Making the BIG MOVE to Chengdu in August….

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    Hello all,

    My name is Sandi and I will be making the big move to Chengdu this August.

    I’m at the stage of waiting for my invitation letter from the Chinese government before making an application for a Z-visa,..

    And I have a couple of questions which I’m hoping you guys might be able to help me with.

    But before I begin, I would like to say firstly, that I have genuinely found ‘Chengdu Living’ to be an invaluable source of information over these last few months as I plan my move to China.

    Thanks to all of you who contribute regularly to the site, and in doing so, enable people like myself to benefit from the experiences you have had whilst living there – I have thoroughly enjoyed reading some of the articles as well as the forum posts and have often been quite amused by them. I hope that the knowledge I have gleaned from using the site will continue to serve me well when I get there.

    To say that I am absolutely terrified would be an understatement, so reading about the experiences of others has definitely helped.

    So, on with the questions…

    1) What is the best method/s of transferring money from a UK bank account to a Chinese one?

    (Despite researching the subject briefly on the ‘net, I find myself unclear as to the most effective means of doing this.)

    2) My next query relates to technology (not my strongest subject). I know that upon arrival in Chengdu, I will require to purchase a mobile phone. However, I am curious as to whether I will be able to use my lap top there to access the internet, or if I would have to buy a computer in China to do this. Or would it depend on the type of lap top that I own?

    I would very much appreciate any comments in relation to the above questions, as well as any additional information/advice/tips you feel relevant to mention.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give me!


    P.S. Hope to meet some of you for a pint in The Shamrock Bar (or wherever) when I finally make it to Chengdu!!


    Hi Sandi, good luck with the move and visas, etc.. I haven’t tried to transfer money between accounts, but I have just been using my Australian bank account here, as there are heaps of ATMs where you can take cash out. It’s worth looking into getting an account that doesn’t charge international transaction fees though, or you will get wrought.

    Once you are here I think it is easy to open a Chinese account – I got my work to help me though. Then I think you can just use western union, though wouldn’t hurt to double check this with someone else.

    I bought my phone and a new sim for about 150 kuai (about US$25), you can get a cheap nokia, or just a new sim for your existing phone. Yes, your computer will work here, you can access nearly everything except for facebook and youtube, and some outside news sites. Many people use a VPN for this, which is probably worth setting up before you come. I managed to set it up here, but it was a bit of a pain.


    For money, just call your bank and tell them that you are going to China. They will allow you to bank overseas. Exchange rate varies on the value of the current when you withdraw. There is also a limit on how much you can withdraw per day.

    If your current phone uses a sim card, just bring it over and pop in a Sim card (bring your passport to acquire a sim).

    Internet is easy. Hire someone who speaks/writes chinese to contact an internet provider and you are good. Most providers will give you a wireless modem. But to be safe, buy one from home and use it here (thats what i did).

    And the Sham.. Yea… Ill pass that place…


    Hi Tina and Jerry,

    Thank you both for your advice, some great information there and I really appreciate you taking the time to respond.

    Tina, many thanks for your kind wishes – fingers crossed the visa application, move etc pass without too much incident. That’s good to know about the ATMs – I wasn’t sure how abundant they would be there. And also helpful to know about the fees involved – I’ll be sure to look into accounts which don’t charge for withdrawals.

    I would obviously want to open a Chinese bank account when I get there and I’m pretty sure my work will help me with this. However, I just wondered what my options would be if I wanted to access my UK bank account, as it would be good to know that I had a wee ‘safety net’, at least for the first while until I’m ‘in the swing of things’. Will check out the western union also, and ask someone techie about the VPN, thanks!

    Jerry, thanks for the info, you covered a fair bit of ground there. I will most likely just opt to buy a new phone when I get there but my preference would probably be to bring my lap top with me so that’s great to know that I can do that. I also have a wireless modem already so hopefully it would work okay. Good point – need to remember to let my bank know that I’m coming to China – I’ll add that to my tick list right now.

    Thanks again guys, it really is much appreciated – I definitely owe you both a pint in the Shamrock when I get there!!!



    welcome, Sandi.

    first, it is not a good idea transferring a lot of dough over. chinese government is very restrictive on it and it could be a pain on your rear. you could simple bring enough money in and exchange them without any unwanted consequences. if you want to learn more on that, many regulars here can help you.

    your computer does work here fine with “normal” blockouts, but you could get around that using VPN. better get it setup before you move in chengdu.

    as far as phone goes, it is cheap and convenient getting a sim to put into your cell. however, there are a few things you need to get fixed, such as particular services and fees as such.

    let me know if there are more things i can do.



    Hello Sandi and welcome,

    I said bye bye to my ISP and got Gmail.The downside is that you ‘lose’ Outlook can still have Outlook Express if you look carefully at the Gmail set-up..

    Coming from UK as you are,Please remember that we drive on the ‘wrong’ side of the road!W Churchhill did not consider this and was hospitalised in the USA.FIRST!!!Look Left!!Beware the silent battery operated cycles.

    My banking experience: My bank does not ask any fees if I keep a certain minimum in my account.

    If your wireless modem is of the “Vodafone” Stick variety,forget it.Probably blocked for other providers.Get a modem where you plug in a tel line.ADSL.

    If I were you I would set up my laptop now as if I were in China.

    Remember all your medications as well as your favourite Aspirins as well.

    Your ‘soggy’ chips w’ salt and vinegar you will have to fry yourself.



    Hey Vic and Gavvie,

    Thanks a million!

    Some great info here.

    Vic, may be in touch further down the line about the ‘dough’ situation, thanks. Really appreciate your offer of further help! I’m going to begin researching VPN this week.

    Gavvie, thanks for all the info/tips etc… but wait… No Soggy Chips???

    That’s it – the trip’s off! 🙂

    Thanks again guys!



    Set up an account with internet banking in the UK if you haven’t already got one. When you arrive in China set up an account that you wish to transfer money to (this is going to be a Sterling account – because you cannot transfer RMB (Yuan)). You will need your Chinese Bank’s Branch SWIFT or IBAN number.

    HSBC Premier Service in China are VERY good and your Personal Relationship Advisor will even complete your application forms full of questions that defy translation. However you would need an HSBC Premier account both in China and the UK to get advantage of transfering funds FOC.

    The same proceedure will apply even if you do not have an HSBC Premier Account but you will pay transfer fees on top of the currency exchange fees. I have transfered (in both directions) between HSBC in the UK and the Bank of China in Chengdu with no problems.

    Send an email to your UK account and instruct them to transfer to money to your bank in China. They will need to know the amount you wish to transfer, the SWIFT or IBAN number for the recieiving bank, the Bank and Branch name and address or the receiving bank along with your Account name/number that you wish to transfer the money to. The transfer takes about 3 to 4 working days.

    Once the money has arrived in your account in China you will need to change it from Sterling into RMB and move it to an RMB account. The limit is in the region of 50,000 US$ per person, per annum. However, if you are purchasing a property or setting up a business then they will overide this limit if they are satisfied that you are not money laundering. Another way round the limit is if you have relatives here that you can claim an additional US$50,000 allowance for each.

    VPN can be difficult if you are using a wireless router – many respectable routers, such as DLink, just do not work with VPNs. If you use someone like Strong VPN then they can and will install the VPN on your computer remotely – it can be complicated if you are not technically minded.

    GMail can be flakey as it has been blocked from time to time for obscure reasons such as firing a broadside across the bows of Goggle. I use Yahoo but that can be flakey if you wish to transmit harmless pictures but is otherwise good. However, I still use a private UK email address that does not attract attention. Best advice is – have back up email addresses with different companies for rare problems.

    Beware Chinese drivers of any form of transport, both on and off the pavement, as their road sense is close to zero. CCTV have a program Monday through to Friday at 7.30pm featuring how not to navigate round Chengdu if you wish to avoid becoming a red stain on the road. Watch it if you can and you might live longer.


    Sorry for the delay in responding Merior – my computer has been ‘on the blink’.

    Thanks a million for the info, and for taking the time.

    I currently use gmail so will probably set up another account.

    Really stuck with the VPN. Think I’m just going to need to spend a good couple of hours researching it and go for one.

    Jeez, this driving in Chengdu must really be terrible – will need to refrain from using my MP3 while wandering about.

    Thanks again,



    Welcome Sandi we will be arriving end of August and have to do all those things too. We already got the bank account licked as our Uni did it for us,and we have the VPN as we were already in China last year… but we have to do the simcard thing so we can figure it out together. Let’s get a pint but not the Shamrock,okay? 😉


    Sandi —

    I know a bunch of expats use Freegate, a proxy set up by the Falun Gong. It can be faulty from time to time, but it gets the job done in terms of being free and breaking the great firewall.


    StrongVPN, pay 50 USD a year. Easily the best one in the market. StrongVPN also has a multitude of options to choose from (proxy i mean).


    Thanks guys.

    Much appreciated.

    Got my invitation letter through so it’s all go now… 😉


    Hi Sandi,

    I should be moving to Chengdun in a months time and i although i have NO advice i am in the same boat, i’m from wolverhampton in the UK and i’m coming on my own to teach English to some primary school children! So nervous

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