8 Habits that will Help you Save while Teaching Abroad in China

Planning on teaching abroad in China? Many people choose to make the move and teach in China for the adventure and to make an impact. But China is a very different place to live and being aware of the differences makes it easier to live comfortably and spend smarter.

What are the differences between home and China, and most importantly what’s the best way to save money and live affordably? Here is a list of 8 habits and lifehacks to prepare you for China.


1. Eat Locally

Food in China is extremely delicious and super diverse. From Beijing BBQ in the north to Cantonese dim sum in the south, most major cities have a variety of Chinese cooking styles. The good news is that although you can find western and fast food options, Chinese food tends to be much cheaper and sometimes even healthier. Eat locally and save your money!


2. Getting Around Town

Compared to western countries the public transportation in China is much cheaper. Make sure to take advantage of the newly built metro system and bike sharing programs. For about 50 cents you can take the metro and go anywhere in the city. Bike sharing such as Meituan and Hello Bike are also very cheap. Download the app, pay for a subscription and you will have access to all the shared bikes in the city for roughly 1 rmb per ride. That’s 20 cents!


3. Forget your Wallet

Oh no, I forgot my wallet! Back home, if you forget your wallet and bank cards, you probably won’t be able to do much. In China digital cash is king. Make sure to download Alipay and WeChat wallet. You can link these accounts to your Chinese bank card and get discounts while shopping, it will also track your spending so you can better understand your spending habits.


4. Be Lazy, use Delivery

Chinese Cities tend to be very big, meaning you must make use of the amazing delivery services available to save you time and money. Again, there is an app for everything. Alipay and WeChat have a delivery function. Teaching in China is a full-time job and if you have no time you can order from restaurants and get groceries delivered to your home at a specific time. Order your groceries in the morning, go to work, and voila! Have them arrive any time after work!


5. Doggy Bag! “Dabao”

Eating out is very cheap, and people take advantage of this by ordering more, especially at local Chinese restaurants. It

is normal to ask the restaurant to pack up your leftovers and take them home with you. Just say the magic words “Dabao” and you’ll be able to take the leftovers home with you. No stigma attached.


6. Ditch the Plane, Take the Train

Airports can be busy, expensive and a hassle to get to. The good news is that China has an amazing highspeed train system, consider taking the train if you are traveling between Chinese cities. They are often much cheaper than flying and are lighting fast. The highspeed train from Shanghai to Beijing is only 5 hours!


7. Buy Secondhand

Most apartments in China are fully furnished, but if you’re still looking to buy extra furniture or home appliances, make sure to check out some of the secondhand chat groups online. Many foreign workers in China move frequently and WeChat groups are a great place to buy and sell your stuff. Find a WeChat group and buy home appliances such as radiators, kettles, toasters, and vacuum cleaners cheaply. If you decide to move, you can sell them though the group again!


8. Stay connected to Friends and Family

There is no need to buy a long-distance phone plan to stay in touch with friends and family back home. Although some apps such as Facebook and Instagram are not available in China, free ways to contact loved ones do exist. Make sure to let friends and family download WeChat. Through the app you will be able to video chat and even start a conference call with your whole family to keep up to date.


And so, our list comes to an end, but we hope that for you, the reader, this is just the beginning. Teaching English abroad is an amazing adventure and an experience of a lifetime. If you are interested to learn more about making the move, we advise you speak to one of our recruitment specialists for more information on teaching in China and submit a teaching application.
Use the link below to apply!


Post by: Juraj Damjanic



Teach English, travel and work abroad with EF English First