If you are thinking of moving to China, you probably want to know the cost of living so you can budget appropriately. For myself, I wanted to live in a relatively large city that has a low cost of living.
Well, if you are thinking of bootstrapping a business, you want to reduce the rate that you drain your savings account during the time that it takes to get your business project off the ground. If you choose to get a part-time job while working on your business, a low-cost of living and a high purchasing power (basically how much you are paid relative to the cost of living), is very important.
If you are teaching English in China, you will probably find that working full-time will more than cover your cost of living in China. If you don’t party excessively, then you should stand to save anywhere from 600 – 1200 $ USD a month. That’s pretty awesome considering not many people are able to do anything close to that back at home. I have met many English teachers from the UK, US, and Canada who say that they are able to save more money while teaching English in Asia than if they worked normal jobs back at home.
In general the cost of living in China is lower than back at home, but you should be aware that major cities are becoming more and more expensive as China’s economy grows.
So how do the numbers in Guangzhou stack up? Let’s take a look:
Rent: Basic, 1 bedroom apartment: 2000-3000 RMB/month ($330-500 USD / month)
2000 RMB is probably as low as you will want to go for your own apartment in Guangzhou. Don’t expect anything fancy. If it is close to a metro it will be more expensive (or compensates in other ways, like not having an elevator despite being on the 9th floor!)
Check out these local listings: (HINT: the red ‘Y’ symbol means its close to a metro station)
Food: Groceries for a week can go from 800-1200 RMB / month ($120-200 USD)for one person. An inexpensive meal (cheap eats) will go for about 8 – 12 RMB.
Transportation: A monthly metro pass is about 70 RMB / month ($12 USD)
Mobile: Cost of a pre-paid 3G SIM with 300 MB data, and reasonable amount of calls/SMS texts is 66 RMB / month ($11)
Internet: Cost of broadband internet is about 120 RMB / month ($20 USD).
VPN: If you plan on using Google, Facebook, or Youtube at all in China, you are going to need a VPN. We did an in-depth review of some the best VPN services in China. Cost is typically 40 RMB / month. (6$ / month).
Utilities: Heating / AC / Electrical + Water is about 200-300 RMB / month ($33 – 50 USD)
GRAND TOTAL: 3250 – 3850 RMB / month (or $540- 640 USD / month)
That’s pretty darn low! Granted, this is a pretty basic budget. Obviously you will need to factor in things such as entertainment, hygiene supplies, haircuts, clothing, booze and other vices (cigarettes are quite cheap in China). You always tend to spend more than you think. That being said I think 6000 RMB or 1000 USD / month should be a comfortable budget.
To put things into perspective, the median local salary (after tax) is about 4000 RMB / month. If you end up teaching English full-time you should expect to make at least 12, 000 RMB / month.
If you are moving to Guangzhou, China, you will be relieved to know that the cost of living for now is pretty low for a city of its size. If you are teaching English full-time, you should be able to comfortably cover your costs and save a decent chunk in the bank. If you are like me and hoping to work part-time in order to focus more time on building a business, then working 15 hours / week should be enough to cover your costs.