Cost of Living in China for Expats

The cost of living in China varies depending on the city in which you reside (for example, Beijing and Shanghai are much more expensive than secondary cities such as Chengdu or Kunming, which are in turn more expensive than smaller cities and the countryside) as well as your lifestyle (if you like drinking whiskey and cola in the elegant bars of Shanghai and buying extra virgin olive oil at the City Shop, you will spend more money than those who shop at Perry's – a bar for students on Huai Hai Road who shop at

If you don't want to live on the extreme outskirts of Beijing or Shanghai, you should budget at least 2,500 to 3,500 Yuan a month for a room in a shared apartment there. The cost of rent may be much lower in some other cities, however this varies greatly from one situation to the next. In addition to that, you'll be responsible for paying for things like internet, water, and power. Our research indicates that a monthly expenditure of no more than 400–600 Yuan is reasonable. If you live in a shared apartment with several people, you should only contribute a fraction of the total expenditures since those costs apply to the whole flat.

In addition to that, you will need a mobile phone. Although 100 Yuan a month should be plenty (this amount includes the cost of internet access), the actual cost will vary depending on how often you use it.

Jiaozi (also known as ravioli) or lamian on a platter could only set you back 15 to 20 Yuan for the lunch (noodles). However, if you want to eat meat and fish on a regular basis and go to upscale places, you will need to pay higher rates for rice. It depends on your diet.

The metro and buses are still very inexpensive modes of transportation; let's say 5 yuan per day (or 150 yuan a month). Taxis are growing more costly all around China, although in major cities like Shanghai and Beijing, they are still far less expensive than those in the United States or Europe.

Let's review: Rent (at least 3,000 Yuan) plus utility bills (at least 200 Yuan) plus telephone bills (at least 100 Yuan, with internet) plus food (at least 2,100 Yuan for a high-quality diet, at least 1,100 Yuan for a diet that includes a lot of rice, pasta, and potatoes) plus transportation (at least 150 Yuan) equals 4,500-5,500 Yuan a month.

Let's imagine that the beginning point is 4,500 Yuan per month in Beijing or Shanghai; this would be the starting point. Clearly, you need to include costs associated with various forms of amusement (travel, eating out, drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, and drinking a small amount of tea), clothing, health insurance, visas, overseas flights, and other unexpected costs.

It is important to keep in mind that it is extremely typical to experience multiple perks beyond only one's wage in China. This may range from 5 kilograms of rice for the Spring Festival all the way up to full reimbursement of rent, transportation throughout the country (including taxi fares), health insurance, visas, and the cost of one foreign trip every year.

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