Cost of Living as an Expat in China

满Moving to China may seem like a daunting task if you have lived in Western nations but lucrative pay package and a luxurious lifestyle lures many to its shores. Though culturally and language wise there may be many challenges, there are several expats from all across the world living in these large cities and have assimilated themselves to local life. Before moving to China for a job assignment, expats should research cost of living in the country and make sure whether it suits there standards or not. Though the cost of living China is low when compared to Western nations, it is increasing rapidly in large and developing cities . For an expat, the salary can be low or high depending on the kind of life they try to lead in China and their attempts to recreate similar lifestyle practices that they are used to.

Basic expenses in China – If an expat adapts to local food brands and lifestyle, then he/she can have significant amount of savings because imported Western brands and products are much more expensive. Local dairy and wine products along with clothing and electronics brands are just as good as Western ones and are priced lower. However living in large cities like Beijing and Shanghai is as expensive as living in some European cities.

Transportation costs – Most of the large cities and suburbs in China are well connected with strong public transport system so expats rarely need to maintain a private vehicle. While locals prefer to drive around on cycles or othertypes of two wheelers, many people drivieluxury cars as well. Expats have the choice of either hiring a car or a driver to travel from work to home or other places as a mid range car with driver in a large city like Beijing and Shanghai may cost around 10,000 RMB.

Accommodation and schooling – The biggest expense for any expatriate living in China’s large cities is accommodation. While the suburbs may be lesser priced, living close to the cities’ commercial centers would be difficult as these are crowded and expensive. Rent for two bedroom apartment in an upmarket suburban neighborhood can be anywhere between RMB 10000-13000 a month if it is an old building while accommodation in a new apartment will cost three time more.


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Founders of havingababyinchina.com, Jeremy and Jacquelyn have four children. The first three were born in three different hospitals in China and the last was born at home in the US. Jeremy and Jacquelyn created havingababyinchina.com in 2009 after they found little information for foreigners having babies in China. They love connecting with other foreigners having babies. Learn more about them on the about page.

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