When planning to teach in China it's important to budget how much you will be spending so you can do all the things you plan, visit all the places you intend to go and not have to worry about money issues once you are there. Many expat teachers wonder what is the cost of living in China. 

How much money do I need to live in Beijing/Shanghai?

Generally speaking, Beijing/Shanghai is relatively cheap compared to western countries. Taxis, subways and local restaurant meals are cheap. However, your lifestyle will play a big part in how much you spend. For example, eating out in Western restaurants, going to clubs, mode of transport, standard of accommodation etc will affect your spending and how much you need to budget. 

Eating outside in a western restaurant is very expensive compared to eat at home or in a local Chinese restaurant. Apartment cost depends on which area you live in, usually far from the downtown area is cheaper. The apartment can be very comfortable and good furniture for around 3000-4000 RMB per month in Beijing and Shanghai. 

Daily Expenses:


Cooking at home - local groceries costing 20–40RMB a day would suffice.

Eating out or takeaway - costs around 20-30RMB per meal for Chinese food.

Western food - would cost anywhere between 35RMB to hundreds of RMB per meal

Coffee shops (Starbucks etc) 

Coffee: 20-35rmb 

Snack: 15-30rmb 

Pubs, Clubs 

Cheap bars: 30-50rmb per drink 

Normal bars: 50-100rmb per drink



Beef: 45rmb/kg 

Pork: 35rmb/kg 

Tomato: 13rmb/kg 

Apple: 15rmb/kg 

Orange: 10rmb/kg for local oranges 

Mineral Water (250ml): 3-5rmb 

Coke (355ml): 5rmb

Beer (355ml): 5-10rmb 

Canned Coffee: 5-10rmb 


Milk (250ml): 5-10rmb 

Ice cream: 5-10rmb for normal Ice cream, in dessert shop will cost more

Cinema: 30-70rmb

Gym:  1800-3000rmb/yr 

DVD:  10-15rmb 

Daily Newspaper �?1-2rmb 

Magazine�? 10-30rmb 

Hair Cut�? 30-100rmb

Public transportation:

Bus: 2rmb one way ticket. Bus is convenient in China but very cowed especially in rush hour. 

Taxi: starting price 12/km

Subway: 6-10rmb depends on where you go 

Daily cost depends on which cities you live in, generally, big cities in China like Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, Shenzhen will cost more. Small cities cost less. However, keep in mind, usually the cost of living in a smaller cities are not so less. The daily expenses between big cities and small cities are not big difference.  


Beijing,  Guangzhou,  Hangzhou,  Shenzhen,  Shanghai,  Anywhere, 

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