Living and Working in China

Living and Working in China

The People's Republic of China has a huge land mass, almost the same size as the United States of America with a huge population that is as diverse as its terrain. China is an ancient civilisation, over 5000 years old full of tradition and with a deep culture that is fascinating to experience. Having burst onto the international scene due to reforms initiated by Deng Xiaoping, China is now one of the leading nations in the world, with its large, industrious people and abundant natural resources.

China is a huge country with cheap high speed rail links and some beautiful places to see. From the terra cotta warriors to the beaches of Yalong Bay to the Longtan valley, China is bursting with beauty that most westerners never get to see. Check out CNN's list HERE

China is now and has always been a country of wide variation. Major cities such as Bejing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Suzhou, and Chengdu are quite modern and wealthy with world class restaurants, abundant transportation options and modern amenities with British and American International schools in all the cities. However, about 50% of Chinese still live in rural areas. Generally, the southern and eastern coastal regions are more developed and wealthy whereas the far west and north are much less modernised.

China is in the midst of vast modernisation, starting in the ‘free trade’ regions and larger cities and moving out. The Chinese people are very proud of what they have accomplished in such a short space of time, and yet are friendly and welcoming to visitors. China has emerged as a world powerhouse, and all signs point to a bright future for this industrious and long term orientated country. It is the lucky teacher who will have the ability to experience this country first hand.


Being such a large land mass, China has different climates from the cold north such as Harbin to the mid-temperate Beijing, to the warmer coastal cities of Qingdao, Xi’an and Jinan and even a subtropical region in the south with Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Chengdu.


China is a fascinating country in which to live and work, especially because the culture is so rich. The Chinese have deep respect for education and attainment and value many things including hard work, family and community.

As opposed to western cultures which are individualistic, China is a collectivist society so you will find that people are very willing to help out friends, neighbours and strangers alike. Westerners usually find that the Chinese people are curious, blunt, fun-loving, proud and loyal.

Food is an important aspect of Chinese culture and during holidays special food and drink is always on hand. Chinese New Year is probably the biggest holiday, and it takes place in late January/early February. You will see fireworks and firecrackers, lanterns, ‘red envelope’ gifts being given to children, families and friends visiting and eating together and much more. Dragon Boat Day, Qingming, Mid-Autumn Day and National Day are other holidays you will enjoy.

Culturally, China is extremely diverse with 56 recognised ethnic groups. The Han comprise over 90% of the population and the other 55 groups enjoy affirmative action for university admission and exemption from the one-child policy. Many religions co-exist in China including Confucianism, Taoism, Islam, Christianity and more.  

Major Cities

It usually surprised foreigners but China has some of the largest cities you have probably never heard of. Beijing and Shanghai are 

the most famous but there are more than 35 cities in China that have a higher population than Chicago.  Ever heard of Wuhan? It’s 

bigger than London. Qingdao? It’s got twice the population of Melbourne. So when you think of China, remember it’s much more than just Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai. Economically, it has the second largest GDP in the world and many think it will overtake the US in the top spot quite soon. And all of this growth has happened since 1980. Check out this graph. It’s economy is big and getting bigger.

Read more about specific cities with our Edvectus Educator China Guide HERE

Taxes and Cost of Living

Taxes in China are low and salaries at FL are quoted after tax.  The salary in your own currency can be calculated HERE

The cost of living in China is very low compared to western countries. Below are some examples of typical things you might buy and what they cost in a major city like Beijing. The cost of living in other cities can be cheaper by up to 40%.


Cost in Beijing. will be lower in smaller cities

in USD

1 Chicken breast (uncooked)



Big Mac and Fries

RMB 35


Bottle of Chinese Beer



Large bottle of spring water (1.5L)



1 dozen eggs

RMB 10


1 bottle of diet cola



Domestic help (cleaner) per hour

RMB 30/hr


Subway/Metro ticket



City bus ride

RMB 0.4 – 2

$.06 to $0.30

Train  from Shanghai to Nanjing (2 hr journey, 2nd class)

RM 87


Internet (monthly)

RMB 160


Electricity (monthly)

RMB 150


Gas (monthly)

RMB 20


Water (monthly)

RMB 25



Top Attractions in China

China is vast and there is so much to see rooted in the past and the present. Below are our top 10 things to see... but we could easily have listed 100!

  1. Great Wall of China.  The longest wall in the world that winds its way around rugged mountains, the Great Wall deserves its place in the ‘seven wonders of the world’ and as a Unesco World Heritage site. No trip to China is complete without seeing it at least once.
  2. Terra Cotta Warriors in Xi’an.  Buried underground for 2000 years, and made in 200BC, the hundreds of life sized warriors, their horses and chariots, each one different, are all made from clay to represent the army that united a large part of China. Only a small fraction of the army has been uncovered- more lies underground still.
  3. The Forbidden City. In Beijing sits a palace complex that has a mind boggling 8000 rooms. Until 1911 regular people were unable to enter and now it is open to the public as a very popular cultural and historical site.
  4. Li River in Guilin. The subject of many artistic endeavours, it is an area of outstanding natural beauty where fantastical mountains lie in the background.
  5. Yellow Mountains. Near to Shanghai, the Yellow Mountains boast five wonders; sun rises, seas of clouds, oddly-shaped rocks, twisted pine trees, and hot springs.
  6. Giant Pandas in Chengdu. Chengdu is their ‘hometown’ and these cuddly looking bears are beloved by the Chinese. For good reason. They are adorable.
  7. The Bund in Shanghai. A fabulous riverfront that mixes modern and Victorian architecture. You can take boat rides to get best view.
  8. Hong Kong. Victoria harbour, Stanley Park and much more await you in Hong Kong. With strong British roots, it’s a vibrant place where ‘East meets West’ 24 hrs a day.
  9. Hongcun Ancient Village. Set against beautiful mountains this 800 year old village has winding streets and a tranquil vibe.
  10. Yalong Bay. If you want a beach vacation, this is it. Yalong Bay has a 7.5km crescent shaped beach stacked with luxury resorts, restaurants and more.