Life Hacks

Tips & Tricks on how to make your Expat life in China easier.

The life of an expat is very exciting! You get to experience new cultures and explore amazing places BUT it does come with its challenges… Especially when you move to a country like China where everything is different, the language is not even remotely familiar and things are done in a manner you never thought possible. And yes, often you find yourself thinking “How the hell am I supposed to do that?!” … And yes, you are often referring to a trivial day-to-day errand you used to do robotically back home. Now, you have absolutely no idea what to do, where to go or even how to ask for it.

This is where the Expat community can help! Mostly, so far, it has been a word-of-mouth game… Here’s how it goes: you meet new people -> you share your pain -> they say “Ah, yes! I went through the same thing. Here’s what you should do…” and they go on to save you from your suffering. Months later, the roles are reversed.

But what happens when people move without having the chance to share their wisdom? Or, more importantly, what happens if you don’t run into someone that knows the solution until it is too late?!

Here is where we come in! This post will collect useful day-to-day hacks for newly arrived expats so they don’t have to conduct their own interviews everywhere they go. Feel free to add your own words of wisdom and uncovered life hacks in the comments section below so we all make our lives easier by sharing and retaining info for the current community and feature new-comers. They’ll thank us later 😉

life hacks - word abstract in vintage letterpress printing blocks stained by color inks with a cup of coffee


WeChat – must have! Can’t live in China without it! The ultimate Social Media, contacts, utility payments, mobile pay, location sharing and so much more

Betternet – Free VPN for iOS (you can even download it while in China – but better take care of that prior to arrival)

ChineseSkill – user friendly app for learning basic Chinese – believe me, you need it!

Google Translate – it works even without VPN so you should definitely have it!

Health & Wellness:

Aquasana (Aquasana Beijing)- Water filter system, easily installed on your tap water and shower. It cleans the water while retaining the healthy minerals so you can drink directly from the tab (no more dependency on delivered bottles of water).

AirVisual – Air Quality / Pollution tracking app

3M Pollution Masks – supermarket simple starter mask, than you can get the more sophisticated types


Sherpa – food delivery

Mobike, Ofo, etc. – shared bikes – can’t miss them – they are everywhere. For now, only Mobike’s app has English

Didi – taxi service with English option – online shopping with English option…for the most part

Groups & Organizations:

INN (International Newcomers Network) – Beijing info and meet up events for newcomers

British Club Beijing – though “The British Club” by name, this non-profit social group is a true mix of nationalities. Its program of activities is aimed at entertaining and informing its members and guests on different aspects of life in Beijing. Meetings range from informal coffee mornings, talks, Christmas lunches and occasional outings around Beijing.

ANZA Beijing – Australian-New Zealand organization but it accepts all foreign nationalities

Beijing International Society – focused on exploring and understanding China’s culture

Viva Beijing – professional women’s network

InterNations – Social gatherings, events, interest groups to meet new people from the international community

Social Life:

The Beijinger – magazine

Time Out Beijing – magazine

City Weekend – magazine

Beijing Kids – family resource

Rule #1 is always try to learn the culture and create a social circle – it is easier when you base it on common interests so browse for workshops, classes and activities where you can meet your future friends 🙂 

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