Cost of living in China, how much does it cost a month?

Interested in studying in China? Or work in China? Before moving there, you want to know how much it costs to live in China? Expensive or cheap? How much does China spend per month?

Incidentally, I had spent 2 years in China in order to continue my master’s degree. So, I can give you an idea of ​​the cost of living in China.

You need to know that China is a big country. In China there is a system called city ​​tier system where each city is classified based on the level of progress of the city.

For example, Tier 1 cities are Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen. In these four major cities, the economy is more advanced so the cost of living is more expensive than cities in Tier 2 and Tier 3.

Yesterday I lived in Chengdu who fall into the New Tier 1 group. The cost of living in Chengdu is arguably cheaper than Beijing or Shanghai in certain aspects.

Let’s check whether the cost of living in China is cheap or expensive. How much does China spend per month?

Renmimbi (RMB) to Rupiah exchange rate is around 2,100 (Dec 20).

By the way, if you want to transfer money from Indonesia (Rp) to China (RMB) you can use Transferwise.

Rent an apartment in China

As a student you can live in a campus dorm with a fairly cheap monthly rental fee

. When I study in Chengdu, the cost dorm or a monthly dormitory on my campus RMB 800/month and the dorm is 1 room for 1 person. (I don’t have to pay because I got a scholarship).

If you don’t want to live in a dorm, you want to rent an apartment in an off-campus area, In Chengdu you can still rent a one-bedroom apartment of RMB 2,000/month in the city center or RMB 1,300/month in a slightly suburban location.

The cost of renting an apartment in Shanghai or Beijing is even more expensive, per month it can be RMB 4,000 – 7,000 depending on the location. That is the price for a unit type apartment with only 1 room.

The biggest difference in the cost of living in a big city compared to other cities is in the cost of renting an apartment.

For monthly electricity and water costs around RMB 200 – 300 depending on usage.

cost of renting an apartment in china
Apartments in Chengdu

Cost of eating in China

Food spending in China is cheap in my opinion. For eat at regular places to eat, the portion is RMB 20 – 35.

If you want to go out to eat at a good restaurant from time to time, maybe RMB 50-100 per person (Chengdu) or 150-200 (Beijing/Shanghai).

Fast food restaurants like McDonalds or KFC a set at RMB 35. Coffee is quite expensive in China.

Average coffee price RMB 30want a regular cafe or Starbucks the price is more or less the same.

If you want to drink coffee that is rather cheap, you can try the brand Lucky Coffee.

Also read: Is it expensive to live in Singapore? Let’s count!

cost of living in china eat
In Chengdu often eat hotpot

Expenditures for daily needs

In China, there are also quite a lot of foreign brand supermarkets such as Metro, Wallmart, Carrefour. There are also local brands like Hema Xianshen owned by Alibaba.

Come to think of it, I rarely go to supermarkets in China either. If you are shopping for fresh products such as eggs, vegetables and fruits, buy them at a vegetable stall near your house.

Imported products of soap, shampoo such as Pantene or Dove are also very expensive when compared to Indonesia. That’s why I often buy online through Taobao.

Actually, supermarkets from outside, for example, are also difficult to compete in China because most people shop online.

An overview of the cost of spending on daily necessities in China:

  • Rice (1kg): RMB 8
  • Eggs (12 pieces): RMB 13
  • Fresh milk (1L): RMB 13
  • Tomato (1kg): RMB 10
  • Chicken (1kg): RMB 30

Also read: Before leaving for China, do this preparation first!

Public transportation expenses in China

Public transportation in China is very good. For within the city there are buses, BRT (fast buses), and MRT/Subway.

Bus ticket prices in Chengdu are close to far RMB 2 one way. MRT prices also start from RMB 2 to RMB 6 for the furthest distance.

Taxi costs in Chengdu start from RMB 8. If in Beijing or Shanghai it is more expensive, around RMB 13 for the initial fare. You can use Didi app (similar to Grab).

In addition, also download applications in China, one of which is the application sharing bikefor example Hello Bike or Mobile so that it is easier to go anywhere in close proximity.

Subscription costs about RMB 10/month for unlimited rides.

Cost of living in China, how much does it cost a month?
Sharing bikes in China (source)

Other China Expenditure

In addition to the fees mentioned above, there are fees RMB 50 mobile or internet package. Then in China you have to use a VPN so you can open Instagram, YouTube, etc.

Per month if you use AstrillVPN or ExpressVPN it’s around RMB 80/month, if you want cheaper, just take the annual package.

What is the total cost of living in China per month for 1 person?

It depends on which city you live in and your lifestyle. The picture is usually seen in the table below.

Tier 1 – Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen Save Life Medium Life Luxury living
Apartment Rent RMB 3,500 RMB 5,000 RMB 10,000
Eat RMB 1,000 RMB 2,000 RMB 3,000
Transportation RMB 80 RMB 120 RMB 500
Recreational expenses and others RMB 200 RMB 500 RMB 2,000
Total RMB 4,780 RMB 7,620 RMB 15,500
New Tier 1 – Chengdu, Xian, Suzhou Save Life Medium Life Luxury living
Apartment Rent RMB 800 RMB 1,500 RMB 2,000
Eat RMB 500 RMB 700 RMB 1,500
Transportation RMB 80 RMB 120 RMB 500
Recreational expenses and others RMB 200 RMB 500 RMB 1,000
Total RMB 1,580 RMB 2,820 RMB 5,000


I think the cost of living in China is not too expensive, more or less similar to Indonesia.

The difference is that in big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, the cost of living is more expensive because of the price rent or rent an apartment there is more expensive.

Meanwhile, in other cities like Chengdu, Xian, Suzhou, Chongqing, the cost rent cheaper. And don’t get me wrong, a city like Chengdu, even though it’s New Tier 1, is far more advanced than Jakarta.

The cost of living in Beijing or Shanghai, just be prepared to spend RMB 5,000 – 7,000 per month if you are frugal or have enough.

I fit staying in Chengdu a month costs 1,500 – 2,000 for living expenses the most. You can compare the cost of living between other cities through this site.

So, tips let cost of living in China cheap, choose cities other than Tier 1 cities. Oh yeah, Chinese production This does not include tuition fees or language schools in China, yes.

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