Living costs in China

When moving to a new country it is crucial to know how much money it will cost to maintain a standard of living you are comfortable with. This short guide helps clarify how much it costs to live in China.

As in any other country the cost of living in China will vary greatly across the country. For this blog we have used average prices in China’s 3 biggest cities; Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Cost of living in smaller towns and cities are generally much cheaper, however it can be more expensive to gain access to western amenities in these locations. It is important to note even in China’s biggest cities living costs are still considerably less than the average large western city. 



Generally, accommodation is your largest expense, thus it is vital you can afford to maintain monthly payments of your chosen housing. Below you can see average prices for basic accommodation in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.

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Public transport has developed greatly across China in recent years. Today it is very reasonably priced and convenient way to get around, average transport rates can be seen below:

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China has a vast array of affordable eateries and because of this it is very common to eat out in China. During your stay you are likely to come across a vast array of street food stalls, that are both nutritious and inexpensive, for example you can purchase 3 large steamed dumplings for as little as 3 RMB in many parts of the country. Standard restaurant prices in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou can be seen below:

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Grocery staples


Whilst Chinese products are relatively cheap, getting hold of certain western staples like milk or your favourite beer can be a little more expensive. An easy way to avoid paying these premiums is to immerse yourself in local culture; if you cannot live without a certain western product, don’t worry, the slight premiums you will be required to pay are likely to be more than compensated for by the savings you make across the rest of your daily expenses.

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Leisure activities will of course vary greatly from person to person. If wanting to engage in a specific activity you should research beforehand to see if it can be easily accessed from your new location. You can see a list of general activity average prices below.   

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Team T.G.