Although prices are rising, the cost of living in China still compares favorably to most industrialized countries. You will be amazed by how comfortably you can live and how strong your purchasing power is. Some of the lifestyle advantages of living in China include: get a housekeeper, travel every month, and enjoy frequent restaurant meals, massages, and nights on the town. You can even buy and wear tailor-made clothes!


Eating local food and buying products from the Chinese markets gives our English teachers amazing insight into the Chinese diet and a glimpse at traditional Eastern medicine. It also leaves them with money in their pockets for massages and traveling.

  • Milk (1L) : 7 RMB
  • Eggs (12) : 7 RMB
  • Carrots (1kg) : 5 RMB
  • Chicken breast (1kg) : 15 RMB
  • Rice (1kg) : 8 RMB
  • Bottle of water (1.5L) : 3 RMB
  • Bottle of Chinese beer (.5L) : 4 RMB

Leisure activities

China has a wide range of regional cuisines and eating out is the best way to discover this variety. Chinese people eat out frequently and often entertain friends and colleagues in restaurants instead of having them into their homes. Whether you’re enjoying a meal with friends, working out at the fitness club, or getting a massage, you’ll find that leisure activities are often very affordable in China.

  • Three-course mid-range restaurant dinner: 80 RMB
  • Quick restaurant meal of rice or noodles: 25 RMB
  • Large steamed dumplings, a common street food : 3 RMB
  • Housekeeper (2 hours): 80 RMB
  • Massage (30 min) : 100 RMB
  • 1-month fitness club membership: 1000 RMB
  • Movie ticket, international release: 65 RMB


China has excellent, yet inexpensive public transport and even taxi rides are quite reasonably-priced. Chinese people often commute by bicycle, but this mode of transport is only for the bravest of foreigners.

  • Metro Ride : 3 RMB
  • Taxi rate per km : 2.2 RMB (start fare ~ 10RMB)
  • 20-min taxi ride across town : 25 RMB
  • City bus : 2 RMB
  • 3-hour bicycle rental : 8 RMB (plus 100RMB deposit, returned)
  • Ferry crossing : 2 RMB

Cheap travel

Any traveler on a budget will love taking trains in China. Trains are numerous and increasingly high-speed rail services connect large regional cities. Domestic flights are also usually inexpensive. There is some seasonal variation and prices rise during national holidays like Chinese New Year.

  • 1 night in a mid-range hotel: 350 RMB
  • The high-speed train, Guangzhou to Wuhan (3 hours): 490 RMB
  • Slow train, Guangzhou to Wuhan (10 hours): 120 RMB
  • Flight one-way, Guangzhou to Beijing (2 hours): 800 RMB
  • Flight one-way, Guangzhou to Bangkok (3 hours): 1300 RMB

Sample budget

To give you an idea of how teachers at English First in China spend their salary, here is a sample monthly budget:

  • Gross Income (Salary) : Up to 15,000 RMB
  • Rent: 2000- 3500 RMB
  • Utilities (electricity, gas, water): 200 RMB (Mostly school pays)
  • Phone & Internet : 300 RMB
  • Food: 2,000 RMB
  • Remaining Disposable Income: about 10,000 RMB

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