A guide to living in China

At Ignite, we understand that moving to a new country to start a new teaching job and making new friends is a big step in anyone’s teaching career so we put together a quick guide for people thinking about moving to, and teaching, in China.

Here’s what to expect:

When you are looking for English teaching jobs in China, the potential salary offered by a training centre or kindergarten is not just what appears on paper. 

Besides the salary per month printed on paper, we also offer other benefits to our teachers (such as visa services, accommodation, and support whilst living in China). It’s also important to consider the comparatively inexpensive cost of living in Beijing.

When you see the ¥28,000 (£3,230) on a contract. Remember this is excluding bonuses. Most people tend to convert it to their country’s currency. This can be very misleading. For example the RMB or CNY ¥ 28,000 equals about £3,230.

You would be able to survive on this salary in England. But in Beijing, ¥ 28,000 goes a very long way (which we’ll look at later).

Living in China

Beijing Ducks

Beijing Ducks RFC was founded in 2017 by just a handful of rugby fanatics with the aim to grow rugby within China. The Club has had considerable success with local talent and players from around the globe, now hosting two established women’s & men’s competitive teams, and a development side.

Average Salary:

It’s also interesting to note an English kindergarten teacher’s salary compared to a Chinese kindergarten teacher’s salary. A kindergarten teacher in England makes about £17,000 – £20,000 a year, depending on experience and the region. 

A Chinese teacher makes about ¥ 4,000 – ¥ 6,000 a month. Therefore, while an English teacher working with Ignite Recruitment doesn’t make the salary of a qualified teacher in England, he or she will make about four times more than their Chinese teacher counterparts.

Not only will teachers within a training centre/kindergarten earn a higher salary than the average Chinese teacher, they’ll earn a higher salary than the average Beijing citizen.

The average salary of a Beijinger is about ¥ 4,000 per month, and is considered a respectable, middle class salary. So how will the ¥ 28,000 RMB (£3,230) per month salary be spent?


Teach in China

How Far Will My Money Go:

Below is a list of prices in Chinese RMB (¥8.66 = £1; Exchange rate is fluctuating over time) 

A typical meal in a local, independent restaurant can cost anywhere from RMB ¥60 – ¥150. This depends on the types and amounts of dishes ordered. At nicer restaurants and, often, at Western-style restaurants, a typical meal will cost between RMB ¥120 – ¥200.

Utilities (water, gas, electric) usually total about RMB ¥200-¥300/month (shared with roommates)
Bus ticket: RMB ¥3 – ¥6
Subway: RMB ¥3
Can of soda: RMB ¥3.5 Bottle of soda: RMB ¥3
Taxi: RMB ¥12 (for the first 3 km) (¥3 RMB per additional km).

beijing-china-cityscape-teaching jobs

Paddy O'Sheas

Paddy O’Shea’s is Beijing’s favorite Irish sports bar We pride ourselves in doing our utmost to maintain the quality that we have built up since opening in 2007. Award winning Irish hospitality, join us for food, drink, football & more...

Shopping Essentials:

Massage (1 hour): RMB ¥80 – ¥135
Housekeeper (2 hours): RMB ¥40 – ¥80
Movie ticket: RMB ¥50 – ¥100
Jeans: RMB ¥120 – ¥400
Trainers: RMB ¥100 – ¥400
Dresses and skirts: RMB ¥80 – ¥300 Sending a letter or postcard to the folks at home: RMB ¥4 – ¥10Bottle of water: RMB ¥10 – ¥30
Shampoos, soaps, deodorants, toothpaste: RMB ¥10 – ¥30 per item

English language books (sold on the street/Taobao): RMB ¥15 – ¥25 English language books (sold in stores): RMB ¥40 – ¥180

Laundry Detergent: RMB ¥40 – ¥50
Cigarettes: RMB ¥12 – ¥20
Haircut: RMB ¥25 – ¥100
Medicine: RMB ¥5 – ¥30
Gym membership (per month): RMB ¥250 – ¥800.

shopping costs teaching in china jobs in beijing

Photo Gallery


These prices are all estimates and certainly not a definitive list of things someone living in Beijing would purchase. It’s also important to note that while most things can be purchased at a definite price (cleaning supplies, personal hygiene products, etc.), there are often items (like bicycles and clothes) that can be purchased for much cheaper or much more expensive than the prices listed here.

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