Making Money Online In China Is Harder Than I Thought

One of the reasons I came to China was to demonstrate that you can make money online from anywhere in the world. After spending two weeks in China I have came to the conclusion that while it is indeed possible to make money online in China, it’s probably better to make money online from someplace else.

The Great Firewall of China

China is “protected” by a great firewall that filters out a lot sites that I use on a daily basis. The strange thing is I can’t find a valid reason why some of these sites would be blocked. For example, China blocks the FeedBurner chicklet but not FeedBurner itself. This makes the loading of any blogs that run the chicklet extremely slow. And for any blogs that are hosted by, you guys don’t load at all!

This makes it very difficult for me to check out new sites that apply to TTZ Media. A lot of them don’t load and I have to check them out with a proxy, which doesn’t always works because China is always working on blocking them.

Searching for information can be a pretty funny exercise. I did a Google search for “most polluted city in the world” and none of result pages would load. There were results and I can see the Google summary. However, when I clicked on the link, they all timed out.

YouTube videos are also very slow. The video would play for 20 seconds, then pause while it buffers. Then it would play for a few more seconds, then buffer again. It’s a real pain. Luckily, uploading YouTube videos is a lot less painful than playing it.

The Time Zone Difference

Thanks to the WordPress Timestamp, the 15 hour time zone difference between Vancouver and Shanghai isn’t a big deal. As a matter of fact, I find the difference more conducive to work. When I’m working on a post, North America is asleep. That gives me plenty of time to get a new post up so you guys have something to read when you wake up.

No Visa Exempted Entry

China does not offer visa exempted entry for Canadian or US citizens. An entry visa cost $50 and is good for only 30 days. You can apply for a one year multi-entry visa but you’ll need a good reason in order to get it. Even if you get one, you have to leave the country every 30 days and the closest visa exempted place to layover is Hong Kong. That’s a two hour flight.

Crazy High Income Tax

If I wish to avoid the 30 day visa problems, I can apply for a work visa that will allow me to stay for as long as the company employs me. However, I’ll be subject to China income tax on my world income, not just income made in China. The top income tax rate is 45% and it kicks in at 100,000RMB. While that is a very good income for a Chinese citizen (the average factory worker makes 12,000RMB per year), it’s barely half month income for the blog. The thought of giving 45% of the money to the Chinese government doesn’t appeal to me.

Sky High Cost of Living

This one may sound contradictory since I’ve been talking about how inexpensive it is to eat and shop here. However, were I to live here, I would want my accommodations to be comparable to what I have back in Vancouver. Real estate is extremely expensive in Shanghai. It would cost me about $4,000US per month to rent a place that is similar to what I have back home. I would also want a car to drive around in. I’ve already shown how much more expensive that is.

On the plus side, the cost of hiring help is pretty low. I would be able to employ a full time nanny, house keeper and personal assistant. I could even include a driver if I don’t feel like driving.

School would become a major expense once Sally is old enough to attend. I would want her to attend an international school so her grades would be recognized by western universities. Because of the high number of expats here, Shanghai has a lot of International schools so getting a proper Canadian, American or British education wouldn’t be a problem. However, the cost is crazy. The British International School, Shanghai (BISS) charges 150,000RMB per year for tuition. That’s $260,000US to send one kid (God help you if you have two or more) from grade 1 to 12. And that’s assuming they don’t raise tuition over the next 12 years. The high cost isn’t the only problem. There’s the waiting list as well. You need to apply years in advance to make sure your child can get in.

Add all these factors together and the answer is clear. You can make money online in China or anywhere else in the world. However, the best place to make money online is at home.