How much does it cost to live in China?

If your contract includes teacher housing, you’ll only need to spend money on things like food, transport and social activities. 

So if you eat like the locals do (i.e. street food and basic restaurants), take public transport, and don’t go too crazy socializing on the weekend, you’ll have plenty of money left over.

On the flipside, if you constantly eat out at Western restaurants, buy Western clothes, and refuse to take public transport, your money could slip through your fingers quickly.

Check out the tables below for a guide on the cost of everyday things in China. 

Note that the prices quoted are for a typical mid-sized Chinese city. Prices can differ greatly between cities.

Need to convert the Chinese price into your own currency? Scroll to the currency converter widget at the bottom of this page.


Item Chinese price (¥)
Salt (500g) 2
Pepper (30g) 18
Coffee (50g) 26
Water (1.5L) 3
Water (small bottle) 2
Cooking oil (small bottle) 18
Broccoli (500g) 6
Cabbage (500g) 5
Peppers (500g) 8
Fruit (500g) 9+ depending on type 
Rice (10kg sack) 58
Bread 7
Pasta (500g) 10
Pork (500g) 16
Cooking oil (5L bottle) 90
Soft drink (1.5L) 7
Soft drink (can) 3
Frozen dumplings (packet) 30
Chocolate bar 12
Ice cream stick (e.g. Magnum) 11
Crisps (large packet) 6
Biscuits (400g) 9
Laundry detergent (2kg bottle)  40
Toilet paper rolls (bulk pack) 32


Item Chinese price (¥)
Toothpaste 10-30 depending on type 
Soap 5
Shampoo 20-40 depending on brand 
Deodorant 78
Dental floss 21
Female sanitary  9

Eating out

Item Chinese price (¥)
Steamed bun 3-4 depending on filling 
Noodles with meat and vegetables  15
Fried rice 15
Noodles (street food) 10
Bowl of dumplings 15
McDonalds, KFC 18 per burger, RMB 22+ for a meal 
Large pizza 80-100

Entertainment and alcohol

Item Chinese price (¥)
Cinema ticket 33
Beer (small bottle) 5-10 depending on brand 
Imported spirits (e.g. whiskey)  188
Chinese wine (300ml) 23


Item Chinese price (¥)
Taxi (per km) 3-4
Bus (per trip) 1-2
Subway (per trip)  5



So there you have it - the cost of living in China for everyday things.

Now find out the typical English teacher salary in China.