Maybe you’ve been dreaming of trying the delicious cuisine, sampling the rich culture, seeing the historical sites, or just the taking advantage of the inexpensive cost of living. Whatever your reason, it’s no surprise that relocating to China has piqued your interest.
Whether you’re retiring, temporarily relocating or moving to China for good, this guide will walk you through all the most important things you need to know about how your new home will affect your finances.
One of the biggest financial factors you’ll contend with after you move is exchanging your money from your home country into renminbi, China’s currency. While many banks and other services will take care of this for you, it’s fairly common for them to use a marked up exchange rate in order to see a bigger profit on your transaction. It’s a good idea to use an online currency converter to check on the real rate, so you can keep an eye on any transaction fees hidden within the exchange rate. You can also use TransferWise to ensure you’re getting the same fair rate you find on Google while also cutting back on transfer fees.
Money in China is usually written as ¥ or CNY, and isn’t usually called by it’s real name, renminbi. It’s more typically referred to as Chinese yuan. The list below shows the approximate value of the yuan at the time of writing, compared to a few major currencies:
- $1000 = ¥6,700
- £1000 = ¥8,700
- €1000 = ¥7,800
- A$1000 = ¥5,300
|Comparing basic cost of living||1 bedroom flat in city centre (monthly rent)||meal for 2 (mid range restaurant, three course)||transportation (monthly pass)|
|New York City, USA||¥20,378.12||¥507.49||¥811.99|
The five most expensive cities to live in in China are:
|Total Living Expenses in Shanghai||Average cost|
|1 person, per month (without rent)||¥4,327.53|
|1 person, per year (without rent)||¥51,930.36|
|student, per month||¥2,350.00|
|4 person family, per month (without rent||¥16,005.46|
|4 person family, per year (without rent)||¥192,065|
|Total Living Expenses in Beijing||Average cost|
|1 person, per month (without rent)||¥3,643.56|
|1 person, per year (without rent)||¥43,722.72|
|student, per month||¥2500|
|4 person family, per month (without rent||¥13,412.63|
|4 person family, per year (without rent)||¥160.951.56|
If you’re not going to continue working for the same company you did in your home country, you may find your pay rate in China is vastly different, even for a fairly similar job. While Chinese salaries can sometimes seem low when directly translated, compared to the affordable cost of living you’re sure to find that you’re making more than enough to sustain a pretty high quality of life.
|Salary averages for Shanghai||Average salary|
|Salary averages for Beijing||Average salary|
No matter where you live, rent will typically take up the bulk of your budget, and China is no exception. This table should give you an idea of how much you can expect to pay in China’s two biggest cities.
|Renting in Shanghai||Average monthly cost|
|student dorm room||¥1,350|
|Renting in Beijing||Average monthly cost|
|student dorm room||¥1,500|
All in all, healthcare in China isn’t all that expensive as compared to Europe or North America. While costs have a significant range depending on whether you see a general practitioner or a specialist, the Dongguan health department recently found that the average cost of a doctor’s visit is about ¥155.
Getting around in China can look a lot different than transportation in other countries. Because the cities are so densely populated, it’s much more common to get around by bike, motorbike or public transportation than by car. Even in rural areas, you’ll find more people on two wheels than four.
|Transportation and vehicle prices for China||Average cost|
|gasoline (1 litre / 0.25 gallon)||¥6.03|
|monthly bus/transport pass||¥120.00|
|bus ticket, single use||¥2.00|
|taxi tariff, 30 minutes||¥16.00|
|Toyota Corolla, new||¥128,802.20|
|VW Golf, new||¥150,000.00|
China’s public school system covers all children to age 18, though it’s not uncommon for parents to opt for private or international school. It’s also important to consider the cost of university when calculating how much to set aside for your or your child’s education.
|School||Average yearly cost|
|preschool / kindergarten||¥5,669.40|
|private school for lower grades||¥190,829.97|
|Tsinghua University tuition||¥20,000-40,000|
|Peking University tuition||¥26,000-30,000|
While costs in China are typically quite low, it’s also a good idea to consider the tariffs on imported goods; you’ll find it’s much less expensive to embrace Chinese life and say “see you later” to your favorite name brands from home. All in all, living in China isn’t too expensive, and you’re sure to enjoy the lifestyle that cheap price point affords. Enjoy living in China!