Start Up Costs for Moving to China

Rachel Weiss
Career China Digital Marketing Manager
Sep 17, 2019

When you’re preparing to move to China, there are different costs involved. These costs can be separated into two parts – costs you will pay before you arrive, and then costs you will pay after you’ve arrived until you get your first paycheck from your job. Here are some estimates to give you a better idea of how much the process will cost and how much you should save for moving to China.

**Note: These costs will vary depending on your home country and situation - these numbers are just a sample from some of our teachers to help you plan ahead. Please keep in mind that your situation and personal preferences could be different. We cannot guarantee these rates for you, and cannot be held responsible.

Pre-Arrival Costs

What You Will Need To Pay For:

What You Might Need to Pay:

  • Health Check: Check with your visa contact. You will either do this in your home country, or once you arrive in China
  • Excess baggage charges: This will vary depending on the airline, but normally you will pay extra for each piece of luggage or by each kg extra. You can check the excess baggage fees on the airline website once your flights are confirmed. Its often cheaper to pay for this before getting to the airport if you know you will have excess baggage. 
  • Transport to the visa office (if you live far from the consulate)
  • Vaccinations/shots
  • Phone contract cancellation or getting your phone unlocked/buying an unlocked phone.

What Career China Pays

  • Career China helps offset many of the Visa Costs upfront so you aren't paying everything!

Post-Arrival Costs

These are the costs you will need to pay after you arrive in China and during your first 6 weeks until your first paycheck.

1. Health Check

If you're doing this in China, it usually costs about $100 (600 RMB)

2. Phone Plan

Usually $15 a month depending on your plan

3. Internet in Your Apartment

Depending on your landlord and where you rent. Some places may ask you to pay the annual internet fee upfront all at once. Others you will just pay monthly

4. Daily Expenses

Buying groceries, dining out, etc. Check out what these teachers in different cities usually spend in one day.


Taking the metro, buses, taxis, and bikes and other transportation around your city

6. Household items

You’ll need to buy things to furnish your apartment like bedding, toiletries, and towels. Apartments usually come with furniture and appliances.

7. Extra

Going out with friends, sightseeing, traveling, etc  

8. Renting an apartment                       

  • 3- 6 months rent upfront: Depending on your agent and city, you will usually pay 3-6 months of rent at one time
  • Agency fee: usually one month’s rent or less
  • Security deposit: usually one month’s rent that you get back at the end of your contract
  • Housing provided - if your contract states your apartment is provided and paid for by the school you need to talk with your employer about any other costs you may need to cover. You may possibly have to cover the deposit fee that you receive at the end of the housing contract in case there are any damages.  

Read more about renting an apartment in China.

Plan Ahead and Save Enough for When You Arrive

Your first paycheck usually arrives one month after you have started your job. Many Chinese employers pay around the 15th of every month, so if you start work in September, you’ll receive that paycheck October 15. This depends on your employer though.

Depending on the time of the month that you arrive, you may need to cover 1-1.5 months. It is best to prepare enough savings in advance just in case there is a delay or obstacle with the banking system here.

Learn more about ATMs and banking in China here.

Get more great advice about China! Read The Ultimate Guide for Moving to China

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