chinese lanterns

Cost of Living in China

“A Rising China” is commonly portrayed in the media, so you may think prices in China are on the rise as well. In fact, China remains one of the cheapest places in the world to live. Though the cost of living in each city is quite different, major cities in China such as Shanghai, Guangzhou or Shenzhen are still far cheaper than other major cities around the world. There are many benefits to the low cost of living in China: teachers can travel around China and surrounding countries, go on shopping sprees for popular international brands (such as H&M and UNIQLO), get affordable massages, and take part in all the culinary delights China has to offer.

The Chinese currency is called Renminbi (RMB). Here is a comparison of common expenses in China versus in the United States (all prices shown in USD).

Restaurant
China
USA
Meal in inexpensive restaurant
$3.3
$10
Combo meal at McDonald’s or smilar
$4.9
$6
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught)
$1.3
$3.3
Coke (0.33 liter bottle)
$0.5
$1.3
Water (0.33 liter bottle)
$0.4
$1.3

China has an enormous amount of agricultural resources, so it’s no surprise that food in China is drastically cheaper than in the U.S. Dining out is far less expensive, and groceries are generally less than half the price of those in America.

Supermarket
China
USA
Loaf of bread
$1.6
$2.2
Dozen Eggs
$1
$2
Chicken breasts (1kg)
$4
$4
Apples (1kg)
$1.5
$3.3
Pack of cigaretts (Marlboro)
$2.4
$2.6
Transportation
China
USA
One way ticket (local transport)
$0.3
$2.5
Taxi base fee
$1.6
$3
Gasoline (1 liter)
$1.3
$1

The cost of transportation in Beijing, captial of China, is more than 50 % cheaper than Boston’s. A monthly pass for public transportation is around $15 in China but almost $60 in Boston. A 3 mile taxi ride may run you $2.5 in China but more than $13 in Ameirca. However, one of the things we notice is that the taxi driver will most likely ask for money if you forget your belongings in the cab and later wish to have them back.

Utilities
China
USA
Electricity, heat, water, garbage
$49
$165
Internet (one month of DSL)
$15
$40

Electricy, water, gas and Internet are almost twice as expensive overall in America than they are in China. Internet service for 1 month of DSL costs around $15 in China, compared to almost $40 in America.

Rent / month
China
USA
1 bedroom apartment in the city
$500
$900
1 bedroom apartment outside the city
$320
$700
3 bedroom apartment in the city
$1,300
$1,500
3 bedroom apartment outside the city
$500
$1,300

Rent in both countries depends on location and size of city. Rent clost in a large city like Shanghai, Beijing, New York or Boston are much higher than in smaller cities. But rent in China is generally cheaper than that for the same kind of place in America.

In Shanghai, for a single apartment, it will be around 6,000 RMB (870 USD) / month; and a shared apartment will cost about 3,500 RMB (500 USD) per room in the city center. Usually landlords will request 1 month’s deposit and 3 months rent up front. If you use an agent then the agent fee will be averagely at 35% of one month’s rent.

You will pay rent every three months after that but if they want a short lease or different terms, they will pay a higher rent about 5% monthly. 

On the Mark partners with a local agency, My Bedding Abroad, owned by a native English speaker to help teachers who need to find a suitable apartment in Shanghai.  Please make sure to use promotional code: OTM10 which will give you a 10% off on site purchases. 

In Beijing, a one-bedroom / studio apartment will cost about 4,000 RMB (580 USD) / month; and for a shared apartment, it will be around 2,000 – 3,000 RMB (290 – 435 USD) / month. You will be required to pay 3 months rent up front, plus 1 month deposit (total 4 months rent in cash). After that, you pay every 3 months.

Looking for English Teaching Jobs in China? Check out our China Job Board.