Shaking Things Up - Another China Assignment?

My wife and I have decided to mix things up and accept a work assignment in China for at least 6 months with our family in tow. We've been contemplating this move for several months. We still are not sure we are doing the right thing, but we know we need a change of pace. When opportunity knocked, we said why not?

There were a lot of factors that went into this decision. Its complex particularly with young children in tow.

  • We love to explore - If we were already financially free my wife and I would likely be packing up and doing some long term traveling exploring the world. This is perhaps the strongest argument in favor of this assignment. While perhaps going back to China wouldn't be our top pick, the idea of getting out and exploring more new places is what it is all about.
  • Children- The opportunity for our oldest daughter to learn Mandarin (and I'm confident she will pick up a good foundation while we are there) is an amazing opportunity for her. Of course our children's health & safety are our primary concern and since both my wife & I have lived there before we feel comfortable enough that this is manageable where we will be living.
  • Family & Friends - Taking our kids away from their cousins, grandparents, aunts/uncles, and friends is definitely a negative. Even though everyone lives within a 2.5hr radius of us currently, we probably see our immediate family each 3-4 times a year. We are planning to increase the frequency of visits before and after our assignment to help offset this a bit.
  • Career - I've plateaued a bit in my career and have been in the same role for nearly 5 years. I see this as an opportunity to shake things up - it will benefit my organization and allow me to transition into a new role (if I can find the right one) in the long term. There is some risk here that this could hurt my career if another opportunity doesn't line up, but I've gotten more comfortable with this as we have gotten closer to our financial freedom goals.
  • Finances - There was clearly a financial benefit to my first assignment. With changes to my employer's assignment benefit plans and the entire family in tow, we see this as a financially neutral move. We are going to be able to save in some areas (utilities, gas) but have to increase our out of pocket spending in others (food/dining). If we can complete this assignment and maintain our same rate of savings then we are comfortable that the other benefits make this a compelling opportunity for us.

We believe our kids are the right age to do this type of adventure. We are nervous & excited to again step out of our comfort zone!

Related in Temporary Assignment:

Wrapped China Assignment, Round 2 (Jan 01, 2014) Hanoi, Vietnam We just wrapped up our temporary assignment in China and arrived back in the US before the end of the year. Its amazing how time flies, it seems like just a few days ago that we began...

Packing Tips for Extended Family Travel (Oct 14, 2013) My young family is on the move - we are currently living in China on a 6 month work assignment. With the exorbitant cost to ship additional stuff to China we were incented to only bring what we could fit...

Survival Guide to Traveling with Young Kids (Jul 28, 2013) We didn't have much experience traveling with our young kids prior to our current assignment in China. We did lots of reading in preparation, but we were unprepared for both how exhausting and rewarding it has been for us. Here...

Comments (9)

Curious- I know that many Chinese cities face heavy air pollution, perhaps even akin to what Pittsburgh saw decades ago. I also know that this probably varies widely throughout the country, and that I may have an exaggerated national view based on some of the worst locations.

Are you concerned about the respiratory health of your family at all as you plan for this trip?

Congratulations on the assignment! That will be a big change. I can relate to how you and feel and where you're at with career (and finance). I also feel like I may have plateaued for last few years, but both in career and financial planning/savings. Everything is great, don't get me wrong. But lacking the motivation to make any big changes. I'm inspired by your shake-up and will be anxious to hear more. Best of luck!!

Very cool assignment! I love foreign travel, especially on Uncle Sam's (or other employers') dime. This sounds like a great opportunity, especially for your young daughter to learn Mandarin. Think of the potential benefits to her if she can keep that skill for years to come!

My wife is in a position to do the same thing and we enjoy traveling as well. We also have two small children. Can you describe how you are handling your primary and rental home situation while you are gone? Is your family close enough to help take care of them?

TJ - Logistics get more complicated it seems on every front. Now adays we have several rental properties, 2 small children require a lot more gear and a lot more planning, etc. On the property situation I've arranged for property managers for the rental properties, and we are thinking about a house sitter or renter for our primary home.

I travel to China a couple times a year for work for 2 to 5 weeks at a time. The traffic is horrible. The pollution is worse. I use to love to go to China now I don't even like thinking about it.

PJinNC, Of course we are concerned about the pollution. My wife have lived there previously so we understand the pollution concerns very well. Where we are going it is not as bad as some parts, but it isn't great either. We took a try it and see approach since we only agreed to an initial 6 month stay. If pollution becomes a problem for us we will come back, but based on our previous experience we think it will be manageable and not a major issue (hopefully).

Good for you! Have you looked into the tax implications. I believe your company used to tax equalize all assignees but recently changed their approach for non executives. You may have tax liabilities in both China and the US. Have you discussed the implications with E&Y? I'd be interested to know what they said about your income property and other US based income.

Good question. I'll have to double check, but my understanding was I will get the tax equalization.

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