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If you’re new to China, you know that there are heaps of job vacancies in teaching  here. However, once you've found the right job and you have your flight ticket, one of your main worries is likely to be that of living costs. Although the average income in China is around $4,200 a year (as of 2012), it is important to note that ESL teachers tend to get paid substantially more than that. However, your salary and living expenses vary depending on location. China is a large country with cities in all shapes and sizes. Your salary will in turn vary with these local conditions.


The Four Most Expensive

One index ranks Beijing as the most expensive city to live in mainland China, followed closely by Shanghai. Guangzhou and Shenzhen rank third and fourth. This is not to say however, that these are expensive cities. It simply means that if you want to empty your bank account, there are more opportunities for you to do so. A night in one of Shanghai’s upmarket hotels can easily set you back US $400 a night. Top this off by a night out in some of the swankier bars in the French concession and see your money evaporate. However, if you live, what we consider "normally", you will find that the average cost of living is far below American or European standards. You could easily eat well for under $10 a day. A take-away consisting of rice, two vegetable dishes and a meat dish runs at around $2. Fancy a beer? That will be 50 cents for 500 ml bottle. 

Your main expenses in the larger cities, however, will be rent. A decent one-bedroom apartment in Shanghai will likely start around the $650, climbing to $1000 a month depending on location. Bear in mind, however, that average teacher income in the four most expensive cities are not only higher but may also include a housing allowance or even a free apartment. 

All in all, let’s say you earn RMB 15,000 a month, equal to US $2,400 in 2012. Assuming that your rent is $800 a month, this leaves you with $1,600 for living expenses and savings. If you regularly eat locally and assuming a few nights out on the weekends, you should feasibly save around $1,000 with a bit of careful money management. 

Other Cities

If you opt for job vacancies in teaching in the lesser-known cities like Xi’an, Chengdu, Harbin and Qingdao, your costs will fall dramatically. While it’s true that your salary will fall, this is consummate with respect to local costs. In all, prices are about half of that in the four expensive Chinese cities. A set lunch will set you back around $1. An upscale, world-class apartment with four rooms, communal pool, gym, concierge with a panoramic view of the city is around $400 a month. Considering that the average salary of an ESL teacher in these cities is around $1,500, you do end up saving roughly the same amount (or even more) each month. In addition, you get to experience more of the “real” China.

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Happy Teaching Nomads

  • Kimmi, USA  Placed in Shanghai

    Kimmi, USA Placed in Shanghai

    I truly appreciate all the work that Teaching Nomad did upon arriving to Shanghai. Teaching Nomad helped with everything else once I landed, from paperwork to directions. Everyone at the agency is wonderful and extremely helpful and welcoming.
  • Rafael, USA  Placed in Shanghai

    Rafael, USA Placed in Shanghai

    Teaching Nomad was by far the easiest process I have gone through. I was able to get all the information I needed to continue with the job application. It was quick, efficient, friendly, and effective (I got the job).
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    Andrew, USA Placed in Shanghai

    I didn't know what professionalism was until I started working with Teaching Nomad. They have always responded to my questions and comment promptly and in a friendly manner. With Teaching Nomad I have truly found my dream contract.
  • Elsie,SA  Placed in Shanghai

    Elsie,SA Placed in Shanghai

    Teaching Nomad helped me at a time in my life when I needed to make a positive career move. They helped me find a position in which I feel challenged, motivated and where I have the opportunity to develop my skills and knowledge as a teacher.
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Teaching Nomad is your connection to teaching in Asia & The Middle East! We are a western owned and operated teacher placement agency with offices in Denver & Shanghai. We take a lot of pride in connecting teachers with great teaching opportunities.

 

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