Cost of living 2019 in China

Hello everyone,

As we usually do each year, we invite you to share your experiences and tell us more about the average prices of products and services in your town/city/area, so that we have updated information regarding cost of living and inflation in China.

Thanks to your contribution, future expats in China will be more informed and will be able to refine their budget and better prepare for their big move.

How much does it cost to rent an apartment or a house in China? How about buying an apartment or a house in China?

How much do you pay on average for public transportation (bus, subway, train, tram, taxi)?

How much do you pay for basic food items such as rice, bread, and pasta?

What is your monthly budget for groceries?

How much does it cost to see a doctor or health specialist in China?

How much do you pay for health insurance per month?

How much does childcare cost on average per month?

What is your child's schooling budget per month?

How much does it cost to fill up your car’s fuel tank?

How much do you pay for electricity/gas/water etc., per month?

How much do you pay for your internet and phone subscription?

How much do you pay for your lunch pack on weekdays?

How much do you pay for an espresso coffee?

How much do you pay for a cinema ticket?

How much does a gym membership cost in China?

Thank you for sharing your experience.

Priscilla

How much does it cost to rent an apartment or a house in China? How about buying an apartment or a house in China?

My current house is 300 m2 with 100m2 porch and a wine cellar. It is on the beach with a great view of Macao. It was a huge wine cellar. The house rent is 8000 RMB/month. There is also a building fee that runs around 600 RMB/month. The contract is a one year housing contract, with first, last and security.

How much do you pay on average for public transportation (bus, subway, train, tram, taxi)?

Bus rides in Zhuhai are under 1 RMB.
Typically a cab ride in Jia will run from 15 to 30 RMB depending on the trip. You can save money by using dd and save around 5 to 10 RMB per trip.
The ferry fom Zhuhai to Shenzhen costs under 200RMB.
The bus shuttle from the ferry port to the zhuhai airport will run you 25 RMB.
Flights, domestic will generally be in the 200 to 1000 RMB range. depending on season, aircraft and destination.

How much do you pay for basic food items such as rice, bread, and pasta?

A loaf of french bread is 8 RMB.
A mini loaf of sandwich bread is 6 RMB.
A bag of rice is 40 - 50 RMB.
Noodles are cheap, maybe a few RMB per package.

What is your monthly budget for groceries?

We spend around 200 RMB/week on groceries. Mostly we buy meats, vegetables and a few choice snacks.

How much does it cost to see a doctor or health specialist in China?

clinic visit. depends on the issue. 5 RMB for a nurse injection. Bad cold. Maybe 35 RMB. Visit the doctor for some ailment ...up to 200 RMB.

hospital visit. You need to put 5000 RMB on the hospital card, and let them rack up the charges. If you go with local Chinese medicines, the cost will be rather inexpensive. If you go with Western medicine the cost can be expensive.

traditional chinese doctor. depends on the issue. 50 to 200 RMB. Medicine will run you another 100 to 200 RMB. The medicine will last for one week.

How much do you pay for health insurance per month?

Zero. For chinese locals, they get medical insurance through your work. It's pretty cheap, at only a few hundred RMB/month. Never deducted from pay. The company must pay if they operate a business within china.

Three years ago I tried to see what the cost of an American AcA (Obamacare) health insurance would be for me and my wife. I was quoted 8,000 USd or 48,000 RMB/month with a 5,000 USd deductible (30,000 RMB deductible). Nonsense. When in china, we just pay in cash.

How much do you pay for electricity/gas/water etc., per month?

electricity is around 150-170 RMB/month winter. Summer is 800-1000 RMB/two months.
Water is included in the building fee, same with garbage, security and housekeeper, and ground keeper costs.

How much do you pay for your internet and phone subscription?

Internet 1448 RMB/year + 300 RMB installation fee
Phone is around 5 RMB/month

How much do you pay for your lunch pack on weekdays?

Lunch is 15 RMB

How much do you pay for an espresso coffee?

coffee latte is 16 RMB

How much do you pay for a cinema ticket?

cost is 30 RMB/person with membership

Vannrox, had the right idea on how to do this so I will follow suit:

How much does it cost to rent an apartment or a house in China? How about buying an apartment or a house in China?

I don't live anywhere near the beach...but here in the frozen north of China rents are not bad.  They have gone up in some areas because parents will pay more to live near a very good school.  I happen to live near two of the top high schools so my rent has gone up a little.  You pay the full year's rent up front, and to be honest I like my apartment so I have a 3 year deal locked in with my landlady.  My monthly rent when I moved in (June 2011) was 1800 RMB per month, it's now 7 years later and I pay 2000 RMB per month.  It's not fancy, no view, and very basic, old style housing (Russian influence).  I have two small balcony areas, one off my kitchen and one off my living room.  I have two rooms, a bed room and living room, an entry area, bathroom and kitchen, all small and maybe 500 Sq. Ft total.  (46 sq m).

Housing costs here are through the roof as people scramble to buy apartments...in my building to buy my small apartment and then renovate it to make it more modern would cost over 2 million RMB, no joke...renting is a good option.  Overall rents can run between 1800 - 4000 depending on what you want and they can be much more if you want to rent a luxury place like a stand alone home, which are rare but available.  I do have one friend who lives in a high end complex and they pay 15,000 RMB per month but her husband works for a German auto company so it's the company and not them footing the bill.

Overall rents here are comparable to salary, you don't earn that much as a teacher but then you don't pay that much to rent, so it's okay.

How much do you pay on average for public transportation (bus, subway, train, tram, taxi)?


The bus is 1 or 2RMB per trip, subway will vary depending on distance but no more than 6 RMB, trains will depend on where you are going but to take the train to the International airport will run 8 RMB one way, we have a light-rail system and it's similar to the subway based on distance and it's cheap not more than 6 RMB, and didi or taxi are the most they're about 6RMB for the first 6 km and then 1 RMB for each km thereafter...a typical trip is about 25-30 RMB.  I get around mostly by bus or subway, I use taxis or didi's only if my boss is paying...

How much do you pay for basic food items such as rice, bread, and pasta?


Basic food items are not bad, bread about 2 RMB for a small loaf, french bread is more, about 6 RMB for a baguette, rice for 500 g. about 25 RMB but it can run more if you want very high quality rice or organic, the North-east of China has some of the best rice in all of China...just bragging.  Pasta can run about 8 RMB for the foreign stuff and that's for a 1/2  pound (lb) box of the stuff on sale...it's usually more. If you want more of the "foreign" stuff you can shop at Metro (like a Costco) and you can save money if you go with a few people and split it up.  We can buy a block of Cheddar cheese for around 360 RMB and then divide that out between 3 of us which means we paid 120 RMB each for about 2 lbs of cheese.  If we just buy the 8 oz block they cost about 50 RMB each so you can see it makes sense to do it this way.  If it's only me, I spend very little on basics because it's so much cheaper to eat out here.  But stocking up on a few items I will use, it then makes sense to go with a few others and buy in bulk once a month or once every other month at Metro. 

What is your monthly budget for groceries?


I spend very little to be honest because I am rarely home to cook.  I would say my monthly budget is less than 200 RMB per week.  However, it's pretty common here to spend about 300 - 400 per week if you cook a lot.  Veggies are cheap, you can buy 4 large tomatoes, 2 large cucumbers, mixed greens for salad about 1 lb, 3 large onions, 6 medium carrots, 5 large potatoes, for about 50 RMB from the local wet market and it's really fresh...in a modern supermarket that same mix of veggies will run about a 100 RMB, it's really up to you where to shop.  Meat at the wet market is fresh in the morning and cheaper than a supermarket, lamb is around 15-20 RMB per lb, beef is a little more, but chicken is pretty cheap around 8-10 RMB per lb.  Fish (if you know where to buy it) is not too bad, sushi fresh salmon is around 20-25 RMB per lb.   Fruit tends to be a little expensive since much of it isn't local.  Apples are cheap because we can grow them here, so around 5 - 6 RMB per lb, but mangoes can run 25-30 RMB per lb.  it just depends on what you like and how much you want to pay. 

How much does it cost to see a doctor or health specialist in China?


If you are a foreigner having health insurance isn't practical so when I came to China back in 2007 I was told I had to have a policy, I spent $500 USD and it was a waste of my money because no one would accept it here.  I found out quickly that medical care is reasonably priced and easy in most cases to navigate with just a little help.  You can find doctors here who speak English and you can go to more expensive (as local Chinese will tell you) hospitals and clinics for more "western" style care.  I use a mix of Chinese and Western medicine depending on what the problem is.  I have also made friends with some local doctors and that has been good for both of us.

The cost to see a doctor here in China isn't much but it will depend on the problem.  Most of the doctors I've seen are part of the tests I've had to take (see below).  Just to see a doctor expect to pay around 200 RMB more or less.  If you go to a hospital you will pay a small fee to register (3 RMB) and then you put money on a card and when they use that up you'll put more on the card after they have tallied up all the costs.  Hospital stays can cost around 10,000 RMB and you will need to provide many items yourself including some personal care items.  All the nurses will do is change or administer IVs, you don't get food, you will need someone to bring food to you, and you really do need someone to stay with you when you are in the hospital, just a good thing to do.  BTW, you can get Western care but only at very expensive Western type hospitals, expect to pay much more.

A typical x-ray will cost around 200 RBM, ultra-sound can be around the same, CT scans, will run slightly more and MRIs can run from 500-700 RMB.  The tests will include a doctor to explain the results but you will need help because it's usually in Chinese. 

Medicine will depend, but typically most foreigners get sick with flu and cold illnesses, or food poisoning which is very common.  You can get OTC meds easily, and antibiotics too.  Most will run between 30 - 100 RMB depending on the brand.  I can get German made azithromycin (which is pretty good stuff) and I pay around 45-65 RMB for 10 pills.  (BTW if you want to use this like a Z-pak, double up since the German pills are 125mg each and a Z-pak is 250mg each). 

How much do you pay for health insurance per month?


Short answer, too expensive to have from back home (USA) and not able to get here locally.  That may change soon as the government is looking into making local companies provide health care for expats the same as they do for Chinese.  Our company gives us 2000 RMB per year to use for medical issues.

How much does childcare cost on average per month?


I don't have kids but I'm told it can run as cheap as 1500RMB per month to up to 5000 RMB per month, it's one reason why most Chinese young parents live close to their older parents because it can be expensive.

What is your child's schooling budget per month?

Again I don't have kids but it's costly.  If a local kindergarten will take your child (foreign) then be prepared to spend 4000-5000 per month for kindergarten, older kids will most likely have to attend an international school and the fees per year can be very high.  50,000 - 100,0000 per year depending on the school.  You really need to check out schools and you need to be sure they will provide your child with a good education.  Many expats I know home school for that reason.

How much does it cost to fill up your car’s fuel tank?


I don't have a car (or motorbike any more) but you need to get used to liters when you've been used to gallons.  It's about 4 liters per gallon so if you do the math it will make sense.  If it's around 6 RMB per liter that would make it 24 RMB per gallon, or just about $4 USD per gallon.  Fuel costs are not bad, but driving in China is insane.

How much do you pay for electricity/gas/water etc., per month?


I have some of the lowest costs around, my electric bill is never more than 30 RMB per month, water is around 10 RMB, I don't use gas so I can't tell you, but all my apartment extra costs never run more than 50 RMB per month.  Now that said, I do have teachers who pay substantially more, so the average cost based on my teachers would be about 100-150 RMB per month for water, gas and electric.  Let me also be clear drinking water is a separate cost and most of us order bottled water (5 gallons) those can run as little as 12 RMB or as much as 20RMB per bottle it depends on the water company.

How much do you pay for your internet and phone subscription?

Internet DSL for one year is now 850 RMB, if you want WiFi it will depend on the provider and what deal you can get from them, if you purchase your cell phone and internet as a package it's best.  I have a stupid phone (burner) and I pay 100 RMB to put money on it about twice a month but that's because I am a Foreign Teacher Manager and I use it alot (we have 27 teachers now).  I used to put that amount on my phone once every other month., so you can see it can vary with use.  Most of my teachers have package rates with their phone provider for unlimited data and they pay about 100-150 RMB per month for such a package.  It will depend on how much data you will use, the more you use the more you pay.

How much do you pay for your lunch pack on weekdays?

Not sure what a lunch pack is, but if I want lunch on the cheap I can get rice with meat and veggies for around 10 RMB and it's a good lunch.  Depending on where you decide to eat you can eat cheap 10 RMB or spend much more over 100 RMB it just depends on you.

I eat lunch and dinner out most days and my budget for the week is about 25-30 RMB per day, or about 250 RMB per week, it just depends if I order Subway or Burger King which I sometimes do if I am rushed.  I get really good Chinese meals however for under 20 RMB most days.  I can get a decent Chinese breakfast for under 5 RMB...it depends on you and what you like eating.

How much do you pay for an espresso coffee?

Okay I am a Starbucks fan because there is one next door to my office and often Starbucks is my office.  My typical cappuccino runs 32 RMB but with their Starbucks rewards card, after every 9th star I get one free.  I have to say I spend more on my coffee each week than I do on meals..LOL  However, if you like McD's a cappuccino will only run you 8RMB and it's not bad.

How much do you pay for a cinema ticket?

I don't go to many movies but the last one I saw ("Fantastic Beasts 2" in 3D) ran 40 RMB, you can see movies here in 5D too...not sure of the cost.  I tend to get really cheap DVDs for 10 RMB and watch at home.  That's just my choice.  You can see movies in English but you need to be sure before you book tickets, and you can do that on your phone now.

How much does a gym membership cost in China?

I don't work out but many of my teachers have gym memberships.  They will entice you with a cheap rate to get you in then hike it up.  There are some gyms that offer intro rates of 30 RMB for a month to get you in, then you will pay a yearly contract that can be well over 3000 RMB...if you are very serious and will use the gym even weekly it pays but most of the time they make money and you lose it.  Be smart and just walk instead of taking a taxi for short trips, go jog in a local park, hang out in any neighborhood when they do dance exercise or Tai Chi.  Joining these groups is very cheap, usually 5 RMB per session or free if you are a foreigner because they are so curious about you.  You can buy your own treadmill for around 1000 RMB on Taobao, or even some weights..these may be better choices than spending on a gym membership that may not prove useful.  Be careful and take someone with language with you because once you pay you can't always get your money back.  Equipment breaks down or the business may close...there are so many factors that may not make this a good choice.

These are costs in Beijing.

Rent is 3000 RMB for a 2 bedroom flat. Your employer usually pays.

It costs about £200,000 to buy a house.

Water is £25 a year. I have only been billed once in my 11 months here.

Electricity is no more than £20 a month.

A gas refill is £11 and will last for 2-3 months.

Unlimited, 4G internet is £10 a month. Speeds vary but you can get upwards of 40 mbps.

A meal at a good restaurant is £15-20.

A meal at a mid-range restaurant is between £5-10.

A short bus journey is 12-24p.

An hour on the subway is maybe £3. It's been a while since I used it.

A taxi journey of 60km is about £23.

Fruit and vegetables are cheap.

Meat is cheap but the quality of chicken is terrible. The quality of the beef is good.

Groceries will easily come in at under £100 a month.

I think cinema tickets are less than £4.

A pay TV sub with football from all the major leagues, wrestling. UFC and movies is £11 a
month.

Child care? You'd need to hire an English speaker, which would be difficult, unless you and your kids speak Chinese.

Medical costs? It's not practical. They use different medications. You can find the Chinese equivalents but if you go to hospital, you'll be waiting hours or 2-3 days if you order online.

Bring prescription medication, cold and flu remedies and paracetamol with you.

Dear Baybars:

This is good info...but could you tell us what the exchange is from UK pounds to RMB?  10 pounds = ? RMB

Also, if you need cold and flu meds you can go to any pharmacy and find it easily, you can get American brands like Tylenol cold and flu meds.  If you need help doing that I can PM you a photo of the package.

Many of the Chinese cold and flu are good too. 

对乙酰氨基酚片  this is the Chinese for paracetamol, and they do sell Ibuprofen but you need to ask for it by it's Chinese name.   I have found Tylenol which doesn't require Chinese as it's in English.

中文翻译 吕氏英汉字典[简体]: [繁体] 请输入英文: Ibuprofen  Just in case.

Hope that helps

I know how to find the names of UK medicines but they don't have standard cough syrups. Their cough medicine is usually awful tasting powdered rubbish. It's also weak. Western medicine tends to me more potent. Tylenol is a good pain killer. £1 = 8.7 RMB.

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