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Working in China for 3+ months
Old 09-23-2008, 08:51 PM   #1
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Working in China for 3+ months

I have the opportunity with my current employer to work in Shanghai for 3+ months in CY2009. The financial incentive is that I'd continue collecting my existing salary in US Dollars plus I'd get the USD-equivalent salary in Chinese Yuan (CNY) along with other minor incentives (temp housing, plane tickets for visits, etc).

I obviously have a million logistic and tax questions I'm asking my employer and other fellow employees who have been down this path before.

I wanted to get feedback from board members who have also worked overseas. Hopefully some of you can share your experiences so that I can avoid any common pitfalls.

Thanks
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Old 09-24-2008, 11:54 AM   #2
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A fat ex-pat package? Check.
Great resume-building experience? Check.
More dumplings than you can shake a stick at? Check.

The only downside would be potential family disruption. But maybe that is not an issue for you. I'd go for it. Just don't drink the milk while you're over there.
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Old 09-24-2008, 12:20 PM   #3
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Have the employer pay for the travel and housing costs directly. All other income taxable by USA. The Yuan $ might be taxable by the Chinese - you need to check that out - if so you deduct it on your USA return as foreign taxes.
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Old 09-24-2008, 03:00 PM   #4
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Been there done that and would say to anyone that gets the chance to jump at the opportunity.

Only thing I would suggest is make sure that your employer is going to pay to get your tax obligations filed in both locations. If possible meet with a good accountant at their cost before you go.
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Old 09-24-2008, 03:08 PM   #5
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Expats Rule! Well, at least we think we do. Do it, without a doubt, but make sure they send you some photos of the house or at least you give you the chance to choose from a couple of places. Also, based on your seniority, I would ask for business class tickets.
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Old 09-24-2008, 06:50 PM   #6
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I always wanted to do that. Hopefully get a chance to see some of the country. I figured I'd take my newly minted MBA and head over there... But I had DD, so now have good reason to stay home.

Love to hear how it goes, working conditions, friendliness of natives, tourism opportunities, etc.
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Old 09-24-2008, 07:08 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slouch View Post
I have the opportunity with my current employer to work in Shanghai for 3+ months in CY2009. The financial incentive is that I'd continue collecting my existing salary in US Dollars plus I'd get the USD-equivalent salary in Chinese Yuan (CNY) along with other minor incentives (temp housing, plane tickets for visits, etc).

I obviously have a million logistic and tax questions I'm asking my employer and other fellow employees who have been down this path before.

I wanted to get feedback from board members who have also worked overseas. Hopefully some of you can share your experiences so that I can avoid any common pitfalls.

Thanks
I'd kill for a chance like that, but despite what my employer says about global opportunities and career movement, etc., you're pretty much stuck doing your existing job. Heck, I'd drink some baby formulas just for the chance!
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Old 09-24-2008, 10:20 PM   #8
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I second the advise on taxes...make sure the company picks that up for you (you should be tax equalized, meaning the company pays the China taxes, you pay the same amount of tax as though you stayed in the states...when your refund comes it will be big because of the non-resident period, and you pay that amount back to the company). I can't stress this enough: make sure the company gets and pays for your tax preparation and equalization calculations!!! My taxes are not so complicated until I took an overseas assignment...and now they are more complicated than I can handle. AND, they cost about US$8500 per year for the preparer to do the local taxes, the US taxes including Fed and State, plus the equalization statement.

Beyond that, an sweet expat assignment is really a great opportunity to save extra as well as to gain some personal and professional experience. I say take it if you can get it with the expat bennies. I would hesitate if they balk on the tax situation though. I've been an expat on a package for nearly ten years now, an was expat with no package previously. If you have any specific questions, PM me.

One other thing: Shanghai is a "different" place. I would probably take an assignment there for a few months, maybe a year, but I certainly would not spend as much time in Shanghai as I have in my current host country. Most expats I know who are or have been posted there tell me that they really have to get out of the country evey few months or they would go nuts...FWIW. I have only visited for a few days or a week at a time (6-8 times over the past 10 yrs), but that's really enough for me.

R
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Old 09-24-2008, 10:57 PM   #9
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I was a HR Specialist with a major corporation with an xpat workforce. All the earlier posters are correct. [I also traveled in China in the late 70s with a group of architects, Shanghai City Planners were just beginning to consider how to handle skip development. There were interesting discussions to about the design issues of multi-family housing too. We are Pacific in our orientation and found their culture and values much like our own.]

Absolutely take this assignment, for 3-6 months you can hot-bunk if necessary. What you learn will be invaluable. My only caution is not to stay away from corporate for more than a couple years as headquarters networks are important for your career. Conversely, don't closet yourself with your fellow xpats. Develop professional relationships with the locals.

Take time to learn the local courtesies wherever you go, and try to pick up the language. They won't expect you to be fluent but will respect you for making the effort. Also, acquire your vocabulary from a professional (there are jokers and thieves all over the globe).
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Old 09-25-2008, 12:22 AM   #10
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Learn to say "Shung Hai", have at least one dinner at the Radisson for the view, and ignore the beggars.
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Old 09-25-2008, 12:57 AM   #11
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Great opportunity -- and Shanghai is a great city! Even if it turns out you don't like it much, it is only a few months. The financial incentives are great. If you are frugally minded and don't let yourself get sucked into a typical expat lifestyle you can live VERY well and save a lot of money. We've been living in china since 2002, working in the non-profit sector so not on a cushy package, and we have saved a ton of money because we basically continue to live a modest life.

Try to get housing close to your office. Commuting in China is not fun, no matter what city you are in. Worth it to pay more for a nice place within walking or biking distance.

lhamo
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Old 09-25-2008, 06:10 PM   #12
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Earlier this year, I worked 3 weeks in Beijing. It was an awesome experience and I would go back in a heartbeat. Early in my career I spent a few years in Europe before coming back to the States. I'd do that again in a heartbeat as well. So I'm in total agreement with the other responses.

Unless your salary is low now, you should be able to hire 3 to 5 Chinese to just take care of you for the 3 months. No cooking, no cleaning, no laundry, no domestic duties.

And follow Brat's advice.
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Old 10-07-2008, 11:23 PM   #13
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Did something similar to you this past summer but in France. Was paid by my PhD adviser back home(because he wanted me to go to get the experience), as well as my employer in Grenoble. I had the option of living within walking distance from my work for about 550 euro/month or living a short bike or bus ride (~4.5 miles) from work and paying only 300 euro/month but had to live with a crazy woman who made my life miserable(thank god for my friends letting me stay with them a lot.) If I go back I will pay the extra since it is just for a short time and will be able to live my life a little more freely.

I saved almost $4,000 before I came home and just last week (yes, right before this latest debacle in the market) opened up a Roth in a vangaurd TR 2045.

As for the taxes, paid my US as normal, and the salary they quoted me in euros was exactly what I received. They took care of all the tax business so no problems there.





My adviser went and presented some of my results a month ago in France and said he had ppl from all over the world asking if I could work for them next summer

Not sure if I'll go back to France (maybe Saclay, Grenoble, or soemwhere else), or go to Japan, Netherlands, or South Africa.

I want to go to Japan, but would be more than content going back to France.

The experience you will gain not only for your resume but also for your character cannot be emphasized enough.
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Old 10-09-2008, 09:29 AM   #14
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Expats Rock!!!

<--- ME!

DO IT!!!!!!!!!!

Worked in Warsaw, Poland for a few months, Paris for a few months, and now in Athens, Greece.

Sometimes you feel isolated, sometimes you feel freedom like you never feel before.

Logistics can be nightmare, make sure you work out the details. Domestic stuff that usually is simple, can give you headache.

Per diem is sweet, so all you do is just hanging out in expensive bars/restaurants every single night
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Old 10-16-2008, 05:47 PM   #15
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Slouch, so did you end up taking this job?
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Old 10-18-2008, 11:55 AM   #16
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Thanks everyone for your help. My significant other has changed her feelings regarding the 3-6 months apart from "its ok" to "NO" and it's something we're still discussing at this point.
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