After this you can do the pre-marriage (ondertrouw) procedure.We completed the ondertrouw procedure about 3.5 months before our wedding date.


Last Updated ( Saturday, 23 January 2010 )
Work: salary, benefits and bonus

Let's start with stating the obvious: it's very hard to provide specific figures for salaries etc. Look at my article about the costs of living in Shenzhen and then you can make up your mind how much you should be earning to have a comfortable life. My advice would be anything over 10K RMB/month up to several times this depending on position and experience. When you are negotiating your salary, benefits and bonus for your new job in Shenzhen, I believe you should consider these items (housing, insurance, holidays, visa, special government policie, transport costs etc):

Last Updated ( Friday, 19 February 2010 )
Photos Shenzhen 1980 to now

Photos from Shenzhen, taken in 1980 (source) . Compare these to the photos of how Shenzhen looks currently, it's amazing. I did really not recognize Shenzhen from these photos!

Shenzhen in 1980
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 July 2010 )
Seeing a doctor

The quality of the doctors in China varies greatly. Even in the best hospital of Shenzhen (Peking University hospital) the quality does not always seem as good. One example: I went to the hospital and when you register for a consult, you need to say if you want to see an expert doctor or just anyone. We picked an expert (it was only 8RMB in total anyway!). After waiting for a while in the waiting room, the doctor could see us. Downstairs we had read her resume, and it looked impressive. But what a shock!

Last Updated ( Saturday, 13 June 2009 )
Penalties working in China without permission

Luckily my employer takes care of all the formalities related to working in China (Foreign Expert Certificate + Work Visa), but I often see stories about people who work in China without the right paperwork. I wouldn't advice to do this; it's much safer to register and go through the paperwork. 

So what are the penalties if you don't do it? It was not so easy to find out (I'm not a layer), but it seems the document "Rules Governing the implementation of the law of the People's Republic Of China on the Entry and Exit of Aliens " lists the relevant rules:

Last Updated ( Friday, 05 June 2009 )
Nederlanders in Shenzhen

dutch_flag_minbuzaEr is een kleine Nederlandse gemeenschap in Shenzhen, op dit moment gebruiken we ShenzhenStuff Dutch Group,maar ik ben van plan om in de toekomst hier meer informatie toe te voegen.

Ik raad alle Nederlanders aan om zich te registreren bij het Consulaat in Guangzhou . Ik heb altijd goede ervaringen met ze gehad.  'Vrijwillige registratie ' is erg eenvoudig: download dit Word document en e-mail het naar This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . Wanneer je geregistreerd staat, wordt je op de hoogte gehouden van evenementen zoals 'Koninginnedag', 'Nieuwjaarsreceptie' etc.

Dit e-mail adres is beschermd door spambots, u heeft Javascript nodig om dit onderdeel te kunnen bekijken   


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 28 January 2009 )
Health care

Below a list of hospitals, dentists and clinics in Shenzhen. Be sure also to read my article about insurances for expats in China


doctorShenzhen People’s Hospital

    Add: 1017 Dongmen Road North, Luohu District (罗湖区东门北路1017号)

    Tel: 2553-3018

Minglun Dentistry

    Add: 1/F, Dongjia Building, Jiabin Road, Luohu District (罗湖区嘉宾路东佳大厦一楼)

    Tel: 2518-5505

Arrail Dental

    Add: Diwang Masion, 5002 Shennan Thoroughfare, Luohu District (罗湖区深南中路5002号信兴广场地王商业中心)

    Tel: 2583-5788



Last Updated ( Monday, 15 February 2010 )
Jobs in Shenzhen

Shenzhen is quite an international city and there are plenty of jobs for foreigners, but most positions are for English teachers. There are a few job sites for foreigners in Shenzhen:

ShenzhenStuff classifieds

ShenzhenParty classifieds

Besides these two websites, there are various Chinese jobsites (51job, zhaopin etc) that also cover Shenzhen. These sites are mainly targeting a Chinese audience.

Teachers in Shenzhen should be native English speakers with at least a BSc. degree and can expect a salary over 10.000Y/month, accommodation and relaxing working hours.


My person story:

when I first came to Shenzhen in early 2006 I also found it very hard to find an interesting job, even though with my background (MSc. Computer Science) I would have been able to easily find a job in the Netherlands. I first did some freelance work, and was lucky that Tencent hired me as a recent graduate without working experience.

At the moment, because of the financial crisis, it is much more difficult to find a job. Tencent for example is also hiring fewer people and only considers people with exceptional technical skills. If you want to come to Shenzhen now, perhaps you could consider first studying Chinese for a few months at Shenzhen Universit. It will look great on your resume, you will come into contact with more people in Shenzhen, have more time to look for jobs and it's just very useful :)

When you study Chinese, you can also apply for a special student visa which has a longer validity than normal tourist visas I believe.


Last Updated ( Wednesday, 07 January 2009 )
Chinese Drivers License

If you have a valid drivers licence from your home country with at least 60 days prior to expiration you can apply at the Xili Drivers Licence Office. You can't drive with international driver's licence here in China as they don't honor it as valid licence.

  1. you have to Notarize your licence in Shenzhen, they had couple of notary offices there, they will translate it into chinese.
  2. you have to go to the Xili Drivers Licence Office. There you will have an eye exam, after passing, then with your notarize document along with your drivers licence plus photos and passport copy you have to submit it at the 2nd floor office, they will give you schedule of the Chinese Driver's Exam. Normally it's every 15th and 30th of the month.
  3. the Chinese Driver's Exam, it's literally in Chinese. You'll be given exams in Chinese which does not really make sense since most of us do not understand Chinese. The way how to deal with this is that every examinee has to bring an English interpreter with valid English Certification. I suggest you post ad here as there are many Chinese here who can help you with the exam. Mine, I passed on the second try. Mind you that passing grade is 90 out of 100. They are handing book at the exam place for your interpreter to review, you can have a glance also so you'll know about road rules in China.
  4. after you pass the exam which you'll know the result straight away after you finish the exam, they will take digital photo to place in the drivers licence. Then 15 days after you can pick up the licence at the same office. There are nothing to pay in any of these procedures, however you will have to pay the interpreter and the notary public.
Schools Shenzhen
This article has been updated with lots of new information in the beginning of 2010. View the new list of International Schools in Shenzhen .
Last Updated ( Monday, 01 March 2010 )
Cost of living in Shenzhen

Shenzhen is one of the most expensive cities to live in China, but still relatively cheap compared to most Western major cities.To give you an indication of how much things cost, I collected some prices. I'm sure prices will vary a bit depending on where you buy and which brand you buy, but this should give you a good indication. I rarely eat in Western restaurants and have adopted a Chinese eating pattern. If you enjoy Western restaurants, you obviously will spend more. Living costs are relatively most expensive, house prices came down in 2008, but have risen a lot again and buying a house in a good location in Shenzhen is expensive.

The areas near the border with HongKong (traditionally Futian and Luohu, but now also increasingly Nanshan) are a bit more expensive to live. Living in the center also has other benefits, for example closer to library, more shopping malls, more restaurants etc. Bao'an is currently fast expanding and when the subway finishes in 2011, Bao'an will be more convenient to live as well. Whenever you go to Bao'an (where the airport is) you definitely feel that it's further away from the center: less high buildings, broader roads, less people.

Compared to the Netherlands, Shenzhen is still much cheaper to live. Especially eating in restaurants in much cheaper. House prices had gone up a lot and were approaching Dutch levels, but have since dropped off quite a lot; since the start of 2009 they are rising again. Never trust prices you see advertised online, but come here and look around. Because house prices dropped so much, it's now easy to find a place to rent. Also realize that 100m2 is already quite big in China and it should cost below 5000Y/month. (I sometimes see advertisements targeted at foreigners asking ridiculous prices -be warned and just look around and bargain). 

Last Updated ( Friday, 19 February 2010 )
Residence permit for foreigner in China

All foreigners in China need a visa. In 2008 China has created stricter rules and started to enforce existing rules more strictly. For example it is quite difficult/impossible to get an F-visa or L-visa for over 30 days at the moment. Possibly this will be relaxed after the Olympic Games, but there is no way to tell at the moment. On this page I give practical information about a Z-visa / Residence permit for foreigner in China. According to the guy at work who helps me, a Z-visa == residence permit.  Read more to see a copy of my visa.

If you already have a Z-visa, you probably also have a Foreign Expert Certificate. Before I started to work, my employer helped me to obtain this certificate, which takes the form of a small book, very similar in shape and colors to a passport:


Foreign Expert's Certificate China 2006/2007


Last Updated ( Thursday, 28 August 2008 )
Temporary Residence Registration

All foreigners in China need to be registered with their local PSB (Public Security Bureau, like Police station). This rule has existed for a long time, but was never enforced strictly. From July the 1st 2008, they will start to enforce the rules more strictly: with fines of up to 5000 RMB! It is strongly recommended that all expatriate personnel living in apartments in China register with the local PSB prior to July 1st to avoid problems. Read more below for the procedure and who need to do it.

Last Updated ( Friday, 27 June 2008 )
Cheap International Calling
Today, people aren’t sitting in their homes like they did decades ago. They travel the world for business, vacation, career, adventure, and for so many reasons. You are occupied with so many activities and you have no time to attend or talk to your family living in another country. Hence staying in touch has become a priority to create and maintain a relation with your loved ones around the world.

It is important to have a regular mechanism to stay connected with your sphere of family and friends. Distance cannot actually keep you apart in such a small world. Unlike earlier days, calling miles away home would barely add on to your usual expense. Many calling services have introduced online phone cards that are more convenient and modern. You can talk for long hours to anyone in any country and can save your hard earned money. You can make cheap international calls from any mobile or landline to any place in the world.


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 31 August 2010 )
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