We’re moving to China!! Here’s why…

Jul 14, 2019 | Asia, China, Family travel, Global travel

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(Last updated on: 04/04/2020)

Yes, you’ve read that correctly. 2019 has a lot of changes in store for us. We welcomed our new baby, Saya, into the world in March and in August we will be leaving the country. I know, I know, we travel every August during the school holidays! But this year will be a little different… because we are not coming home at the end of the six week break!

We have made the big decision to leave the country and relocate to…. CHINA!

This is a decision that was very easy to make. We love travel, we love adventure and we love change! We believe that 2019 is the best time for us to make this big move and in this blog post I will explain why.

We want a new adventure in China!

moving to china

Anybody who knows us personally or has followed the blog for a while will not be surprised at this news.

Philip and I crave adventure. From climbing Mount Kilimanjaro to touring Sri Lanka with our nine month old baby, we actively seek new challenges and novelties. Whilst we love watching Netflix and going out for drinks with friends, we get bored at home. Home isn’t new, it isn’t a challenge and it generally isn’t an adventure (although we have had our moments- Tough Mudder was very challenging, as was doing my PhD at times!).

Every year I have researched China as our summer travel adventure. But each year we have decided against because of the vast distances between ‘must visit’ locations and the price of multiple internal flights. It was unrealistic to do everything that we wanted to do in the time that we were given off work. China was destined to remain unexplored by the Stainton household.

So when the opportunity came up for us to relocate for work, we jumped at the chance!

Overcoming the language barriers and finding a shop that sells a decent bottle of red wine will certainly be a challenge. As will adapting to living in a totally different culture. I’m sure that there will be difficult moments when we will struggle to order the food that we want or when we can’t find a Didi (the Chinese equivalent of Uber) to take Isla to nursery. But this will be more than worth it when we can explore all of what China has to offer!

moving to china

Where will we be living in China?

We will be living in a city named Hangzhou. You’ve probably never heard of it, I know I hadn’t.

It’s situated an hour outside of Shanghai and is a large, metropolitan city which has a population the size of London! It has been deemed the ‘most beautiful city in China’ and the famous West Lake is often the postcard image of China. Here is a video that shows you what the city is like.

There is a lot for us to see and do in the city, from exploring the city temples to mountain bike riding in the nearby mountains. There are theme parks, zoos, trampoline centres, soft plays and lots more to entertain the kids. There are yoga classes and affordable beauty and relaxation treatments for me. There are badminton tournaments and sports socials for Philip. I can continue to buy my clothes from H&M, order Pizza Hut on a Friday night and shop at Ikea or Walmart. We can have as much or as little of our ‘home comforts’ as we like.

We can use our weekends to venture further afield if we choose to. Shanghai is close by and Isla will be very excited once she finds out that there is a Disney theme park there! There are the yellow mountains if we want some fresh mountain air and a cooler climate and the 1000 islands look pretty amazing too. This is just a few examples of the places that we can travel to within a couple hours drive on the weekend.

1000 Lakes

We have plans to visit the quieter, more difficult to reach parts The Great Wall. I can’t wait to show Isla some panda bears. And we are excited to see the Terracotta Warriors. We will explore the big Chinese attractions, but also the smaller, more unusual ones. Philip wants to climb Mt Huashan, but I’m not so sure about that…(see below).

Mount Huashan

Holidays will also provide us with fantastic travel opportunities. We will be in close proximity to many amazing travel destinations, from Hong Kong which is a two hour flight away, to Bali, which is around 6 hours. And an added bonus is that because I will not be working (more on this shortly), we are not restricted by my time off work- so we can travel every school holiday if we wish to!

Hangzhou is one of the most desirable cities in China to live in. The climate is slightly better than it is in the UK (generally above 20 degrees C between March-October). The cost of living is cheaper than the UK (unless you choose to live off of all imported items, which we won’t). It is a beautiful city and the pollution is not as bad as it is in the major cities (yes, there are bad days sometimes- we will buy masks).

Of course, there are some things that we will miss. I’ll miss good cheese, bread that’s not sweet and decent red wine (did I mention that before?). I’ll miss proper chocolate. It will be challenging to communicate as most of the population do not speak English. We won’t have a car (you have to enter a ‘lottery’ to be eligible for a petrol or diesel and electric is expensive). BUT we can go for super cheap massages (which is welcomed when I will be carrying the kids around a lot- I’ll need to look after my back muscles!). We can eat cheap, authentic Asian food every day (our favourite) and we can join the Wellington expats family.

Where will we be working in China?

Philip has been offered an amazing opportunity at Wellington College. This is a prestigious UK school that has recently opened up several partner schools in China. He will be the Director of Performance. Philip is really excited to take on this new challenge.

The school itself is amazing. The facilities are second to none and Philip is joining at a really exciting time in its development. You can see a bit more about the school in this video-

As you know, I will be on maternity leave until early 2020. This works out really well with the move as my employment is not affected initially. I’m not entirely sure of my career path in the near future. I could work at the university teaching travel and tourism, as I have been in the UK, or I could teach at a school/college. My PhD research focussed on TEFL as a form of tourism, so that opens up doors for me to work in that sector too.

Whilst I have lots of options for work, what I would really like is to make a living from this blog. Having the freedom to choose my own working hours and to be there when it matters for my children (concerts, parents evenings, sick days…) is priceless. Any parent will know that.

Whilst blogging requires A LOT more hours of work than most people realise, I love writing. My blog is not just a platform to write about my adventures (although that is how it started out), it is a method of helping people. From giving advice about how to save for family travel or how to write your PhD fast to explaining how the research onion works and assessing what the future really is for the package holiday, I write posts that help people, and I enjoy that.

I have a lot of work to do to make my blogging dream a reality, but I am confident that I can do it! And do you know what? You guys can help! Please do click on my links, share my posts and retweet my tweets. The more views, shares etc that I receive, the more money I can make from adds and the more exposure I can get from others who might wish to form working partnerships or collaborations.

You can also take advantage of some of my travel knowledge (I don’t’ claim to ‘know it all’, but I have worked in travel and travelled extensively since the age of 18… I’ve learnt a few tricks of the trade along the way…). If you subscribe to my e-mail list, I will send out discount codes, travel tips and notice of flash sales. If you use any of my links I will make a small commission and you will save money on your next trip- win, win!

Follow our adventures in China

Whilst we might physically be 5000 miles away, thanks to the Internet era that we now live in, we are only at the other end of a screen! I won’t be publishing much on my personal Facebook page (and Philip will post even less, I expect). Instead I will be sharing our adventures on my Lifeasabutterfly social media accounts. Follow me on Instagram for pictures of our travels with detailed captions explaining what we are up to (I have almost 10,000 followers- help me reach this goal guys!). Follow me on Facebook for live updates on our Chinese adventures and shares of blog posts and stories. Follow me on Twitter or Pinterest for the latest blog post releases. Oh, and we might add a few YouTube videos from time to time too.

What I love about social media is that it isn’t a one-way street. We would love for you to keep us updated on your life too! Drop us a message or comment and it will surely make our day 🙂

Time for take-off

So that pretty much sums up our move to China. We are SUPER excited and we hope you are excited for us too! If you ever want some Mandarin translated, ask my toddler- she will probably know. If you want some travel advice drop me a line and if you want to know more about teaching in China you can ask Philip!

And now it’s time to go and pack…

4 reasons why you NEED a VPN in China!

Beginning to believe peak yellow mountains Huangshan

1- Keep your data secure from watching eyes (and there are many eyes in China...)

2- Share your travel updates with friends and family back home on social media (only accessible with aVPN)

3- Watch your favourite Netflix shows and sports fixtures

4- Get unrestricted access to the World Wide Web


  1. Annabel

    I reckon the Chinese can probably make a good bottle of wine these days: they’re pretty good at most things! Have fun exploring!

    • Hayley

      I hope so! thank you!

  2. Hh

    Except language and overall hygiene level in Gangzhou comparing with UK, you’ll find out it’s a city more advanced than any place in the UK once you learn how to mobile do all payment and shopping via internet.

    • Hayley

      We are not moving to Gandhi’s but I’m sure that Hangzhou will have the same issues, thanks!

  3. lotte

    You will love hangzhou, it’s a gorgeous city! I’ve been living there for 1,5 year now and it has been amazing, so many things to do and the expat community with children is getting bigger and bigger as well!

    • Hayley

      That’s great to hear!

  4. Andy

    Good luck at Wellington, it’s not exactly in Hz, a long way out of the city. It’s got a lot of issues so hope u still enthusiastic by Xmas!

    • Hayley

      Thanks Andy! Yes, we have visited already so we are very aware of location etc. Also, I’m sure that every school/business has some teething issues when it first starts out. I’m sure it will all be ironed out in due course



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Hi, am Dr Hayley Stainton

I’ve been travelling, studying and teaching travel and tourism since I was 16. Through Tourism Teacher I share my knowledge on the principles and practice of travel and tourism management from both an academic and practical perspective.

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