Perhaps it is because I’ve never enjoyed the simple pleasures of middle-class American life that the “necessities” of many foreigners relocating to China seem egregiously exorbitant to me. Dining out, name-brand clothing, gym memberships, paying bills on time, these all seem like the stuff of legend, or at least weeknight sitcoms. I’ve been poor my whole life, and I like to think that it has bred in me some degree of character. If nothing else, it has acclimated me to a simpler existence than most. Some may consider my pay meagre, but I make much more than the average Chinese with a graduate degree. I live in a tiny whole in the wall and I love it. I’ve got the internet, some books, some beer in the fridge, and a gadget or two. I’m not showing off my new Prada bag to the bleach-blondes at Chez Doucherie, but I certainly don’t feel like I’m missing out on much. I’m even managing to save a portion of my check each pay period. If there’s anyone wondering if they’ll survive in this town on a “paltry salary,” my advice is to first save enough money to have your head surgically removed from your ass; it’ll save you a lot in the long run no matter where you live.