Cost Of Living In China For Expatriates


China has the largest population in the world, with over 1.33 billion people. The cultures and history of this place center around the most ancient Chinese civilization, making it an appealing and fascinating place for the expatriates to live in and explore.  

Due to its huge population, the country is very crowded and full of hustle & bustle; but has everything to offer to and fulfill the needs of people of different age groups and wages. 

Before the process of relocation, you must be thinking about the cost of living in china. Well, no worries, we have got you covered through this comprehensive guide about the same. So without any further ado, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of this amazing article. 

Is it cheaper to live in China than in the US?

The cost of living in China is lower than that of the US, Europe, and Australia. Moreover, it has vivid cultures, modern & high-tech cities, the best education, and incredible job opportunities, making it the best place to live for expatriates. Below is a table stating the cost of living in China vs the US( in dollars) for you to go through, compare, and decide where you want to reside. 

House rent (Per Month)$ 1,341$1,685
Basic Utilities$52.99$162.08
Food (eating at a restaurant)$ 24.47$ 45
Transportation (Public Transport)$ 16.31$ 65

The average cost of living  

The four necessary things required by people to live and survive are shelter, food, utilities, and transportation service. Before moving to the details about the cost of living in China under different heads. We have listed a table below about the average cost of living in China as a whole.   

Shelter (Rent)CNY 1281 – CNY 4483
FoodCNY 640 – CNY 960
Basic UtilitiesCNY 320 – CNY 640
Transportation Service (local transport)CNY 192 – CNY 320
TotalCNY 2434 – CNY 6405
  • RENT- The cost of accommodation in China is high, and as an expatriate, you will have to spend a large portion of your money on paying your house rent, especially if you are planning to live in Tier 1 cities such as; Beijing or Shanghai. The rent of apartments near the city center area is higher than the average, so you should contact real estate agents for helping you in getting the best deals. The table given below states the cost of living in China in terms of house rent:-
Per month rent of a fully furnished 900 sqft, accommodation in an expensive areaCNY 12,210
Per month rent of a fully furnished 900 sqft, accommodation in a normal areaCNY 6,851
Per month rent of a fully furnished 480 sqft, accommodation in an expensive areaCNY 6,573
Per month rent of a fully furnished 480 sqft, accommodation in a normal areaCNY 4,201
  • UTILITIES- The cost of utilities in China is stated in the table below:-
Utilities like heating, gas, and electricity for 2 people in a 900 sqft. Flat (1month)CNY 341
Utilities like heating, gas, and electricity for 1 person in a 480 sqft. Flat (1month)CNY 312
Flat-screen TV (40 inches)CNY 1,810
Internet (8 Mbps) (1 month)CNY 101
Microwave (800 – 900 watts)CNY 553
Solar panelsCNY 17.62/W
  • FOOD- Chinese cuisine is an important part of Chinese culture. The food there has unique features and exquisite cooking techniques. Some of the popular & classic foods of China that you should definitely during your stay are; Hotpot, Sichuan Pork, Braised Pork Balls in Gravy, Shrimp with Garlic and Vermicelli, Dumplings, Peking Roasted Duck, Steamed Vermicelli Rolls, Fried Shrimp with Cashew Nuts, and many more. You can also buy food items from the market and prepare your food. Thus, below-mentioned is the table of the cost of living in China in terms of food:- 
Boneless Chicken Breast (1lb.)CNY 16
Chicken Fillets (1 lb.)CNY 12.47
Beef or Leg Red Meat (1lb.)CNY 37.12
12 large size eggsCNY 16
Milk (1qt.)CNY 15
Tomatoes (1kg.)CNY 9
Potatoes (1kg)CNY 5.94
Apples (1kg)CNY 14
Local cheese (16 oz.)CNY 50
White rice (1lb.)CNY 3.03
Bread (2 people)CNY 13
  • ENTERTAINMENT- The cost of living in China in terms of entertainment is mentioned in the below table:- 
Movie tickets for 2 peopleCNY 106
Theatre tickets for 2 peopleCNY 453
An hour of playing PoolCNY 20
An hour of playing SnookerCNY 32
An hour of Playing BilliardsCNY 28 – CNY 35
Hourly rate of playing PokerCNY 35 – CNY 49
  • TRANSPORTATION- After moving to China you will go out for work or explore the city, and for that, you have to use the transportation services. So, in the table mentioned below, we have listed the cost of living in China in terms of transportation. 
Fare of a high-speed train (for 3 hours journey)CNY 490
Fare of a slow-speed train (for 3 hours journey)CNY 120
One-way Flight Journey (intercountry) (2 hours)CNY 800
One-way Flight Journey (international) (3 hours)CNY 1300
One-way bus ticketCNY 2
Monthly bus-ticket passCNY 120
Taxi ride (1 hour)CNY 36
Metro rideCNY 3
Rental bicycle (3 hours)CNY 8
  • DEPENDING ON YOUR LIFESTYLE- When you will relocate to China, you may enjoy some leisure activities or eat in luxury restaurants and hotels; thus the cost of doing such things is mentioned in the table below:-
Basic dinner in a pub for 2 peopleCNY 251
Fancy dinner in an Italian restaurant including starters, main course, dessert, and wineCNY 391
A cocktail drink in a clubCNY 76
Good quality red table wine (1 bottle)CNY 118
Stay at a luxury hotelCNY 2,479
Entry fee for cultural and historical sightseeingCNY 64 – CNY 320
Entry fee of theme parks and special tourist attractionsAbove CNY 640
  • DEPENDING ON YOUR LOCATION- The government of China has divided its cities into a tier system. The cities in Tier 1 and New Tier 1 are the wealthiest and largest of all, and these cities include; Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and more. The cities in Tier 2 are quite affordable and have an average cost of living in China; they include:- Xiamen, Wuxi, Wenzhou, Fuzhou, and more. The Tier 3 cities of China, have less population as compared to the first two tiers and also have a lower cost of living, these cities include; Guilin, Lanzhou, Shangaro, Pinjin, and many more. Given below; is the table that states the comparative cost of living between the three cities of the three different tiers. 
Basic Lunch, including a drink (in a business area)CNY 41CNY 58CNY 24
Monthly rent of a 900sqft fully-furnished house in an expensive areaCNY 19, 465CNY 4,106CNY 2,500
Monthly rent of a 900sqft fully-furnished house in a normal areaCNY 11,118CNY 3,234CNY 1,874
Utilities for a 900sqft flat (1 month)CNY 416CNY 280CNY 984
Ticket of public transport (1 month)CNY 225CNY 62CNY 133
Internet (1 month)CNY 166CNY 92CNY 60

After reading the above data, it’s upto you to decide to reside in the city belonging to which tier. Make a wise choice that suits your salary. 

Pros & Cons 

After learning about the cost of living in China as an expatriate, we would like to tell you about the pros and cons of living and working in China. 


  • Unique language and culture
  • Extremely cheap to live
  • Convenient to live
  • Access to a wide range of services
  • Great variety of foods
  • Safe to live
  • Great public transport
  • Traveling to nearby countries is not expensive


  • Internet restrictions
  • Bad pollution
  • Language acts as a barrier
  • Difficult, to make friends due to language and cultural differences
  • Costs keep on rising


  • What jobs are in high demand in China?
  • If you are an expatriate and want to relocate to China, you can:- 
  1. Work as a teacher. 
  2. Work in the trade/commerce industry & IT sector. 
  3. Work as a freelance writer or editor.
  4. Seek a job in the marketing sector.
  5. Work as an engineer. 
  6. Perform a managerial job. 
  7. Work in the tourism sector. 
  8. Work as a financial advisor. 
  • What is the average cost of living in China?
  • The average salary in China to the people working in different industries are; 
CopywriterCNY 330,873
CashierCNY 114,835
Graphic DesignerCNY 269,578
Financial AnalystCNY 317,603
ReceptionistCNY 166,965
Mobile developerCNY 345,223
TeacherCNY 259,201
Web developerCNY 261,611
Software EngineerCNY 217,849
Product managerCNY 347,706
  • Is China a good place to live for the expatriates?
  • Absolutely yes, China is much safer than cities major cities like New York and London. The people here are friendly and are not involved in activities such as harassment or catcalling of foreigners. The crime rate in China is also very less and the street lights are also lit up well, so one can easily step out in the city at night. Moreover, the cost of living in China is cheaper than in various major cities around the globe. 


China is a great country, with fascinating history, great natural features, huge cities, enthralling places to visit, scrumptious delicacies to enjoy, and the list is endless. We have tried our best to provide you with the most beneficial insights, the estimated cost of living in China, and the pros & cons of moving into this country full of diversity. Now it’s up to you to decide where to live and how much to spend according to your pocket. 

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