Insider tips on how to lower your cost of living in China

One of the benefits of living in China is the extremely low cost of living, especially compared to a lot of western countries. An average meal out can cost anywhere between ¥20-¥40 RMB ($3-$6 USD); a 30-minute taxi might run you about ¥70 RMB ($10 USD). But let’s be honest, what might seem like spending a little here and there can add up quick. You’re out here, living your best life until that casual bank account check; and then it’s like a fatal punch to the gut. So here are a few insider tips on how to stop yourself from suffering that rough reality check.


1. Take The bus

It’s easy and convenient to own an e-bike in China for quick transportation; but for places that are a little too far for comfort, taking the bus is a super cheap alternative. A bus ride anywhere will range between ¥1 and ¥3 (14¢-41¢), whereas a taxi could easily be 10x this, and then some if you’re traveling during rush hour. It’s the perfect way to spend all that spare change without putting a dent in your bank account.


2. Shop Local Markets

China is notorious for being a bargain. Feel free to barter with sellers at any of the local markets for clothes, food, electronics, etc. Chances are that venders will try to upcharge whoever they perceive to be naïve tourists. Take advantage of the culture and bargain your way to a decent price.

Lower your cost of living by visiting a local market


3. Cook at home

Speaking of buying food, although eating out in China is cheap, doing it all the time can rack up quite the bill. Spend ¥150 (about $20) a week at your local market on some noodles rice, snacks, meat, fruits and vegetables. You’ll eat healthier, spend way less money, and have food at home for when you get the midnight munchies.


4. Crack The Window

Something you’ll learn living in China is that Chinese people are obsessed with fresh air. The age-old belief that outdoor air has a magic; healing quality will likely never die. Year round, you’ll see open windows; both in the dead of summer and the cold of winter. You can also find wet laundry billowing in the wind, and scented plumes of smoke coming off the stovetop. You’ll even find that a lot of apartment balconies serve as the laundry/ kitchen area. During summer, your electric bill can skyrocket before your eyes; you can save a ton of money by embracing the culture and letting the breeze flow through your house.


5. TaoBao

Ever dreamed of having anything and everything delivered right to your doorstep? TaoBao is the answer to your prayers. Need a new phone? TaoBao. Don’t feel like grocery shopping? TaoBao. Fancy some new clothes? TaoBao. Want to treat yourself to something completely nonsensical? TaoBao. I like to think of TaoBao as the eBay of the east; fast, cheap, and convenient. It doesn’t get any easier than that.


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Post by: Arianna Bennett

Arianna is a self-proclaimed travel photographer and adventurer. After her passion for travel took off in 2018, she made the decision to create a home base in Taizhou, Zheijiang, China. She now focuses on integrating into the true Chinese culture and experiencing the country as a local. You can read more of Arianna’s adventures on her blog, We Travel.