The schools we work with provide the most lucrative compensation packages in the industry. Live great and save extra money!

Learn More

Most options

Great schools nationwide with options for Professional, Experienced and beginner teachers in almost every subject!

Learn More

Outstanding Support

A personal placement consultant as your sole point of contact through the whole process.

Learn More

To many of us the thought of going to a third tier Chinese city can be pretty daunting. Although, if you’re looking to experience the “real” China there is no other option.

 For those who are new to China, or never heard of this terminology, Chinese cities are generally classified into three tiers, simply: first, second, and third.  First tier cities are the cities that all of us know about, Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.  Second tier cities are those that might have similar populations as the first tier giants but are a little less famous and modernized.  Examples being, Chongqing, Wuhan, Tianjin, Dalian, Changsha, and Harbin.  Finally, third tier cities are China’s hinterland, far beyond the exposure of western media and influence.

When I first came to China I was offered the opportunity to take a teaching position in a third tier city, Liuzhou, Guangxi. I was nervous at first, unsure of the availability of western comforts, food and lifestyle but with a positive attitude and willingness to indulge in Chinese culture, Liuzhou offered an experience that couldn’t be matched by a bigger city.

My favorite part of Liuzhou, and that I miss the most, is how warm and hospitable the locals are. Westerners don’t make it to this small corner of China very often, so walking through the streets sometimes made you feel like a minor celebrity. While the stares and random shouts of “HELLO!” and “laowai” get annoying at times, it was a typical occurrence that a local would invite me to his or her home for dinner or a beer at a bar. Such hospitality seldom happens in the bigger cities. It is because of this warmth and hospitality, many of the local people I met during my two years in Liuzhou will remain lifetime friends.

Another great advantage of small cities is how much cheaper daily life can be. The most obvious case I’ve come across is taxi fares. In Shanghai, taxis start at 14 Yuan during the day and 18 Yuan after 11:00 in the evening. Compare this to the rates in Liuzhou, flag fall being 3 Yuan plus a 3 Yuan fuel surcharge added onto the final meter price. At this rate, I could get from my house on the outskirt of town to the city center for a mere 12 Yuan. Food prices are also considerably less.  It was possible to get a bowl of the local specialty “Luosifen” (noodles in a broth plus vegetables and a bit of meat) for 5 Yuan, similar dishes in Shanghai start at 10-15 Yuan.

If friendly locals are the best part of small cities, the camaraderie experienced with the other expats follows close behind.  Unless you are truly in the countryside the chances of being the only foreigner in your city is essentially zero. In a city like Liuzhou with an urban population of 1.5 million, the expat population was near 100-150 people.  The fact that everyone is going through the same challenges and has similar stories draws you together very quickly.  I always got excited around September and February, when new teachers would arrive at the several schools authorized to hire foreigners. During this time I was able to share my experience with new friends and help them adjust to life in their new environment.

While there are many great advantages living in small Chinese cities there are challenges to be had. The biggest challenge faced by westerners is the lack of decent western food. Don’t get me wrong, I love Chinese food but there are instances I just need some spaghetti. If it’s any consolation there are many western products and brands that have made their way into China.  Liuzhou for example, had a McDonalds, five KFCs and two Pizza Huts.  The three former are well recognized brands by every Chinese citizen as famous western food brands.

Another challenge faced is the much feared squat toilet. While slowly losing favor to the sit-down variety, squat toilets are very prevalent throughout China and greater Asia. I have heard several new arrivals claim that they refuse to ever use one but following up a few weeks later they have grown into their new surroundings and assimilated their toilet usage. Although sometimes unpleasant, this is just one of those things everyone will have to grow accustomed to during their stay in China, even in Shanghai!

In closing, if you’re considering a job in a second or third tier city my first suggestion is: go for it! Once you get accustomed to living in a small city and the challenges it brings, you’ll have the courage and know-how to live anywhere in China. Lack of good western food, squat toilets and the extra attention brought to you because you look different than nearly all the people around you, will most likely be the only hard challenges you will face. All of these things are easily overcome by a positive attitude.

Written by Matt Wiersum


Nomad stories

7 Chinese Superstitions

7 Chinese Superstitions

  Just like this Chinese woman who threw coins into an...

27 Jul 2017

My First Year of Teaching

My First Year of Teaching

  My first-year teaching was an unforgettable experience. I left my...

24 Jul 2017

12 Chinese Chopsticks Don'ts

12 Chinese Chopsticks Don'ts

  Here is a little etiquette to survive Chinese dinners!

20 Jul 2017

5 Tips for China first-time travellers

5 Tips for China first-time travellers

  Here are the things to consider when traveling to China...

06 Jul 2017

Teaching Abroad with a Family

Teaching Abroad with a Family

  Is it possible to move abroad with your children? The short...

06 Jul 2017

What to do when you have a two-month holiday?

What to do when you have a…

  Very few get to enjoy the long summer break that...

04 Jul 2017

12 Times China Broke a Random Guinness Record

12 Times China Broke a Random Guinness…

  Longest wall, largest population, longest bridge… If China did break...

30 Jun 2017

How to Save Up for a Gap Year Adventure

How to Save Up for a Gap…

  Gap year adventures are a trend that is continually gaining...

29 Jun 2017

Happy Teaching Nomads

  • Kimmi, USA  Placed in Shanghai

    Kimmi, USA Placed in Shanghai

    I truly appreciate all the work that Teaching Nomad did upon arriving to Shanghai. Teaching Nomad helped with everything else once I landed, from paperwork to directions. Everyone at the agency is wonderful and extremely helpful and welcoming.
  • Rafael, USA  Placed in Shanghai

    Rafael, USA Placed in Shanghai

    Teaching Nomad was by far the easiest process I have gone through. I was able to get all the information I needed to continue with the job application. It was quick, efficient, friendly, and effective (I got the job).
  • Andrew, USA  Placed in Shanghai

    Andrew, USA Placed in Shanghai

    I didn't know what professionalism was until I started working with Teaching Nomad. They have always responded to my questions and comment promptly and in a friendly manner. With Teaching Nomad I have truly found my dream contract.
  • Elsie,SA  Placed in Shanghai

    Elsie,SA Placed in Shanghai

    Teaching Nomad helped me at a time in my life when I needed to make a positive career move. They helped me find a position in which I feel challenged, motivated and where I have the opportunity to develop my skills and knowledge as a teacher.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4

Teaching Nomad is your connection to teaching in Asia & The Middle East! We are a western owned and operated teacher placement agency with offices in Denver & Shanghai. We take a lot of pride in connecting teachers with great teaching opportunities.


Jobs on WeChat

wechat QR code


Contact Us

   Kangding Road No.1018, Third Floor, Suite 306 Shanghai, Prc

   1660 S.Albion St. Suite 911, Denver,CO USA

 (+86) 21 8031 8819

 (+1) 720 531 6136