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Should I move to a bigger city for the culture and better pay?


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Recently, I have been feeling that I have outgrown the city in which I currently live. Right now I live in Qingdao, China. To be honest, this city doesn’t have too much to entertain me. The expat social scene is either deadly quiet (think old farts sitting around talking smack about everything), or too wild (think african college students living their binge drinking fantasies). In nearly two years of living here, besides my roommate and my boyfriend, I haven’t found a social group here. Chinese or foreign. It hasn’t worked out. I can count on my hand the number of women without children in their late 20's, early 30's that live close enough to maintain a friendship- and I haven't clicked with any of them.


I also work for a company that really doesn’t pay me what I could be making elsewhere. The issue is that the highest paying gigs around here (for those in education) are for traditional classroom teachers in international school. I do not want to do that. I prefer working with teens who want to study abroad- helping them with standardised tests and college applications. If I do that job around here, I will make about the same as I do now- and be committed to a new job for another year in a city I don’t enjoy.


The issue is that my boyfriend will be enrolled in University for about 7 more months in this city. Now, he’s doing an internship, and self study course that allows him a lot of free time. But still, if I leave, I will see him a lot less. Currently we live together. We are madly in love, its kind of gross... haha.


I have the opportunity to move to a bigger city, such as Shanghai. Which would allow me to find more enjoyable work, give me access to more diverse cultural events, surround me with more like-minded people...etc. But I would have to live away from my boyfriend, and I would be living in a much more expensive city.... which could hurt my savings if I am not careful.


In the past, I haven’t been the best saver. What I have put away right now is the most I’ve ever had, but perhaps I’ve grown up enough not to squander it.


I also have a history of moving every 2 years. I lived in New York City for 2 years, then Osaka, Japan for 2 years, now Qingdao... I am not sure if this pattern is good, bad, or neutral...


Pros of moving:

Potential for higher income job

More interesting social life

More international city

Easier travel to other places (flights from SH are cheaper)


Cons of moving:

Another big change

Partially long distance (boyfriend has agreed to visit for a week out of every month)

Shanghai is expensive, easy to overspend!

Possible loneliness


What do you think? Is it worth the risk, or should I wait for my boyfriend to finish school and decide what to do from there?



The thought of moving is very exciting, but also a little scary. My gut says do it, but I am not sure.


I put my resume on a jobs site and have been getting people emailing me- so I think I could definitely find somewhere if I put my mind to it.

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Yes, I would definitely move. Since your bf will eventually move with you, you have no people ties to your present place. The only decision you have is when to move. I'd make a pros and cons list of moving now versus moving together with him. It's probably financially wiser to wait for him, so that you can share the rent and you won't be lonely without him.

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He's in doing a bachelors in medicine. This is his last year (the internship and exam year). When he finishes in July- he's going to go back to his home country to study and get his licence, before applying to a masters/PHD program. He doesn't plan to 'join me' there permanently. But he doesn't know when he will be ready to further his degree after graduating. It could take him a full year to pass his licensing exam. I have no plans to stay in Qingdao after he leaves.

He's from Nepal. I am not interested in living there. Neither is he. He doesn't want me to live there either.


The plan is that he applies to medical school either in the states, Australia, Singapore, or Germany. Once he gets in, we work out how I am going to go there. At the moment, we think it will be the US (I am American, it would be hard for him- but we have talked about marriage).


So the idea is, I need to find something good for me career and money-wise. That's why SH is appealing to me.


I could get a job in SH fairly quickly. I have a lot of experience and the job market is china is skewed in favor of the foreign employee.

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It's probably financially wiser to wait for him, so that you can share the rent and you won't be lonely without him.


He doesn't plan to live in SH. So I wouldn't be sharing rent with him... Also he said that he would commit to staying with me for a week out of every month.


The real issue is would I be able to keep saving money- or would I spend everything.

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Big difference whether you should and whether any of us would.


I've seen enough people stumble and fall moving into big cities unprepared and not finding work to pay the bills. Personally, I'd remote interview and potentially even fly / train out for in-person interviews prior to actually quitting your job and moving.


As far as whether you should or not... that's entirely up to you. Some people take big risks and gain big from them. Others pretty much instantly free fall. You know your life and interests better than any of us do. You're by far the most qualified to answer that question.

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When you're young, living in a big city is often times the better choice if you like things to do, new places to see, more opportunities. I did it when I was younger and have few regrets. As you get older that may and likely will change, but then again maybe not.


Regardless while you're still somewhat free to move around there is nothing to prevent you from moving, more than once even if you like, to find out what you do or don't like. Keep your options open, try it out, but line up work before you go. A city is really no place to be if you're broke and can't afford to live there.


Otherwise I'm one of those people who favor the idea of people traveling to see what else is out there and to find an area where they can grow and thrive and enjoy it.

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