Cost of Living in China

Cost of Living in China

With a massive population of over 1.04 billion, China is the world’s largest country in terms of people. The country emerged as one of the world’s earliest civilizations, and there are still a myriad of ways for visitors to experience this ancient culture today.

Home to one of the seven wonders of the world, the Great Wall of China, it has a variety of sites, landscapes, cities, and towns for visiting travelers, business people, and students to enjoy. With one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, students and businesses are flocking to the country to take part in education there.

China’s economy is built upon the Yuan Renminbi, the country’s unique currency. With just over 6.6 CNY in every US Dollar, the currency is the country is known to be slightly weaker than many of its western counterparts, such as the Euro, the Sterling Pound, or the Dollar.

So, what exactly should students in the country expect to spend? On average, here is what you should plan for:

One Year of Study in China

China is, surprisingly, a cost-effective location to take your studies – even in megacities like Beijing or Shanghai, where tuition fees can be slightly higher than average in the country. The fees pay for some of the best quality a student can engage with. In fact, the Chinese government has recently doubled its efforts to bring international students to the country, and offered an incredible 40% of international students a scholarship or financial aid in 2015.

On average, the cost of tuition in the country – without a scholarship – is approximately 4500 USD or 11,000 USD for programs in taught English, depending on enrollment in a public or private institution.

Overall Cost of Living in China

The location a student chooses will directly affect the cost of living in the country. Those choosing a megacity like Beijing, the most expensive city in the country, can expect their monthly fees, including housing, food, nightlife, and more, is about 800 USD. Shanghai drops slightly to 750 USD, on average.

In most other smaller Chinese cities, students could manage relatively well with a budget of merely 440 – 550 USD per month. This price tag can also include the accommodation if you live in a residence hall, which tends to be slightly more affordable than off-campus options.

China is ranked 74th in a list of the world’s most expensive countries, and its major cities of Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Beijing fall at numbers 321, 351, and 375, respectively. Students in urban and suburban settings, alike, will experience a high quality of life for a low cost of living.

For a quick list of what to expect when living China, see the chart below:


Monthly rent in normal area for two people (85m^2)


Monthly Utilities


Internet (8Mbps)



Monthly Metro Ticket


Average Taxi Fare (8km)



Basic Lunchtime Menu


Fast Food Combo Meal


Cinema Tickets


Cappuccino in the City


Beer in Neighborhood Pub