There are both pros and cons of living in China and while it isn’t the most expensive country to find yourself in, things can get very costly in China if you are not careful from the beginning. On that note, here are four tips to help you live in China on a budget that don’t break the bank.
Avoid Super Expensive Cities
Just like every other country in the world, the cost of living varies quite widely in China, depending on which city or which part of the country that you are living in. If you have the option, try to avoid living in super expensive cities such as Beijing or Shanghai. Instead, Chengdu, Xia’men or Xining are much cheaper options. In fact, the Jilin City is one of the most beautiful urban areas in China, and it is neither as expensive nor as polluted as the more popular cities.
Live Intelligently in Big Cities
While living in a smaller city is advisable for saving a huge chunk of your income, it isn’t always an option. If your job makes it necessary for you to live in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong or any of the other expensive cities, the following tips should come in handy to curb the living costs as best as possible.
- Cook most of your meals yourself
- Avoid the big restaurants and stick to neighborhood establishments that are much cheaper
- Ride a bicycle or scooter because it’s cheaper and you will be less bothered by the infamous Chinese traffic
- Live in the outskirts of the city to reduce your rent by half or even more; the savings are actually worth the traveling
Get Medical Insurance
The cost of quality medical care in China is surprisingly expensive, although the government hospitals do provide cheap healthcare. However, if you want proper and top of the line healthcare for yourself and your family, you just can’t skimp on medical insurance. Compare the price of health insurance for foreigners in China across different companies and policies before signing up with anybody though, because the right advice can save you thousands of dollars in medical expenses and insurance premiums. Without the right medical insurance, the expenses will dry out your bank account in no time, especially during emergencies in big cities.
Save and Invest Your Money
This one isn’t necessarily a tip for living on a budget, but it is certainly an important piece of financial advice to consider. As the goal of budget living is to save money, be sure to transfer most of your savings abroad and preferably in your own country of origin, if that is a feasible option for you. It isn’t that Chinese banks have a bad reputation, it’s just that they are all controlled by the government strictly, and therefore, it is a better idea to get the bulk of your money outside the country.
There are even restrictions on that as well, because $50,000 is about as much as you can send outside China as a foreigner while living in the country. You can invest the rest of your savings in local stocks and real estate, but only do so sparingly and carefully, unless you really know what you are doing. Of course, you will have to open local bank accounts and keep some money in them for regular expenses and such, but don’t let it be too much.
While these should set you on the right path, a lot depends on how long you plan to stay in China. The longer you stay here, the easier it will become for you to save money, but it definitely pays to be mindful from day one.