When people think about teaching in China, one of their biggest concerns is if they'll be able to earn enough money – money for important things like monthly rent and student loan payments, but also extra cash to do some traveling and splurge on fun things!
Many people are surprised to find that working as an English Teacher in China actually provides more than just a comfortable life. The cost of living in China is lower than many other countries and allows you to have many luxuries, many of which you probably couldn't afford if you lived in your home country.
The cost of eating out in China is quite cheap, especially if you dine out the way Chinese people do. There are tons of affordable and delicious options that make it easy to go out for dinner without breaking bank. In fact, lots of foreigners in China will eat out for a majority of their meals!
Of course, if you're someone who enjoys a daily cup of Starbucks and wants to eat at fancy foreign restaurants all the time it will be much more expensive, but if you pick up some cues from the local people, you'll find the best places to eat and save money.
Learn more about some of China's dining habits.
In China it is popular to have an “ayi”, or auntie, come to your apartment to clean a few times a month. Having a regular cleaner may not be affordable in other places, but in China it is very doable!
Depending on your arrangement, your ayi may even cook and do laundry for you. Hiring an ayi to clean your home generally costs RMB30-60 per hour for at least two hours of work, but the cost can vary depending on which city you live in and the work you're requiring.
When you compare taxi prices for China and other countries, you'll be amazed by how inexpensive China is. Chinese taxis are cheap and not just limited to big cities - they're everywhere in China and won't cost you an arm and a leg to use.
In smaller cities, the taxi meter will start around 7 RMB for the first 3km, while in big cities it will start around 13 RMB. Make sure the taxi driver uses the meter and doesn't overcharge you, though! Another popular option is to use the Chinese app Didi (similar to Uber) to call a car for a low price.
If you're looking for other transportation methods in China, there's a vast network of trains, metros, buses, and shared bikes to get you places for low costs, as well.
If you're hungry, need to buy groceries, or want to do some online shopping, but you don't want to leave your apartment, don't worry. There's an app for all of the above and they'll deliver to you quickly and very cheaply!
Check out these apps:
Read this guide about How To Order Food Online in China.
Traveling internationally is easy to do from China! With China being located right in the middle of Asia, you're close to so many other countries. Vietnam, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea are all close and great options for your holidays off. If you book early enough you can find really cheap tickets and cross more countries off your bucket list!
When you want to relax and have a little getaway, treat yourself to a foot massage or facial! You can find very affordable places for beauty treatments, especially if you find more local shops and don't go to the big expensive places. Lots of teachers in China will go for monthly or weekly massages, as well as routine manicures and pedicures!
If you're feeling super adventurous, you can try cupping, the ancient Chinese form of therapy that involves a suctioning glass cup being placed on your body to increase circulation.
As an English teacher in China you have the luxury of time. You still put in the hours for a usual work week, but have the chance to invest your free time into exploring new hobbies, learning a new culture, and meeting new people! Many people will take Chinese lessons, join gyms and sport leagues, or try other activities. There are so many affordable and fun groups you can join.
Check out 6 Ways To Meet People While Living in China.
Teaching English in China doesn't mean you'll be super rich by any means, but it's possible to have a very comfortable life, pay your bills, and enjoy many luxuries! If you learn tricks for living cost effectively, you can not only afford the basics, but also enjoy some of the finer things in life.
Of course, the cost of living will depends on what kind of city you are in – if you're in a bigger city like Beijing and Shanghai, the cost of living and rent will be higher than a smaller city, but then the salary will generally be higher as well. For more information, read about the Cost of Living for an Expat.