A Web Developer in China, 2023
In June, 2023, my family and I uprooted our lives and moved to China. Although there were many motives for this move, the primary reason was to live with my wife's family and expose our daughter to the culture.
My plan was to continue web development in China, but I had no idea if that was feasible. As many of us know, China strictly monitors the country's internet activity and blocks many crucial apps and services we rely on in this industry.
Having lived here for almost a month, I can safely say that it is indeed possible to live as a digital nomad in China. There are, however, a few hurdles to overcome.
The Great Firewall
The biggest hurdle is that services such as Google, Gmail, and Twitter are blocked by China's firewall. Telegram, Zoom, and Discord are also blocked, so communication and access to news back home is not as accessible.
Slack seems to be the only messaging app that is not blocked here, along with Microsoft Teams and Skype.
I've had to set up a new Microsoft email address and forward all of my Gmail messages there.
In the past, it was easy to get a VPN service, such as Express VPN, to solve this problem. However, Express VPN does not work for me anymore here in China. The only VPN service that works is one called Private VPN, but it is very slow.
If anyone has a more reliable VPN service that they can recommend for China, please let me know!
Web Developer Tools in China
To my surprise, Github and Gitlab actually work here in China. I have access to all of my code repos! Amazon AWS also works, which is great news if you rely of this for deployments.
I mainly develop with Next.js and deploy to Vercel, both of which work behind China's firewall. Namecheap.com, my primary domain registrar, also works here.
The main adjustment you'll need to make is switching from Goole to Bing as a search engine, which honestly isn't all that bad.
I have successfully developed and deployed a complete website since my time here, without many issues. I just wish a better VPN services was available so that I can stay connected to Twitter and Telegram for longer periods of time.
For more updates and details about life in China, check out my travel blog! travelxfamily.com/posts/big-move-to-china
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