Which is the best city to live in China?

China's status as a third-world nation has long since ceased to exist. As a result, China is one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world, with almost all daily tasks being easily accomplished by phone, particularly payment. The sophisticated Chinese rail network allows for near-lightspeed travel, and working in China pays well for expats.

China's Most Liveable Cities

Among other things, we took into account factors relevant to expats living overseas, such as things to do, access to the Chinese healthcare system, and the cost of living while determining the best locations to live in China.


Shanghai, one of China's leading economic hubs and a renowned tourist destination, is well-known outside of the country as a tier 1 city. One of the world's most populous metropolises, Shanghai has a population of 24.4 million and is home to the world's first maglev train, the Bund, the world's most renowned retail district, Nanjing Road, and other cultural attractions including City God Temple and Yu Gardens.

For a taste of big city living, go to Shanghai's many renowned restaurants, nightclubs, pubs, and shopping centers. A typical one-bedroom apartment in Shanghai's city center may cost as much as RMB 7,678 (about $1,182 USD) per month in rent.

Shanghai and Beijing are the two most polluted Chinese cities, therefore you may want to consider making one of these cities your new overseas home base.


Hangzhou, one of China's "new tier 1 cities," is a tranquil location to call home. Hangzhou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the West Lake, is around 100 kilometers from Shanghai. Even Marco Polo called the West Lake "the most beautiful site in the world," and it has been a popular subject for poets and artists alike. It is also the origin of China's most renowned green tea, Longjing tea, and the silk industry.

With a population of 7.8 million people, Hangzhou is a popular tourist destination as well as a major educational hub, home to 15 colleges and institutions. Compared to adjacent Shanghai, a one-bedroom apartment in the city center costs around RMB 3,473 ($535 USD).

International hospitals in Hangzhou, such as the Hangzhou North American Hospital of Zhejiang Hospital, have personnel and physicians who understand English.


With all due respect, Beijing is China's capital city in terms of politics as well as cultural and educational institutions. Beijing has a pulsating energy because of the city's unique mix of cultures, history, and contemporary architecture. Around Beijing, you'll find eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Great Wall of China, the Summer Palace, and more. Beijing cuisine, in addition to its rich historical and cultural legacy, is world-famous for its delectable dishes like "Peking Duck" and other Chinese specialties.

The city's transportation system is well-organized, with several metro lines, buses, bike lanes, and places to rent electric scooters all readily available. With a population of over 19.6 million, this Chinese city is regarded safe and reasonably priced (as long as you stick to locally sourced foods and don't expect your waiter to be fluent in English). To live in the city's core, you'll have to fork up around RMB 7,344 ($1,134 USD) every month. If you go to one of Beijing's international hospitals, your healthcare will be world-class. For more information, have a look at our guide to the finest foreign hospitals in China.


Shenzhen is one of China's newest cities, making it a desirable location to call home. Shenzhen used to be a sleepy fishing community next to Hong Kong until the 1970s. Shenzhen's economy and population have grown tremendously since the city was designated as the first Special Economic Zone. Shenzhen, once an industrial hub, is now a financial hub with its own stock exchange, the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.

Shenzhen may be lacking in tradition and legacy, but it is ultra-modern, with attractions it creates from the ground up for its own people. You'll see small versions of the Egyptian Sphinx and Eiffel Tower in the well-known "Windows of the World" exhibit. If you want, you may go on a safari at Shenzhen's Safari Park or even try out skiing in Shenzhen Happy Valley, which is an adventure park. Shenzhen has a wide range of entertainment options to choose from.

Around 10 million people live in Shenzhen. For a day or weekend vacation, the metro line connects you with Hong Kong. A RMB 5,670 ($873 USD) one-bedroom apartment in the city center is within your reach. Shenzhen's food and drink prices are also far lower than in nearby Hong Kong, making it an enticing area for both locals and expats to call home.


Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, is one of the greatest cities in China for foreigners to reside. Chengdu-Chongqing cluster is well-positioned to become China's gateway between the world's economic and trade centers, bringing wealth and job opportunities to the region with the start of Belt and Road or new Silk Road trading initiatives between China and other parts of the world, including Europe and India.

Tourists go to Chengdu to see the Giant Panda Research and Breeding Centers, where they may get up close and personal with one of the world's few remaining Giant Pandas for a pricey admission charge (about $300 USD). Chengdu is characterized by the abundance of teahouses, which can be found on almost every street corner. Tours of Buddhist and Taoist temples may be had in Chengdu and the surrounding region, as well as other historical, religious, and heritage sites. Sichuan cuisine is known for its numbing spiciness, so spicy food lovers will feel right at home.

In Chengdu's city center, a one-bedroom apartment rents for around RMB 4,476 (689 USD) each month. Chengdu's cost of living is inexpensive when compared to other major cities, making it an attractive option for people looking to save money or use it for other purposes other than paying rent.

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