The cost of living in China is something that is often misunderstood. Many people think that the cost of life in China is cheaper than other places in the world. It’s true that China is still a developing country and the living standard for the majority of the population is very low. However, the cost of living in the major cities is comparable to other big cities in developed regions. Still labeled a third world country, China’s major cities – Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou – have surpassed the US in their creative architecture, attractive job offers and innovative apartments. They also offer amazing nightlife, a unique culture, plenty of drinking and dining options, and career opportunities.
So, what’s the answer? Is China a cheap or expensive country?
The answer is not easy. Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong have become some of the most expensive cities to live in the world. If you move within the “higher circles” of Chinese society and expat communities, expect to pay Western prices at top-level restaurants and other places.
On the other hand, you can still live relatively cheaply if you stick to the living standards of the lower and middle class ends of the local population. Riding buses instead of taxies, eating at cheap noodle outlets and living in an old-fashioned Chinese apartment with little or no amenities will save you a lot of money. If you move out of the big cities, prices for everything drop dramatically, often by more than half.
Au Pair programs are a great opportunity to live in and discover China as a citizen – and not as a tourist. Take a look to our Cultural exchange programs.