Ah, China and India, two countries that many in Singapore would be very familiar with. Or are they?
Well, while Singapore is a cosmopolitan country with influences from many corners of the world and different cultures, there will still be essential matters you should be aware of beforehand, as well as changes you need to ready yourself for, if you move to one of these countries. Like Singapore, they’re in Asia, but some changes are so significant that you have to know them in order to ease your move.
Here’s a checklist to go through the very basics of setting up your new home whether it is in Beijing, Shanghai, Chennai or New Delhi. Before you get moving physically to your new home, be sure to contact professional international movers to China and India, as they have the experience and most updated knowledge on navigating your move to these countries.
Knowing how to pay for goods and services is another major part of managing your move. Both countries have something special to offer (hint: go cashless!), so read on to see how you can make safe and convenient payments:
China is one of the first countries in the world that have transformed into a cashless society. Today, 95% of businesses in China accept payment through apps – whether you’re purchasing meals, clothing, or even paying your bills and rent, everything can be done with a few taps on your smartphone!
The top mobile paying apps in China are Alipay and WeChat. Both apps allow foreigners to use international credit cards to make payment, so you don’t actually need to have a Chinese bank account if you don’t need to. Find out more about using payment apps in China here.
Payment methods in India are pretty much the same as anywhere else in the world, but there’s one that you may not be well acquainted with.Besides credit and debit cards, you can also get pre-paid cards from major banks for safe and convenient payment options.
Some companies even use pre-paid cards to disburse salaries to their employees!
Staying connected will be another one of your priorities, so one of the first things you want to do when you reach your new home country would be to sign up for a phone line.
Upon arrival, you can purchase a China Unicom SIM card to access local telecom service. You can buy it from official physical China Unicom’s website or China Telecom. Bring your patience with you, as you can expect to take 2hrs to complete a transaction.
The key question here is whether you’ll be able to use your phone or SIM card in China. Some phones are locked for international use, which means that you can ONLY use the SIM card provided by your contracted provider unless you pay a fee to enable use with another SIM card.
The popular option is to get a bundle deal with a Chinese plan and phone, as they are relatively inexpensive.
Alternatively, if you’d like to keep your Singapore number, you can check with your telco if you can use your SIM card in China. You’ll probably have to pay some administrative fees, but the convenience of retaining your old number may be worth the costs.
It is relatively easy to get a China based mobile number by buying a sim card. This is usually prepaid, so when purchasing your SIM, lease ask to buy credits as well. If you want to get a post-paid bill and phone number, you will need to provide the same documentation as is with opening a bank account and place a deposit with the telco.
It seems quite contradictory that you need a mobile bill to open a bank account, and a bank account to open a telco account. A tip is to wait for your first months’ utility bill to reach you before starting the process of getting a postpaid telco account and a WeChat Pay account.
Getting a phone connection in India isn’t as straightforward – you will need to submit a comprehensive list of documents that include
- Documents of local address
- Proof of home address
- Name and contact number of local reference
You can sign up for both pre- and post-paid payment plans. Do note that tourist pre-paid plans have a maximum three-month validity. Likewise for China, if you’d like to keep your Singapore number, you can check with your telco if you can use your SIM card in India. You’ll probably have to pay some administrative fees, but the convenience of retaining your old number may be worth the costs.
Banking processes are similar across the world, so you shouldn’t have many problems getting your banking done. Here are some details and tips to help you have an easier time.
While your Mastercard and Visa will work in most parts of China, some bank terminals may not accept bank cards from foreign countries. If you are staying in China in the long-term, it will be more convenient to open a bank account there. The four major banks in China are:
- Bank of China (BoC)
- China Construction Bank (CCB),
- Agricultural Bank of China (ABoC),
- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC)
Opening a bank account in China is much like opening it anywhere else. Administration-wise, bring along these documents:
- Proof of residence in China (utility or phone bill that’s been mailed to your address in your name).
- Work permit/visa
If you do not speak Mandarin, it is advisable to get a Mandarin-speaking friend to help you, especially if you are moving to one of the smaller cities or towns. Even between the large cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, there are differences when it comes to the rules and regulations of opening a bank account. To ensure that you always have funds with you, make sure you keep enough cash. Else, Visa, Mastercard works just as well at larger shopping malls. For smaller food and retail outlets or taxis, WeChat Pay is your #1 choice, and it is worth your while to set up your WeChat Pay account.
You will need:
- Wechat account
- Your Passport
- A chinese bank card
- Your mobile phone number linked with your bank card.
Here’s a handy 2-min guide for you to see how to set up your WeChat Pay account.
Most banks in India offer “non-resident” accounts for expats. In fact, many international banks have a presence in India, so you may want to check with your bank about your banking options. However, if you’d like to go with local Indian banks, the major banks in the country are:
You will need to bring along these documents:
- Proof of identity (passport or driving license)
- Proof of address in India (utility or phone bill that’s been mailed to your address in your name)
- Recent photograph
Do note that most bank accounts in India are not free of charge; you have to pay a monthly maintenance fee. ATM debit cards are not free as well.
For a more detailed guide, click here.
There’s culture shock… and there’s food culture shock. Chinese and Indian food may be familiar to you, but there are some things you should take note of when you’re having such cuisines in their home countries.
You probably aren’t too much of a stranger to Chinese food – Chinese food can be found in just about anywhere in the world. However, if you’re going to be in China for the long-term, Chinese food won’t be “that occasional indulgence” – it’ll be your daily life!One thing to look out for is oil, salt and soy sauce. Those are the key ingredients that make Chinese food so yummy, but those are also the very ingredients that are unhealthy!
So, when you’re ordering, try to request for less salt and less oil. Also, don’t eat street food if you have a weak stomach.
When moved in, find a place to buy bottled water. Although the tap water in China is potable, it is best to always get it boiled first or to stick with bottled mineral water. Expect to pay a deposit for your mineral / bottled water dispenser and keep the receipt for the deposit. Most foreigners forget to collect their deposit of RMB 500 to RMB 1,000.
As we all know, Indian food is delicious and spicy – and this is the very reason you should take it easy at the beginning of your stay there. If you are moving to India, it would be prudent to gradually give your body time to adjust to the food there – otherwise, you may face some stomach upsets, which may hamper your moving progress.
The same goes for drinking water and street food. Avoid tap water or water served at restaurants and opt for bottled water. Also, steer clear from street food until your body is more well-adjusted to the environment, or at least wait till you are more or less settled in.
Same as in China, make sure you have bottled water with you always. And keep stomach upset charcoal tablets, or diarrhea pills close to you.
The preparation before moving to China and India or Malaysia can be daunting. And even more so the post-move, can be filled with more questions and obstacles than needed. If you are a seasoned traveller and global nomad, the first thing you will do to ease your move is to hire equally experienced international movers who have local offices in the city you are moving to. Moving can be daunting and you’ll likely experience some surprises along the way. However, if you prepare yourself well to adjust to your new home, you will be able to settle in and enjoy your new life as soon as possible!