EF Education First Teachers

Welcome to Shenzhen - What to Prepare for

When people think of China, they think of the food, the long history and the pollution, but those coming to China to work, like you’re planning to have to think of many other things. As you are amongst those who are joining us in EF Shenzhen (That place next to HK), I’d like to take this chance to talk about some of those nerve-wracking things you might encounter, and give you advice about how to deal with those issues so you have a stress-free, fun-filled experience in Shenzhen.

Your Apartment

Because of Shenzhen’s strict Visa application policy, foreigners are required to find an apartment very quickly after arriving, sign a lease and give it to your visa officer. Sounds daunting, doesn't it?

Don’t worry, there’s plenty of help around and plenty of choices in this city. When you begin the on-boarding process, you’ll be given a hotel room for the first two weeks, so use that to the fullest. EF suggests the name of several agents you can get in contact with that will give you a few options to look at. Furthermore, once you know where your centre is, you can always look on various expat sites, such as www.shenzhenparty.com to see what prices are like.

When you get to your centre, your fellow teachers are more than happy to offer some potential choices where they live, so this will definitely reduce your stress levels a bit.

Remember, while you won’t probably get the perfect apartment, be picky! If there’s something you don’t like, tell them! Agents want to offload their worst apartments first, so spend your time wisely, tell them what you’re looking for, and find that place you’re willing to spend the next year at.


When people think about China, they think of the pollution that affects the lives of many. Thankfully, for those coming to Shenzhen, you don’t have to worry too much about that. Shenzhen is ranked as the sixth-cleanest city in China, and while the air might be slightly dirtier than where you came from, it’ll be fine for you to go out, and live your lives as you did back home. Shenzhen is also home to plenty of green space, so you can go out, jog, go hiking in places like Hongshulin, mountain climbing on Mount Wutong or just relax in a park.

One warning for you is to never drink the tap water, always drink bottled water, unless you've boiled tap water first.


Whenever we go to a new place you do notice what’s different about this city compared to where we used to live, or where we used to work. China will be no different, especially those used to Western customs and manners.

People coming are often shocked at some behaviours shown by our hosts in the street and and even in our centres. The best thing to do to prepare, is to find out how we’re different, and just accept it. We’re guests here, and while we’ll gripe about differences, we should also embrace them as this will make our stay here that much better.

So that’s what the major challenges for people are in a short blog-post. Remember, moving to a new place is always a challenge, but you have the advantage of having a great support network already in place and you’re moving to one of the most vibrant and cleanest cities in China. Look forward to seeing you here.

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Comment by Suzanne Magee on April 7, 2017 at 2:43am
How do people there feel about tattoos? Mine are coverable but just wondering.
Comment by Shintaro Koido on April 4, 2017 at 10:53am

Some things are about not getting angry with pushing in line, or people coming up to you because you're a foreigner. Foreigners are still considered rare and people will come say hi or ask for photos. They will also ask you to add you on WeChat, the major social media platform here. For eating, a major difference is the expectation to share food, dinners with chinese people are mainly ordering many main dishes and sharing with them, there's no real 'order your own food' concept. Another thing that some might gripe about is spitting, which while frowned upon, is done by those of the older generation. 

Comment by Toni Edwards on March 29, 2017 at 10:49pm

I'm excited!

Comment by Teacher Recruitment & Training on November 3, 2016 at 1:57pm

@Katherine....as most people who live in Shenzhen have actually moved here from other provinces, there's much more Mandarin than Cantonese.

Comment by Katherine Wolf on November 3, 2016 at 12:59pm

I was told that the majority of people in Shenzhen speak Cantonese rather than Mandarin. I know that 1) I will not be fluent enough in either one by the time I leave to make a huge difference and 2) there are a lot of expats in Shenzhen and I'll likely be able to speak English most of the time, but I'd like to know what I should be spending my language learning time on.
Thanks for this post! It's very helpful.

Comment by shaneen on September 2, 2016 at 2:28pm

awesome! thanks!

Comment by Kimberly R. Moore on April 16, 2016 at 1:28pm

Thank you for taking the time to share, it is appreciated. Great advice!


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