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Do You Live to Work, or Work to Live?

Popularity 8Viewed 8825 times 2014-1-16 11:50 |System category:Life| work, vacation, holidays

Americans can move anywhere in the United States we want to, without being restricted by the household registration program or hukou  that exists in China. The average American moves 16 times in a lifetime. I've lived and worked in many different places, sometimes in different countries. I've moved maybe 20 times in my life, not always by choice. My home is wherever I am, not where my parents are. I've been self-employed most of my life and chose to retire early.

Working full-time left me no time to do much else, and that was no longer acceptable to me. Life should be about more than just work!! Luckily, I have no debts and no dependents. And I believe people should spend within their means and avoid conspicuous consumption. Unlike many people, I don't much like shopping. Chinese people have a hard time understanding that, I know.

Most Chinese work very hard and I don't think most enjoy their work much. Whatever their work, they have very little time off. Even though salaries are rising, so are expenses. Most Chinese marry young, quickly have children, and may never pay off the debts they take on for getting married, buying housing, cars, etc. Then they must worry about raising a child and taking care of their parents. Of course, people in other countries also face these challenges. But the pressure to marry and procreate is greater in China than any other place I've been to. My mother used to badger me about this long ago, but I made sure to live far, far away from my parents since I left for college at 17, and eventually she gave up bothering me about it. In the US, many people remain single and choose not to have children. No one should be forced to have children, especially if one can't afford to. Many Americans are unemployed, just as many other people around the world are. We've got lots of problems of our own here. But American incomes are higher, and the inflation rate is also much lower than in China. Housing prices aren't rising as fast, and it's ok to marry without owning a house. If we were a less mobile society, it might be different.

Americans earn vacation time in addition to national holidays. There are many places we can choose to go, and our population is much smaller, so vacations in the US are much more flexible. We don't all go to the same places at the same time as people in China do. I found travelling during national holidays in China too awful. I stopped doing it. I'm accustomed to going to scenic places where there aren't many people, and that is almost impossible in China during holidays. I could never get used to the crowds. I once visited a park where there were thousands of other people. It was horrible. There was trash everywhere and only one small restroom facility. It was woefully inadequate and made no sense. When the population is so huge, better planning, preparation, and maintenance of facilities are absolutely essential - and not only in big city areas frequented by foreigners. Other domestic sites are deserving of attention, too.

Chinese people get used to crowds. But some get uncomfortable in places where there are only a few people around. Some people even say they fear there might be ghosts. In some American cities, it's more likely you'd be mugged. And not by ghosts.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)





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Reply Report Dr.Bill.Shen 2014-1-17 17:32
Actually, in big cities such as Beijing and shanghai, the birth rate is negative now. More and more young female professionals opt not to have any kid. As famous philosopher Nike said: life is short, play hard.
Reply Report voice_cd 2014-1-21 08:53
Your article has been recommended to the homepage. Thanks for sharing here !
Reply Report huaren2323 2014-1-21 13:12
I admire blogger's free spirit. Good for you. Guess you must be from Toishan, Guangdong who tends to be adventurous and independent.
Reply Report sharonfr 2014-1-21 15:39
I admire your free spirit. Actually, I also have it, but I haven't made the free mindset into practice. That is, I haven't been to many places due to my cowardliness. So I envy very much your 20 times' move in your life, which enough shows your free and brave spirit.
Reply Report Lodi 2014-1-21 16:00
I work to live. Nowadays, almost things you need needs money and so people tend to do hardwork, all in their mind is to make money forgetting their leisure time. For me, I don't earn that much but I'm enjoying my job, my life..simple life.
Reply Report lexalee 2014-1-21 16:14
Sometimes you take jobs just to earn some money, but you shouldn't have to do that until you retire. Living simply is a wonderful thing. Moving 20 times has not been fun or easy, I assure you. Studies have shown that moving is one of the most stressful things in life. I hope it's made me wiser, at least.
Reply Report Vinir 2014-1-21 16:42
most of us just sitting in the office,and waste a lot of time. in China, its normal.
Reply Report LanaLiao 2014-3-1 20:29
For we Chinese, when we are young, we need our parents, so our homes are where our parents are; when we are married, our homes are where we and our spouses  are. All the way, we are not alone, whenever we make an important decision, such as moiving to a new place, we must take our closest family members into consideration. Moreover, for most Chinese, giving up our present jobs, especially ones that are quite steady and satisfactory, to move to another strange place is pretty challenging and not so easy. And the grim and competitive job market in recent years has made it even worse.
Nevertheless, in spite of all these scruples, it doesn't  mean that Chinese people don't look forward to a free, easy and wonderful life. Nowadays, many Chinese, esp young Chinese's life styles have been undergoing drastic changes. They advocate more freedom, independence and individualism.
Reply Report lexalee 2014-3-7 18:07
For people with family obligations and children, moving can be much more difficult.  I can make decisions independently and undertake risks I would notm otherwise.

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I am a semi-retired American physician and medical/science writer who lives in New Orleans, in the southeastern USA. I spent 2012-2013 teaching at a college in Lianyungang, Jiangsu.


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