Expats In China Costs Of Living

It might be difficult to figure out how to manage your money as an expat in China. It might be challenging to find out how to budget and save money due to the wide range of local costs in China. To assist you better prepare for your aspirations, we've compiled this in-depth reference to the expenses of living as an expat in China.

Overview Of Expats In China Costs Of Living

Because of the sheer vastness and variety of China's cities, the cost of living there varies greatly from one to the next. Although the food, healthcare, transportation, and housing costs of China's five most populous cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Chongqing) are relatively comparable from one another, there are important regional, cultural, and economic disparities between them.

When compared to the rest of the world, living expenses in China are quite low. The cost of living is cheaper than in the United States and the United Kingdom, which have large but relatively isolated populations. Although particular costs and savings may vary by location, expats should generally expect to save money and live comfortably on a middle-class wage.

Costs Of Living In Beijing

Beijing, the capital city of China, has experienced explosive growth in recent years and has become one of the most important economic and financial centers of the world. This makes Beijing a prime destination for expats to consider living, and the cost of living here is generally high compared to other cities in China.

The average monthly cost of living in Beijing is around 12,000 RMB (~US$1,800). This includes costs such as rent, food, transportation, and healthcare. Expats should also plan extra spending money for leisure and entertainment, as the cost of dining out and shopping can be quite high. This makes living in Beijing relatively expensive, but it’s still considered to be a good value compared to similarly sized cities in Europe and North America.

Costs Of Living In Shanghai

Shanghai is another large and important city in China. It is known for being an international financial hub, which means that the cost of living here is comparable to cities such as New York and London – albeit with much better value.

The average monthly cost of living in Shanghai is around 8,000 RMB (~US$1,200). This covers costs such as rent, food, transportation, and healthcare. As part of the “Paris of the East”, expect to pay more for leisure and recreation than in other cities. The costs of entertainment and shopping can be quite high, but there are also cheaper options available.

Costs Of Living In The Rest Of China

The cost of living in other cities in China can vary greatly. For example, cities such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen are known to have a high cost of living due to their proximity to Hong Kong, while other cities such as Chengdu and Xi’an are more affordable.

In terms of average costs, most cities in China fall into the 4,000-8,000 RMB (~US$600-1,200) range. This covers the costs of rent, food, transportation, and healthcare (although costs can vary based on the city). As with other cities, additional spending for leisure and entertainment should be taken into consideration.

Budgeting For Expats In China

When budgeting as an expat in China, it’s important to think beyond just the cost of living. Expats should also consider the cost of taxes, health insurance, and possible cost of living increases, as these can all add up in the long run.

In terms of savings, the cost of living in China is generally lower than in other countries – especially in less expensive cities such as Chengdu and Xi’an. This can create a great opportunity for expats to save and invest more of their money. Additionally, there are many tax incentives available in China, which can help expats save even more in the long term.


Navigating the cost of living in China as an expat can be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. By familiarizing yourself with the different costs in different cities, you can better prepare yourself for your move and budget effectively. The cost of living in China can vary, but overall, it is considered to be an affordable country to live in. With the right planning and budgeting, you can enjoy a comfortable expat life in any of China’s cities.

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