Disheartened by stagnating pay packages and increasing costs, many expats are moving to greener pastures

After five years in Beijing, Q. Abdullah Ahdieh, an American software engineer, and his wife Theresa Ahdieh are busy packing up their things and selling whatever they don’t need. This month, the couple are moving their family back to the US – not because they don’t like China, but because economically it is becoming increasingly unaffordable for them to live here.

“We have only been here for five years, but in that time, benefit packages have stayed the same, or even decreased, while the price of education [for children] has increased significantly,” said Q. Abdullah Ahdieh. They have two children, a 17-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old son.

According to a new study by UniGroup Relocation, a global moving company, twice as many expats moved out of China than into the country in 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported in February 2015. The study said that reasons for the outflow included expiring work contracts, rising costs of living, air pollution and companies cutting labor costs in the wake of China’s slowing economic growth.

The US saw 22 percent fewer expats move to China in 2014 compared to a year earlier, according to the company, which moves over 260,000 families each year around the world for work.

Due to rising living costs, stagnant or even declining expat packages, and fiercer competition with local employees and businesses in the wake of China’s economic downturn, many expats are either leaving or preparing to leave. Yet others continue to believe that Beijing is still a land of opportunity.