Thursday, November 3, 2016

It's Not All Bad

I'm sorry it's been so long since my last post, but I have not been able to establish a steady schedule yet. Living in another country tends toward chaos in almost everything you try to do for the first few months. If you follow us on Facebook, then you should be well aware that we really don't have things figured out here yet. We are learning more and more every day, but are far from understanding how things actually work.

In my last post, I wrote about figuring out how to pay our electric bill. That was two weeks ago and we are no closer to figuring out the other bills than we were when I wrote it. However, a comment on Facebook today made me realize something.

Really, Taco Bell? A month after I move to China?

Grant made me reflect on some of the things I have been posting about. Apparently, I post quite a bit about the things in China that we have found to be frustrating. I mean, there are a lot of things. Like the traffic, air pollution, lack of toilet paper (or what they call toilet paper), language barriers, government-controlled heating, surprisingly minimal ninja population, cultural misunderstandings and inability to find basic survival necessities.

I don't post enough about the things that we love about China. Like the fact that my wife and I collectively pay less than $5/month for our cell phones and that is with a data plan. This is one of the many, many, many things that are insanely cheap here. In my last post I celebrated learning how to pay my electric bill and marveled that it counted down rather than up. As long as you keep your balance above zero, you will have power. Several of you asked how long the 500¥ I put in there would last. I discovered that after 8 days of usage, our balance went down exactly 9¥. That means we are using just a little more than 1¥/day. That's 15 cents in American money.

15 cents! That's insane.

That means that at the current rate, my monthly electric bill would be about $4.50. That is $54 for the entire year. I know it will increase a bit when we start using the air conditioner in the summer, but these costs are phenomenally low. Our internet had to be paid for a year in advance. It was less than $75 for the entire year. High speed 50Gb/min internet for approximately $9/month. I was paying $80 in the States.

The cost of food is so low, there is no need to budget for it. We buy from fruit and vegetable vendors on the street almost every day and spend less than a dollar. My two favorite Chinese foods come from street vendors. One of them costs 22 cents. The other costs 75 cents and either of these is a full meal. A half liter bottle of Pepsi (about the same size as a 20 ounce) costs 47 cents. I am constantly amazed at how cheap things are here. Couple all these great prices with the fact that my income here is over four times what it was in the States and I really have nothing that I can complain about.

I have griped about the public transportation a few times, but that is mostly because I am not accustomed to it. I am growing more and more used to it. In our first month, I have spent about $15 in bus and subway fares. That is much cheaper than a car payment and insurance. I spent more than that on gas every week. Plus, other than our jobs, every thing we need is right on our block. Literally, within a few hundred feet (sorry, meters..metric system, you know) is anything we may possibly need.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love to eat and it is overwhelming to be in a city with so many different foods that I have never eaten. Everything is so good. I have only had three meals that I didn't care for. I will cover some of the fabulous Chinese foods in future posts.

Red and I both have incredibly light schedules. I work two jobs and still only clock 14 hours and 20 minutes in a work week. This leaves tons of extra time to learn the language, explore the city and write my book. You'd think I would blog more.

The hours from my primary job

On top of all the things there are here to be excited about, there is also the simple fact that it is all new to us. Every time we leave the house, we embark on a learning adventure. Some days that is exhausting, but most of the time it is very educational. I look forward to the day when we better understand this foreign land, but will be in mourning of the loss of wonder at every new thing we experience.

In the meantime, I will try to be more positive with my posts both on the blog and on Facebook. If you believe this hurts the quality of my writing, feel free to blame Grant Mitchell. Here is a link to his Facebook page. Feel free to send him any hate mail you deem necessary. I doubt it will bother me.


  1. I've been reading your wife's blog regular and keeping up with her end. But, I did not keep up the connection.

    I am far too old plus I speak with a Southern accent. I don't think the Chinese would hire me. But what a gift for adventure you two have brought on yourselves. And the prices, you'll be able to afford a home once you come back. Cheers.

    1. The plan (I hope this plan works) is to take all this extra money and apply it toward debt and retirement. I have over $100,000 in student loan debt and have $0 set aside for retirement. If we spend several years here and put our money where we intend to, it should be a very good start.

  2. I do the same thing. Sure we were happy when we became homeowners but I posted mostly about the damaged window, plumbing issues and, most of all, the extra-long commute that came with the new house. I guess it's human nature to think pointing out the challenges of a new thing makes for a more interesting story.

    1. I does make the story more fun to tell. I can joke about a bad situation and it really seems to work with the audience. Joking about something going well is more challenging.

  3. Well geez... Hate mail?! Don't blame me! haha

    I must say, this certainly did put a new spin on your adventures over there. Sounds like a much better deal than I had thought before. For me, though, I think I'll be forced to just live that life vicariously through you guys!

    1. Grant, as much as you love to travel, you have to at least come to visit.

  4. I find both types of post interesting and enlightening (I've sort of been following along even tho I haven't commented) so I say, keep up the good work! I love learning about new places, plus you get to make all the mistakes while I can sit back and read about them (while also paying $80/mo for internet).

    1. The mistakes aren't much fun when they first happen (like discovering that Chinese plumbing cannot handle toilet paper), but they do count for knowledge and good stories later.


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