China vs. US: A 4×4 City Cost Comparison

It’s the new year, again with Spring Festival just around the corner her in China. Goals are being set, plans being made, budgets being drawn up, and dreams set in motion. Living and teaching in China is a real possibility for you and moving to China is also one of the most popular ways expats can save money. But just how much money will you save? Here is a rundown of the cost of living in major cities in China and the US.

Here in China

Here are four major cities in four distinct regions of China. Beijing in the north, Shanghai on the southeast coast, Shenzhen west of Shanghai, and EF’s newest region in the southwest, Kunming.


Beijing Shanghai Shenzhen Kunming
Lunch $8 $9 $7 $3.50
1 dozen eggs $2 $2 $2.50 $1.50
Monthly rent (900 sq ft) $1,100 $1,150 $1,000 $350
Utilities (900 sq ft) $55 $65 $80 $45
Gallon of gas $4 $4 $4 $4
Taxi fare /mile $1 $1.25 $1 $1
2 movie tickets $17 $15 $14 $15


As you can see, many things don’t really differ between Chinese cities (movie tickets, taxis, gas) but the biggest difference is in rent! When choosing a city, don’t overlook the cities whose names you’ve never heard because there are great monetary benefits to moving there instead of the bigger, more well-known cities.

Back in the US

Here are four major cities in the USA. New York and Los Angeles on both coasts, Chicago in the Midwest, and up-and-coming Seattle in the Pacific Northwest.


New York City Los Angeles Chicago Seattle
Lunch $17 $15 $15 $15
1 dozen eggs $4.50 $4 $3 $4
Monthly rent (900 sq ft) $3,000 $2,200 $1,500 $2,000
Utilities (900 sq ft) $175 $190 $150 $190
Gallon of gas $3.20 $4 $3.20 $3.60
Taxi fare /mile $4 $2.8 $5 $5
2 movie tickets $33 $30 $24 $28


Here we have just four cities from these two extremely large countries. Pick almost any American city and compare it with a Chinese city, and you’ll always find a dramatic difference in the cost of living! Even in the more expensive cities in China, saving money is still a very easy thing to do.

Interested in learning more about China and working opportunities with EF? Check out our job openings!



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Post by Kendra Miller
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