Cost of Living in China: Is China Expensive To Live In?

Cost of Living in China: Is China Expensive To Live In?

China is the most populous country in the world, and its history is ancient, rich, and varied. The challenges and opportunities that come with China’s population and history are part of what makes it such an interesting place to live.

The country’s economy continues to grow, and it has far surpassed the United States and Germany as the world’s largest exporters. The opportunities for employees are endless, especially for those who can speak Mandarin Chinese.

China is a very exciting place to live. The country has undergone a massive transformation in the last few decades and continues to grow at an incredible rate. China is now the world’s second-largest economy and it’s pulling people from all over the world.

China has always been a big player in the global economy, but it’s only recently become a popular place for ex-pats to live. More and more foreigners are moving to China every year, attracted by job opportunities and the adventure of living somewhere new.

China is a country of great contrasts, with an ancient civilization and a rapidly developing economy. The cost of living in China is considerably lower than in other developed countries such as the United States, Japan, and Western Europe. However, it is still higher than in some parts of Southeast Asia.


China’s rapid rise as an economic power has been accompanied by rapid growth in its population, which now stands at 1.4 billion people. This has resulted in an increasing demand for foodstuffs and housing space, which has driven up the cost of living considerably in recent years.

Is China expensive to live in?

Despite having the second-largest economy in the world, China is a super affordable place to live in.

China is a developing country and the cost of living in China is lower than in most western countries. However, some items are more expensive in China than in other parts of the world. For example, imported goods tend to be more expensive because they’re taxed at high rates. The same goes for certain brands (such as Apple products) that are popular among Chinese consumers and therefore have higher mark-ups than their competitors.


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China’s public transportation system is inexpensive and efficient; a subway ride can cost as little as 20 cents. Food prices are also relatively low, with an average meal costing less than $10. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Beijing is around $450, while a two-bedroom apartment costs about $1,000.

However, some things make life in China more affordable: if you have an income of over 6,000 yuan per month (about $800), then your rent will be free! The free housing program is only available to foreigners who have been working legally in China for 5 years or more and have had no major violations during this period (including not breaking the law while staying illegally).

CityCost of Living IndexLocal Purchasing Power Index
Qingdao, Shandong32.6573.16

The average salary in China is around $1,680 per month. This is a lower figure than you may find in other countries because there are many jobs that pay much less than this amount. At least, it’s enough to offset the bills of a person in a month, the estimated living cost of a person is around $1,440. While that of a small family is around $3,492 per month.

Cost Of Living: What Are The Living Expenses Like In China?

The cost of living in China varies greatly depending on where you choose to live and what level of accommodation you opt for. The city of Beijing is one of the most expensive places to live in China due to its size and reputation as a global city. Other major cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou have also seen their costs rise significantly over the last decade or so due to their growing popularity as tourist destinations.

The average living cost of a person in China is about $1,440 per month. The cost depends on the city where you live. The cities with higher living costs are Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou. You can use our calculator to find out how much money you should save for your trip.

The median salary in China is around 103,600 yuan per annum or $1,680 per month. If you have an internship or job offer in China, you can apply for a work visa and work legally with your company. That way you don’t have to worry about taxes and other issues that come with working illegally.

You must also be aware of tax laws in China: every year when you pay tax returns it can be as much as 40 percent of your income! And if you don’t pay it correctly or on time, then penalties will follow quickly.

As far as accommodation goes, there are many options available from renting a house from a landlord or sharing an apartment with friends or classmates from school or university. If you want to live alone this can be quite expensive so it’s better to share with others if possible.

Cost Of A Meal & Restaurants Food Prices In China

The cost of eating out in China varies from region to region. The average price of a meal for two in a restaurant is between ¥20 and ¥300 ($2.97-$44.60).

Eating at home is cheaper, with a basic meal costing around ¥50 ($7.43).

The following are the average prices for different types of food in China:

  • Street food – 10-20 yuan (US$2.97-$5.20) per dish
  • Fast food – 30-70 yuan (US$4.46-$10.40) per person (depending on location)
  • Indoor restaurants – 150-300 yuan (US$22.30-$44.60) per person

The cost of eating out also depends on what type of food you order and what type of establishment you visit. You can expect to spend more money on fine dining than fast food because fine dining includes more courses and alcohol consumption (which raises prices).

Eating OutPrice in Chinese Yuan (¥)
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant25.00 ¥
Three-course Meal for 2 People, Mid-range Restaurant200.00 ¥
McMeal at McDonald’s (or Equivalent Combo in a Food Chain Restaurant)35.00 ¥
Domestic Beer (0.5L)8.00 ¥
Imported Beer (0.33L)20.00 ¥
Regular Cappuccino26.11 ¥
Coke/Pepsi (0.33L)3.31 ¥
Water (0.33L)2.15 ¥

Cost Of Groceries & Consumer Goods In China

The cost of groceries in China varies depending on where you live and the quality of food you purchase. In big cities like Beijing and Shanghai, it is possible to buy food at a relatively high price point.

Fresh food is hard to find. Fruit and vegetables tend to be expensive, and they often don’t taste very good either (there’s a reason why apples are sold with a sticker on them). China’s food price index has spiked to its highest level. The price spike is due to heavy rain in major growing regions and a jump in energy prices. So, while fresh produce is better for your health, it’s not always worth the money or the hassle of finding something tasty.

Packaged foods are king. Packaged food is cheap and easy to find at any grocery store or convenience store. You’ll see lots of noodles and instant ramen, but there are plenty of other options too — canned tuna fish, canned soups, canned vegetables, frozen meals… it’s all there!

Grocery stores close early — usually around 8 pm — so plan accordingly if you’re planning to do any shopping after work.

In general, China has lower prices than most other countries. The following table shows what consumers can expect to pay for common grocery items:

Food ItemsPrice in Chinese Yuan (¥)
Regular Milk, (1L)14.05 ¥
Loaf of Fresh Bread (500g)11.93 ¥
White Rice, (1Kg)6.84 ¥
Regular Eggs (12)13.47 ¥
Local Cheese (1Kg)89.04 ¥
Chicken Fillets (1Kg)27.69 ¥
Beef Round (1Kg) (or Equivalent Back Leg Red Meat)85.58 ¥
Apples (1Kg)12.62 ¥
Banana (1Kg)10.08 ¥
Oranges (1Kg)11.45 ¥
Tomato (1Kg)8.61 ¥
Potato (1Kg)5.46 ¥
Onion (1Kg)6.48 ¥
Lettuce (1 head)4.43 ¥
Water (1.5L)4.26 ¥
Bottle of Wine (Mid-Range)80.00 ¥
Domestic Beer (0.5l)5.65 ¥
Imported Beer (0.33L)13.30 ¥
Cigarettes 20 Pack (Marlboro)25.00 ¥

Cost Of Transportation and Commuting In China

China is a big country and most of the places are not connected by rail or road. Therefore, it is not possible to travel from one place to another without spending money on transportation. The cost of transportation varies with the distance you want to cover. The cost of airfare depends on the class of travel and the airline you choose. It can be as low as $100 for a one-way ticket and as high as $1,000 for a round-trip ticket.

The cost of train travel also depends on the class of travel, on whether it is an express or local train and on whether you book it in advance or not. If you are traveling in China as a foreigner then make sure that you book your tickets well in advance because sometimes there are only very few tickets available for foreigners. For example, if you try booking tickets for a high-speed rail journey between Beijing and Shanghai then there may not be any tickets available unless you book them at least 6 months before the departure date.

The cost of bus travel depends upon which company you take it from and how long the journey takes but generally speaking it will cost more than train travel but less than air travel.

Taking public transportation is usually cheaper than taking taxis or private cars because there are fewer surcharges for using public transportation than private cars. A taxi ride from the airport into downtown Beijing will cost around $30. In Shanghai or Beijing, Uber rides start at just over $2.5 per kilometer and go up as demand increases during rush hour or on holidays and weekends when more people want rides at once

Due to an efficient public transportation system and affordable taxis, most people do not need a car in China. However, for those who choose to have a car, the cost of owning one can be quite high. The average monthly expense for car ownership is $583, which is one of the highest in the world.

TransportationPrice in Chinese Yuan (¥)
One-way Ticket3.00 ¥
Monthly Pass (Local Transport)150.00 ¥
Taxi Start (Normal Tariff)13.00 ¥
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff)2.50 ¥
Taxi 1 hour Waiting (Normal Tariff)44.00 ¥
Gasoline (1L)8.30 ¥
Volkswagen Golf 1.4 90 KW Trendline (Or Equivalent New Car)147,650.00 ¥
Toyota Corolla Sedan 1.6l 97kW Comfort (Or Equivalent New Car)136,018.39 ¥

Cost Of Basic Utilities In China

Utilities in China are generally very cheap. In some cities, like Beijing, the cost of utilities is included in rent. In others, like Shanghai, utilities are not included in rent and have to be paid separately. Utilities are typically billed to tenants every month.

Electricity costs around $0.081 per kWh, with a summer discount for air conditioning. Water costs are generally lower than electricity costs; however, they can vary depending on your location and the source of your water supply. The average cost of water per month is about $8 in China. Water is free and usually comes from a public facility in your neighborhood (called a community well).

Gas costs range from $10 to $15 per month depending on your consumption needs and what kind of heating system you have installed in your home or apartment. Trash collection costs $0.05 per bag depending on the size of your trash bag.

Internet service providers (ISPs) vary widely in price and quality. Many ISPs have contracts with hotels and businesses offering discounts to their customers if they use the ISP’s internet service instead of the hotel’s or business’s internet connection.

UtilitiesPrice in Chinese Yuan (¥)
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 45m2 Apartment366.94 ¥
Basic (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment521.08 ¥
1 min. of Prepaid Mobile Tariff Local (No Discounts or Plans)0.18 ¥
Internet (60 Mbps or More, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)93.32 ¥

Cost Of Entertainment In China

Entertainment is a big business in China, and there are many ways to enjoy yourself in this city. From visiting museums to enjoying the nightlife, there are many options for visitors.

The cost of entertainment in China is relatively low. You can see a movie, eat out or go to the theater for as little as $20 per person. A ticket to a movie costs around $9 and you can get a big bucket of popcorn for less than $2. Tickets for professional football matches are around $20 and you can get an imported beer at around $5.

If you are looking for some history, then Beijing is the place to go. It has over 5,000 years of history and culture that can be explored. You can see the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Temple of Heaven, and much more. If you want some adventure, then try climbing the Great Wall of China or exploring the Terracotta Warriors at Xi’an City.

LeisurePrice in Chinese Yuan (¥)
Fitness Club, Monthly Fee for 1 Adult284.80 ¥
Tennis Court Rent (1 Hour on Weekend)101.97 ¥
Cinema, International Release, 1 Seat45.00 ¥
iPad, wi-fi, 128GB3,064.24 ¥

Cost Of Childcare and Education In China

In China, the cost of child care varies widely by location, family size, and quality. Many families rely on grandparents or nannies to care for their children while they work, but some families prefer to pay for professional daycare. Most families pay a monthly fee of around $150 to $700 per month for one child, according to a report by HSBC.

The cost is much higher in some cities. In Beijing, for example, parents pay an average of $720 per month for full-time nursery education. For two children, the cost can easily exceed $1,440 per month or more.

The cost of education in China, including rent and living expenses, is relatively low when compared with other countries. Tuition fees at Chinese universities are also much less than those of their Western counterparts.


The average cost of a year’s study for an undergraduate course in China is about $2,000-$45,000. The costs include tuition fees, accommodation, and living expenses as well as books and other materials. This can vary from one university to another depending on the location and whether it is a private or public university.

Parents are willing to spend a lot of money on their children’s education because they believe it will lead to better job prospects in the future. The Chinese government has also been investing heavily in public education over the past decade and has tried to increase access to universities for students from rural areas by offering scholarships and admissions slots reserved for them.

TuitionPrice in Chinese Yuan (¥)
Preschool (or Kindergarten), Full Day, Private, Monthly for 1 Child3,966.64 ¥
International Primary School, Yearly for 1 Child147,838.49 ¥
International High School, Yearly for 1 Child244,743.79 ¥
Colleges and University87,235.27 ¥
Monthly expenses (rent, groceries, commuting) for a Student6,051.32 ¥

Cost Of Clothing In China

Clothing is a significant part of the Chinese consumer’s budget and also an important part of a person’s life. It’s a crucial part of self-expression, as well as a form of personal protection against the elements. Clothes also serve as a way to identify with a certain group or culture.

The cost of clothing depends on the type of garment and its material. For instance, a pair of jeans made from cotton fabric will be cheaper than one made from leather. You should also bear in mind that the cost of clothing will be higher if it has been imported from another country.

In general, the price range for most clothes ranges between $15 and $150 per item. However, some items can cost up to $200 or more depending on their material, design, and brand name. For example, if you are looking for cheap jeans, then you can easily find them for under $10 at any local market. However, if you want a pair of designer jeans made by an international brand such as Levi’s or Tommy Hilfiger, then you will have to pay around $60 or more per pair.

If you have a limited budget and want to buy clothes cheaply, then you should go to the local markets and small shops around town instead of shopping at high-end stores like Gucci or Louis Vuitton because these stores are very expensive and their prices are not worth paying for unless you desire a particular design from them.

ClothingPrice in Chinese Yuan (¥)
1 Pair of Jeans (Levi’s 501 Or Similar)403.00 ¥
1 Summer Dress in a Chain Store (Zara, H&M, …)232.15 ¥
1 Pair of Running Shoes (Adidas, Nike…)565.72 ¥
1 Pair of Men Leather Business Shoes576.98 ¥

Cost Of Personal and Health Care In China

Health care in China is a free service provided by the government. Chinese citizens can access healthcare services at designated hospitals, clinics, and other medical centers. For those who are not covered by insurance, there are charges for treatment which are decided by the government every year.

The cost of treating chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular illnesses, and diabetes is high. Medication that is prescribed to treat these diseases can be expensive as well. The government provides basic healthcare for everyone and some kinds of advanced medical services are also free. However, most people have to pay for their insurance and treatment if they want better quality healthcare.

The cost of treatment varies from region to region but generally falls between $50 – $1000 for each visit. For example, a visit to a doctor or hospital may cost about $50 to $150 per visit, while an overnight stay at a clinic will set you back about $100 to $300 per night.

But if you need surgery, expect to pay anywhere from $530 for an appendectomy to more than $50,000 for heart bypass surgery costs that are still much less than what Americans pay for similar treatments in their own country.

In addition to lower government subsidies for healthcare costs, there are also fewer insurance options available to Chinese citizens than Americans have access to through their employers or government programs like Medicare or Medicaid. While about half of Americans get health coverage through their jobs (the majority of whom pay into the system), only about 18% of Chinese workers have employer-sponsored coverage, according to RAND Health’s findings.

The cost of personal care in China is relatively low. If you are planning to travel to China, you can save a lot by bringing your toiletries. You can buy cosmetics, shampoo, and conditioner from any pharmacy or supermarket. They are usually cheap and safe to use. The average monthly expenditure for personal care among Chinese urban residents is about $60.

Chinese people are very conscious of their appearance, so cosmetics are also very affordable. For example, a tube of lipstick can cost less than $1.25 at the local drugstore, while a bottle of shampoo costs around $4. It is possible to get a haircut for $5, and an hour-long massage for $35. However, if you want to buy luxury brands like Chanel or Bourjois, then you will have to pay more than double that price.

Care ProductsPrice in Chinese Yuan (¥)
Cold Medicine (Tylenol, Frenadol, Coldrex, or equivalent brands)25.76 ¥
 Box of Antibiotics (12 doses)27.99 ¥
15 minutes to Private Doctor386.57 ¥
 Box of 32 Tampons (tampax, ob, …)29. 31 ¥
Deodorant, Roll-on (50ml – 1.5 oz.)21.16 ¥
Hair Shampoo 2-in-1 (400 ml – 12 oz.)31.54 ¥
4 rolls of Toilet Paper20.99 ¥
A Tube of Toothpaste18.70 ¥
Standard Men’s Haircut in the City84.12 ¥
Standard Men’s Haircut in the Suburb54.31 ¥

Cost Of Housing and Accommodation In China

Housing costs in China are high, and this is especially true for ex-pats. The cost of housing varies depending on the location and type of accommodation. Costs vary depending on whether you rent or buy, the size of your property, and whether it is furnished or unfurnished. In general, prices are higher in large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai than they are in smaller cities and towns.

The cost of accommodation in China varies depending on the location and type of accommodation you want. The cheapest option is to stay in a hostel or dormitory, but if you’re looking for more privacy, it will cost more.

If you want an apartment or house to rent, then the cost will be higher and many factors determine how much rent you pay, such as the area of the city you live in, the size of your apartment or house, and whether there is any furniture included.

In Beijing and Shanghai, the cost of accommodation is comparable to most European countries. Hong Kong has some of the most expensive apartment prices in the world, but also some of the cheapest options.

Accommodation costs in China tend to be higher than in other parts of Asia due to a combination of factors including high demand and low supply. However, there are many discounts available if you book in advance or look for last-minute deals.

RentPrice in Chinese Yuan (¥)
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City4,945.55 ¥
Apartment (1 bedroom) in Suburb2,852.86 ¥
Apartment (2 bedrooms) in City10,892.82 ¥
Apartment (2 bedrooms) in Suburb5,833.54 ¥
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City14,244.08 ¥
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in Suburb7,966.79 ¥

The cost of buying a house depends on the size of the property, its location, and whether it is new or old. New developments tend to be more expensive than older properties with fewer features, but the price difference can vary significantly between different areas of China.

ApartmentPrice in Chinese Yuan (¥)
Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in City Centre72,753.09 ¥
Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment Outside of Centre40,157.33 ¥

How much money do I need to live in China?

The amount of money you need to live in China varies depending on your location and lifestyle. In major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, the cost of living is higher. For a moderate lifestyle, you might need around $1,000 to $2,000 per month. This would cover accommodation, food, transportation, and some entertainment. Smaller cities and rural areas offer a more affordable cost of living, and you can live comfortably on a lower budget. International students or expatriates may have different financial needs, including tuition and insurance.

China is a growing economy with a booming job market. The country offers many opportunities for ex-pats to work, whether in an international company or as an independent contractor. The economy is growing at a rate of about 6% per year and the demand for foreign workers is growing rapidly.

There are many job opportunities for those with experience in engineering, manufacturing, sales and marketing, finance, administration, and human resources. The most common types of jobs available are teaching English and working at international companies or organizations such as KFC, McDonald’s, and Starbucks.

Teaching English is a popular option because it gives you financial stability while you learn Chinese at the same time; although it can be very challenging due to the pressure placed on teachers by both students and parents alike!

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