COMMUNICATION (Accomplish on Day 1):
- Cell phone card for your mobile phones (iPhone) with a mobile plan. You just need your passport as your personal ID. (If you need an address and don’t have an apartment yet, you can use a friend’s.)
- A QQ account for each person. This will allow you to use the QQ messenger on your computer or mobile device and also give you an email address to use in China when you need to register.
- Chinese email account, because China blocks many websites, they don’t allow certain “firstname.lastname@example.org” emails accounts when you register for things inside the country. Therefore it is best to use a Chinese account. QQ email (above) is the quickest and easiest.
- A WeChat account for each person with a smartphone. Remember your password for this. Also, you need to connect your new mobile number, email, QQ to this for protection. Once you have a bank account you can connect your bank card to this to transfer money to others or pay your cell phone bill. You can also connect an American credit card.
- If you already have an apartment rented when landing in China (through the help of friends) then you need register at the local police station within the first 24 hours (the whole family must go). Otherwise, you need to stay at a hotel which will automatically register you.
APPS (Accomplish on Day 1 or prior to arrival):
- Download Pleco and purchase all of the available dictionaries, add-ons, fonts, etc. As a student of Chinese, this app and all the options will be helpful to you. A husband and wife can share one account.
- Download (if you already haven’t) a VPN app for all of your internet devices.
- Download the following helpful apps: Food Delivery Apps: McDonald’s, KFC, Eleme. Bank Apps: ICBC, CCB. Other Apps: Taobao, Alipay, Air Pollution, Baidu Maps, Didi DaChe.
BANKING (Accomplish on Day 1-2):
- ICBC and CCB are both banks in China that you can sign up for a Chinese bank account without much hassle. You just need a passport (and possibly an address—use a friend’s if you don’t have one). The account you will open will just be a Chinese Debit Card account (bank card). Each account just has one card and one person connected to it. Therefore, each person (husband and wife) need their own personal cards. You can’t share an account in China.
- Mobile Banking should be activated at the same time you get the bank card. Just let the clerk know when you are signing up. You do this at the bank. The mobile banking will allow you to use the app on your smart phone.
- Internet banking should be activated at the same time you get the bank card. Just let the clerk know when you are signing up. You do this at the bank. The internet banking will allow you to login online access your account and also give you someone kind of “key” to protect your account and others using your card online.
- ATM should be located around where you live and which bank you will use. Learn how to take out money and deposit them into the ATMs for your Chinese and American accounts.
HOUSING (Accomplish on Day 3-10):
- Look for an apartment. Look online, ask Realtors and setup appointments to see the apartments.
- Get the money out of the ATM to rent the apartment. You will probably need to call your bank in America to get your daily limit raised to the max so you can get the money out in a reasonable amount of time. (Also, let your bank in America know you are living in China, otherwise, the fraud alert of using your card in China will freeze your account.)
- Sign the contract for the apartment and pay the money.
- Get the official address for the apartment. Make sure it is written fully in the Chinese style of writing address. (Use this address for all future paperwork.)
- Register at the local police station once everything is ready and you have the needed paperwork (the whole family must go).
- Remodeling or installations, such as painting or air conditioners, are best to do before you move in because it usually causes a mess.
- Start buying furniture. Once the apartment is rented, you have the keys in hand and you know the address, then you can start shopping around for furniture. This can be along the process, but it is best to focus on the necessities within the first ten days, such as mattresses and bedroom furniture; refrigeration and kitchen appliances; wash, dryer and bathroom necessities; dining room table and living room furniture. (This will probably take longer than 10 days to find everything you want and also for everything to be delivered to your new place, but this is something that you should start within the first 10 days. It is based on how long it takes to rent an apartment.)
UTILITIES (Accomplish on Day 8):
- The Internet, once you rent the apartment, you need to have the internet setup.
- Electric, water, and gas should already be setup and you can talk with the homeowner when renting the apartment to find out the specifics and how to pay.
- TV – You can get cable TV (normal Chinese channels). Or buy a TianMao TV Box. This will allow you to watch Chinese TV and English TV over your Wifi connection in your apartment with no monthly fees.
ONLINE SHOPPING (Accomplish on Day 9):
- Taobao – Once you have your apartment rented and bank accounts setup, you can setup your Taobao account. There is no English so you will need a friend to help you set it up.
- Alipay – This is like the Chinese version of Paypal and you need to have your bank account setup with ICBC to verify the account and you can use it to make online purchases.
- Elong – Setup and Elong account to be able to purchase plane tickets and hotels inside China. This is a great service that you can use your credit card with for traveling and for emergencies because you can call and book a hotel or flight on the phone if they have all your info already in the system.
SCHOOLING (Accomplish on Day 10):
*This can be delayed until after the first 10 days if arriving a month or so before school starts.
- Make contact with your school and find out when all the deadlines are and when they need your documents turned in and when you are applying for the new student visa, etc.
- Find out all the requirements and the first day of class.
- Get a physical for the school.
- Register children for kindergarten. Start working on needed paperwork. (Pending on the apartment.)
Finally, have fun!