• Salah Elbaba

Budgeting for your First Month in China

Most of the schools we deal with in China offer comprehensive packages that provide teachers with all they need. However, teachers will need some money to live off of in their first month before their first pay cheque. We have done some research to provide you with a rough idea of what you can expect to need money for in your first month in China.

Exchange Rate

1 Chinese Yuan Renminbi = 1.88 South African Rands (January 2018)

Food & Drink

​​According to budgetyourtrip.com you will need, on average, R200 per day for food and R15 for water. Beer, in case you were wondering, can cost between R12 – R30. Cooking at home is slightly cheaper, however we understand that in the first month, you probably want to find out where the best place is to buy groceries as well as where the best street food is!


We covered the various forms of public transport in China in our last blog post “Transportation Nation”. ​​Overall, public transport in China is affordable and efficient. Railway and subway trains, taxis and buses are all included in our estimate of R120 a day. Once you have tested out all modes of transport, you should pick what suits you best and consider purchasing a monthly pass, if possible.


​​After work is done for the day or on the weekends – it is natural to want to get to know your new home. This generally means: doing all the super touristy things first. So, depending on the area and how many attractions there are, we suggest an allowance of R150 per day of site-seeing for entrance fees and tickets. It would be wise to research the area you are going to and see what all the top attractions are. That way, you can easily budget your site-seeing for the first month.

It should be kept in mind that prices fluctuate according to the region you are in. For example, places such as Beijing and Shanghai are generally more expensive than Chengdu, but overall, China is a relatively inexpensive destination and a travelers dream.

We hope this will help you to comfortably adjust to life in China!


+27 21 100 3145

SINCE 2004

With hundreds of teachers placed abroad in the Middle East and China.

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