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Cost of Living in China: Average Living Expenses
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For foreign students, cost of living in China is largely depend on their lifestyle, although it is easy to minimize day-to-day costs depending on how much luxury a person wants to live in and how far they will go to re-create the way they lived at home. For example, if you want to buy something imported, Western-style brands and goods, the price will be significantly more expensive – cereal in particular is exorbitant. Also, things are not typically Chinese such as dairy and wine, the price is usually higher than buying them back at your home. On the other hand, local products and services are widely available and incredibly affordable. Fresh produce and food stuffs, clothing, entertainment and domestically manufactured electronics are all very reasonably priced in China.

As in most destinations, the cost of living in the larger, urban centers will far exceed that of the small, rural villages. Beijing and Shanghai, in particular, claim cost of livings on par with major European capitals.

Below is a cost of living in China chart based on Beijing, 2014, you can take it as an example.

  • Cost of living in China chart 2014 (based on Beijing)

(Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider and the list below shows average prices)

Accommodation (monthly rent from unfurnished to furnished)
Single room on campus RMB 3,000
Double room on campus RMB 1,500
Furnished 2 bedroom apartment RMB 8,000
Unfurnished 2 bedroom apartment RMB 6,500
Food and Drink
Milk (1 liter) RMB 15
Cheese (500g) RMB 107
Dozen Eggs RMB 15
White Bread RMB 15
Rice (1kg) RMB 7
1 packet of cigarettes (Marlboro) RMB 15
Public Transportation
City center bus/Subway fare RMB 2
Taxi rate per km RMB 3
Eating Out
Big Mac Meal RMB 25
Coca Cola (330ml) RMB 3.50
Cappuccino RMB 30
Bottle of beer RMB 35
Three course meal at a mid-range restaurant RMB 200


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