Recently, CNN ran an article asking the question, “Should You Look for Work in China.” The article follows the story of two Texan-Americans, the Summer family, who decide to head to China for high tech jobs. It goes on to highlight that the number of Americans working and living abroad has increased significantly in recent years with a noticeable spike in 2010.
What I find interesting about this article from CNN is that they are missing the point. Americans are leaving the US because they have to. We left because we couldn’t find reasonable jobs. We could barely make ends meet working non-stop and living in the world’s smallest apartment. With insurance, medical bills, groceries, rent, internet and car payments, gas, phone, etc it was just too much to be met with two entry-level positions. And of course college loans had to be taken into consideration! Its like a massive trap designed from your childhood on so that you follow a certain outline and end up in college, and then of course in debt. Once in debt you have to work, you have no other choice! You have loans now. And then you trudge off to work to pay the loans but you have to have an apartment to live in, so now you have two payments. You have to have a means of transportation since there are no buses. Now you have three payments. If you are going to drive you need insurance. If you are going to work, they want you to have health insurance. You keep digging yourself into a ditch of debt that you can hardly pay off even working 5 days a week, 8 hours a day! And what time does that leave you for your own personal life?– a few hours at night spent exhausted while you sort bills and pull out your hair. No thank you! THATS why we left the US. There are not jobs that can support the basic needs of the American lifestyle. And it wasn’t even a life of luxury, as my friends and family can attest.
Abroad, you can live for cheaper. We get jobs that pay slightly less than in the US, but I’m not stuck paying car insurance, health insurance or any of the other things that slowly steal every pay check. I pay for a pay-as-you-go cell phone instead of a cut-throat Verizon contract that takes a Supreme court ruling to get out of. I avoid insurance payments because I’m less stressed and thus healthier and health care (barring major catastrophe) is more affordable. I use public transportation that cost less than 30 cents a ride. In short, I’m able to pay down my loans, save up some money and still build up a resume. Perhaps now you understand why I don’t like the expats who come over begrudgingly and complain about missing the benefits of America.
I love my country, and I’m a patriot, but I’m also a realist. Americans are leaving the country to find work elsewhere and this is a major sign that things have gotten out of control. It isn’t just me over here trying to make a better life for myself, its all of my expat friends who are doing likewise and thriving where they didn’t have the opportunity back home. They have time, like I do, for hobbies and self-cultivation. They have time, in short, to live life and not tread water just trying to get by. So, ‘Should you Look for Work in China?”– you should look for work wherever it is on the planet that will afford you the opportunity to pursue happiness instead of just survive. After all, that’s one of the three main staples of the American promise- Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
I found the CNN article missed the point (and was poorly written to boot). The title suggests moving to China in search of work, as you and Mike have done, but the subjects were relocated to China by their companies. Big difference as we both know.
I’m reminded of an article I read in an expat magazine shortly after moving to Shanghai about the “expat game” that played itself out as two expats meet for the first time and size each other up to determine the superior expat. The rules of the game are dictated by: who has been in China longer, who’s Mandarin is better, who has a local girlfriend or (less commonly) boyfriend, etc, etc. I guess you could add who arrived on the wings of a cushy expat package vs. those who made it on their own to the list. To me it’s not as important how you got to China as how you behave once you get there.
Interestingly enough, I know the Sumners. I don’t feel the need to defend them as your post explicitly wasn’t directed at this one couple in particular. Just an amazing example of how small this world is in spite of the globetrotting pursuits of our friends.
Keep up the great blogging!
Thanks for the great comment Tim.
I remember a conversation we had about expats in general, and how you pointed out, and perhaps maybe even coined to term – halfpats. As we really are not expats ourselves since we are here of our own accord. Of course we are pretty lucky and have found really amazing people on both sides of this spectrum, yourselves included, but there are a large majority of people that simply loath being here. However, I have also noticed more and more people coming here that have said, “because I don’t want to be back home right now.” It is a very unique and interesting time and an exodus, even as slight as this might be, from the US is in contrast to the entire history of the United States.