Cost of Living in Beijing- What To Expect Living On $2000 As An Expat In China




  • Monthly budget in Beijing for One-Person = $2,000 <skip to budget details>.
  • Because of rent, Beijing is consider "most unaffordable city in the world"
  • However, outside of rent, Beijing is an affordable city built for convenience
  • Life in Beijing is, in one word, bustling. Beijing’s streets are seldom empty and life never stops

If you're reading this, you're probably considering a change of scenery. Maybe you're fascinated by Asian cultures. Maybe you're just curious. Maybe you have a craving for Chinese food that just won't let up. Regardless, if you're considering a move to China, but you are not familiar with the cost of living in Beijing, this is the article for you.

This post may contain affiliate links. I may get a commission if you purchase something using my link. Please note, there is NO ADDITIONAL COST to you. For more information, please see my disclosure.

expat couple enjoying the affordable cost of living in Beijing China

This collaboration is with Katerina who has had the privilege of calling Beijing, China home for the last 13 years. 

I moved here in 2007 from my native Macedonia on a foreign language scholarship and never looked back. Throughout my stay, I have seen Beijing grow and change in many exciting and unexpected ways. In turn, this city has caused me to grow and change similarly. Even though I started as a student, Beijing has allowed me to experience life as a backpacker, an office worker, an entrepreneur, and finally, a digital nomad.

So, hold on to your chopsticks, because I'm going to share with you all the reasons why Beijing is great, explain expat life in the capital city, and detail what this lifestyle costs in Beijing.

At the time of this writing, the exchange rate is 1 US Dollar = 6.47 Chinese Yuan (CNY), and 1 CNY converts to .13 Euros.

 EDITOR'S NOTE : Money in China- Chinese currency can sometimes be confusing. References to both Yuan (CNY) and Renminbi (RMB) make it seem like China has two currencies (ignore Hong Kong (HKD) and Taiwan (TWD) for this post to avoid confusion).

Renminbi is the official name of the currency, while Yuans are the denomination of money. Think of it as Renminbi is the name of Chinese money, which comprises up 100 yuan bills, 50 yuan bills, 20 yuan bills, and so on.

Colloquially, Chinese people use both terms interchangeably. Merchants sometimes will even refer to prices as kuai, which in conversation is kind of like saying "bucks."

What Is The Cost Of Living In Beijing?

$2000- Cost of Living in BEIJING Details [Click to Expand]

Total Monthly Expense$1991
Rent- Furnished ONE-bedroom apartment expat district1000
High Speed Internet8
Maid Service 4 Hours per Week93
Cell Phone- 12 GB Internet Per Month9
Total Housing Expense1176
Home Cooked Meals 2 times per week28
Budget Meal- Chinese Food 11 time per Week239
Mid-Priced Restaurant 1 time per Week72
Total Food Expense338
Hotpot with Friends 1 time per Week65
Budget Night Out- 2 times per Week174
Gym Membership with Classes52
Total Entertainment290
Bus 10 times per Week13
Subway 2 Times per Week18
Didi/Taxi 1 time per Week22
Total Transportation Expense52
Travel Health Insurance50
Health Care Expense50
60 minute massage 1 time per Month27
Personal Care (Shampoo, etc.) & Household Items (Soap, etc.)20
Nail Service 1 time per Month38
Total Personal Care and Misc Expense85
Exchange Rate to $1 USD to Yuan (CNY)6.47

 EDITOR'S NOTE : Monthly Budget For A Single Person- All costs in the budget spreadsheet above are for one-person living in Beijing. For consistency, the apartment rent included in the budget spreadsheet above is for a ONE-bedroom apartment vs. Katerina's TWO-bedroom apartment she shares with her husband.

How do costs in Beijing compare to the United States?

China has a reputation for being cheap, which in rural towns or smaller Chinese cities, the country can be. However, Beijing is not one of those "smaller" cities. Monthly costs in this city are 2X other Asian capitals (Taipei, Taiwan, Manila, Philippines, or Bangkok, Thailand).

Don't let that statement scare you off from living in Beijing; there are still  geoarbitrage opportunities for expats, digital nomads, and retirees looking to move to the capital city. 

Let's add some context to the $2,000. Look at the cost of living comparison below of a medium-cost US city (Portland) to one of the most expensive cities in China (Beijing).

These are the top 4 essential expenses in the US: housing, food, transportation, and healthcare. These 4 expenses make up 68% of the average costs in a major city.

Major Expenses

















Total Average Per Month



Save 65% on Major Monthly Expenses

Your money can still go far in Beijing once you get past the cost of apartments. Chinese food, markets, transportation, and personal services are still very affordable with expat money.

Even in one of the most expensive cities in China, an expat living in Beijing can save over $10,000 per year.

Let's look at the standard of living $2000 per month buys you in Beijing.

What Kind of Lifestyle Can I Afford On $2000 Per Month?

Ghost Street (Gui Jie), with six football fields of restaurants open 24/7, is the ultimate late-night snack destination.

Why Is Beijing An Expensive City?

The cost of living in Beijing wouldn't be as high if it weren't for rent. House prices in Beijing have skyrocketed since the Olympics in 2008. Buying a house in Beijing is little more than a dream for many citizens. As a result, more people have resorted to renting. It is important to note that the cost of rent in first-tier cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, & Shenzhen) goes up every year. Prepare for housing expense to be your largest cost.

 EDITOR'S NOTE : Real Estate in Beijing- Beijing recently was awarded the honor of the most unaffordable city in the world for housing. Housing prices in Chinese cities have increased by close to 40% in the last 5-years. Expats thinking about cashing in on this housing boom for additional income should know that the government has strict ownership laws prohibiting foreigners from owning rental property. Sorry expats, you will need to earn extra spending money elsewhere.

Which Beijing District Is Best For Expats?

Real estate prices vary depending on where in town you want to live. Beijing is separated into six rings, almost like a tree. Rent becomes cheaper the further away you get from the city center (CBD or Central Business District). Most of the expat community (including myself) lives within the eastern second and third rings.

Dongzhimen District For Expats

I live in Dongzhimen, the border area that connects the CBD to the more traditional hutongs (residential alley districts). You will find most of the Embassies and consulates located in this district. There are quite a few shopping malls and parks here and a famous Food Street called Gui Jie, famous for spicy food.

 INSIDER TIP : Dongzhimen is incredibly convenient for expats working as independent English teachers who need easy access to different districts in Beijing to meet students for classes.

Three subway lines passing through Dongzhimen: Line 2, Line 13, and the Airport Express. There is also a bus station terminal nearby. Dongzhimen is one of Beijing's many transportation hubs, which means that you can easily reach anywhere else in the city.

Living in Dongzhimen offers plenty of opportunities to socialize. Most of daily life's necessities are within walking distance or about 10 minutes away by cab. I've been living in Dongzhimen since I finished up my university days, and I recommend this area to anyone who cherishes convenience and having a healthy social life.

How Much Is Apartment Rent In Beijing?

Housing Costs


My husband and I currently rent a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. Our current rent is about 9000 RMB (about $1400) each month. On the upside, most of the apartments for rent come fully furnished. Usually, there is an air conditioning unit in each bedroom. A public heating system deals with the winter cold. Heat, along with the property management costs, is paid for by the landlord.

Our rent does not include other utilities, but these are inexpensive bills. We pay about 300 RMB (approx. $50) each month for electricity, 100 RMB (approx. $15) for water per month, and about 100 RMB a year for gas.

 EDITOR'S NOTE : "Fully-Furnished" Doesn't Mean Move-In Ready- Agents and websites advertise apartments in Beijing as "fully furnished." Don't assume this description means you will be walking into an Airbnb-style apartment. Furnished usually means major furniture (bed, couch, chairs, etc.) and major appliances (refrigerator, stove, etc.).

You may still need to supply your bedding, small appliances (kettle, toaster, coffee maker), and potentially cooking and eating supplies (pots, pans, plates, etc.). The good news is this is Beijing; those items don't cost much money. Just be prepared for some additional costs and go shopping your first couple of days after moving.

Example of an expat apartment with two-bedrooms in Beijing

Furniture is included in our rent

If you are looking to save money on rent, you can downsize to one-bedroom apartments. But know that rent for a one-bedroom or even studio apartments in Dongzhimen is never falls below 7000 CNY /1000 USD per month

If you are looking to trim your budget further, many expats rent a house in the “hutongs” (the allies) around Gulou (still in Dongcheng area, not far from where I live) which provides an “authentic” life in China experience. However, older hutong houses do not come with heating.  Renting a hutong house can be slightly cheaper (about 6000 CNY / 900 USD) depending on the size and type of amenities (Chinese or modern).

Most foreigners find housing through "The Beijinger," a popular website among the expat community (you may need a VPN to access the site). Agents frequently post ads and share their Wechat contact information there. If you already know which area you would like to live in, you can easily connect with an agent and find an apartment within a week.

Another option I've rented through and recommend is "Home Link" (链家 in Chinese). They offer suitable apartments at market price.

As a rule of thumb, do your research before you sign anything and ask to meet the landlord when possible.

Key Things To Know About Real Estate In Beijing

  • Apartment Deposits- Renting apartments month by month isn't an option here. Most leases last a full year. Expats moving to Beijing need to have money saved to pay for rent upfront. For a year-long lease, landlords expect you to pay every three months' rent in advance. You'll also need to provide a one-month rent deposit on top of that.
  • Do Your Research- Check more housing adds on The Beijinger and meet more agents. Agents often rent out the same flats and some agents might give you a discount.
  • Lease Contracts- Contracts are available in English. Attorneys aren’t necessary to rent an apartment unless there is some serious dispute. China is not a litigious society. It is not common to rely on attorneys and lawyers for much.

 INSIDER TIP : WeChat Mobile App- This dynamic application can be used to navigate almost every aspect of life in China. It’s used for work communication, financial transactions, utility payments, phone, other bill payments, as well as last-minute top-ups. You can also use it to get a taxi, book train or plane tickets, order food, get groceries, book a hotel, buy movie or show tickets, or even rent an apartment.

What is an Estimated Food Budget For Beijing?

From street stalls to Michelin star restaurants, Beijing can fit any food budget.

Food Costs


Beijing is a multicultural city with a lot of food options. Not only do you have a chance to try famous world cuisines, but there are also eight famous Chinese regional cuisines: Anhui, Cantonese, Fujian, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shandong, Sichuan, and Zhejiang.

The sheer amount of time that Beijingers spend working has profoundly impacted the city's food culture. Most people have little time to cook, so a cornucopia of restaurants to eat out at or order in from has grown to meet the demand.

With the rapid development of food delivery platforms, people can now order from anywhere in town and have it at the door within an hour. Compared to other costs of living in Beijing, delivery costs are so cheap (about 5-7 RMB/$1), you could do this every day of the week if you wanted to.

Meituan & Eleme, food delivery platforms

I'm no exception. Entrepreneurship is busy work, so ordering in is a lifesaver for me. Often, I find myself ordering twice a day for my only two meals, usually breakfast and lunch. In recent years I've been trying to follow a low carb and healthy diet. Healthy meals are not hard to find, though restaurants catering to dietary restrictions are pricier than ordering Chinese food.

Even though Chinese food is delicious, not all expats like it. Those who aren't keen on Chinese food either have to spend time cooking or order western food. Doing this can be a significant blow to your food budget, especially if you're ordering more than you're cooking.

On average, I try to cook about two times a week; the rest I order in or eat out. During warmer months, I usually go out to eat two days or more each week.

 INSIDER TIP : In the mood to cook but don't have time to run to the market? Don't worry. Delivery companies can pick up your groceries too!

People from my part of the world aren't famous for their adventurous palates. China has challenged mine. During my stay in China, I've tried to incorporate more variety in my diet. Every time I eat out, I always try to go for different cuisine. Whether it is Mexican, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian, or Thai, being here turned out to be a blessing for me. During the lengthy lockdown, I was cooking my favorite international dishes when we couldn't eat out.

My fav Mexican restaurant is El Barrio. Foreign cuisines are mostly found only in mid-range restaurants.

When it comes to food costs, Beijing has to offer something for every budget.

Dining on Little Money

Naturally, the cheapest thing to eat in Beijing is Chinese food. Ordering in or eating out, breakfast might come to 20 RMB (about $3), while lunch and dinner could fall between 30 – 120 RMB ($5-$19). Another thing about China is that most meals are shared. As a rule of thumb, people order at least 2-3 more dishes than the total number of people at the table. The price will vary based on the number of people at your table.

Dining with Some Money

Beijing has nearly every world cuisine represented. Foreign restaurants are typically priced mid-range. Expect to pay anywhere from 60-150 RMB ($10-$23) per dish and about 50 RMB ($8) for a glass of wine or Chinese beer. Japanese restaurants tend to run a bit more expensive compared to other foreign restaurants.

Dining with a LOT of money

Beijing is one of the biggest cities in the world. Once you escape the mid-price restaurant range, meal prices vary widely between high-end restaurants. There are almost 30 Michelin Starred Restaurants in town, two of which have 3-stars. Buffet breakfast or dinner at a five-star hotel usually starts at about 300 RMB/person ($50). Lunch or dinner at one of these places can run anywhere between 500 -1200 RMB ($77 - $200)

Dumplings $1- Fried, steamed, or boiled, these stuffed snacks can be found all over the city.

Chinese Food $5 -$19- Don't be shy. Dig in. Meals in China are meant to be shared by the entire table. 

Hotpot $15- Shared among friends after work or on the weekend. Hotpot is as much a social activity and it is a meal. 

How Much Money Do You Spend For Entertainment In Beijing?

In a city of 21 million people, you will always find something to do. The city remains a hive of activity even late at night.

Entertainment and Sports


Workday or weekend, Beijing offers a wide selection of entertainment options. Depending on my free time, I try to go out at least two-three times a week. 

Weekends offer more choices for social activities. Going for hikes outside of town with friends, visiting scenic spots and galleries, having a picnic in Chaoyang park, or trying to find your way out of an escape room are frequent options. Many of these places do not cost money. Those that require tickets are usually cheap, ranging from 5-50 RMB ($0.75 - $7.50).

My average cost for entertainment is between 500 – 2000 RMB ($77-$308) /month since my interests vary from month to month.

  • Hotpot $15-  On a busy workday, we might meet friends for hotpot after work. These restaurants usually accommodate 2-10 people per table, making it a popular social activity among the expats. Even with enough food for ten people, prices are roughly 100 RMB ($15/person).
  • Gym Membership $51 per month-  Despite being busy during workdays, I still set aside time for fitness. I typically exercise before work, usually at 7 am when the gym opens. Others go after work, but some even go at noon, during their lengthy 1–2-hour lunch break. I usually pay about 4000 RMB ($615)/year for my gym membership. Typically, gym membership includes access to various activities, such as swimming, yoga, Pilates, Zumba, dance classes, and spinning.
  • Pub Night with Friends $26- Other hangouts we like during the week are the many craft beer breweries that have sprung up in recent years. Aside from food and unique local flavored beer varieties, some also host weekly trivia and even local band performances. Dinner and drinks at a pub can come up to about 100-250 RMB ($15 - $37) per person.
  • Concerts $ varies- Occasionally foreign bands will tour China. Bigger venues, usually far from Beijing's city center, host the large concerts.

 INSIDER TIP : Real Cost of Monthly Memberships- Physical activities such as sports or dancing usually don't have an hourly rate option in China. If they do, it's usually expensive. Instead, clubs offer a membership card. Fees depend on the duration of the membership and the venue location.

Be careful trying to save money on memberships (gyms, sports clubs, dance classes) in Beijing. The cheaper something is, the more crowded it will be. Chances are you will find it challenging to use jam-packed facilities.

Beijing offers a lot more. There are scenic spots located in and outside the city, many with cultural and historical significance. These include three different parts of the Great Wall (Ba Da Ling, Mu Tian Yu, Si Ma Tai), The Summer Palace, Gulou, and the Houhai and Beihai area. Also on the list are The Olympic Park, Chaoyang Park, temples such as Di Tan, Ri Tan, & Tian Tan; museums (like the Watermelon Museum), the 798 Art galleries, and many notable places hidden among the hutongs.

On the city's periphery, there are a few amusement parks. Universal Studios Beijing is currently being built and is slated to open in May of 2021.

An hour of target practice can run roughly 120 CNY/$19

Other casual activities include dance classes, karaoke (KTV), massage, hot springs, go-karting, ice skating, and horseback riding. Prices for these activities generally fall in the 100 – 200+ RMB ($15-$30) range. Most of these places sell membership cards that often offer discounts based on frequency.

Millionaire Teachers In China- Did you know some foreign teachers in Beijing SAVE $50,000 A YEAR teaching at international schools? Sign up below for updates on our next post, where we interview international primary school teachers with salaries and benefits over $90,000.

What Does Transportation Cost?

Subways and buses in Beijing are comically cheap compared to the West



The best thing about living in Beijing is that transportation costs are super cheap. You won't need a car or a motorbike when you can ride a bike or use Beijing's convenient and economical public transportation system.

  • Bus 0.15 cents-  Bus tickets cost 1- 2 RMB ($0.15-$0.30).
  • Metro 0.50 cents-  Subway ticket fare depends on the subway line but generally ranges from 3-8 RMB ($0.45-$1.23).
  • Taxi or Uber $3- I usually take a taxi or use Didi (the Chinese answer to Uber) to get around town. Fares start at 15 RMB ($2.31) /3km. Prices can be affected by what kind of car you get, the time of the day, and traffic. Expect to pay about 20-30 ($3-$4.60) RMB for a 5 km journey.
  • Walking Free- Despite being a giant city, Beijing is very walkable. There are sidewalks, bike lanes, and wide roads.

Shared Bikes Ofo

Car rental prices can be about 220 to 700 RMB ($34 - $107) / per day for a standard car. Buying a car is an option but between purchasing the car, waiting for a license plate, and all the hassle compared to using public transport, it simply isn't worth it. Owning a motorbike or electric scooter is more feasible, and those start at about 3000 RMB ($462).

 INSIDER TIP :   Commuting during rush hours always risks getting stuck in a heavy traffic jam. To avoid rush hour, I'll bike home instead of getting a cab. Biking is another excellent way to get around Beijing. In recent years shared bicycles have become a popular transport option. I've had my bike since I first arrived in China. That hasn't stopped me from using shared bikes when the need arises. With pricing as low as 1.5 RMB ($0.23) per 15-minute ride, shared bikes are a great option.

International Flights

For traveling abroad, the city has two international airports Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK) and Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX).

Airport Pick Up-  Avoid the stress and hassle of finding a taxi in a strange country. Get a safe airport pickup with no hidden costs.

High Speed Rails

Beijing is also a major hub for China's famous high speed rail system. The ticket price to ride the World's Fastest Passenger Train, a 350 km/h (217 mph) is comparable to flying.

Other Miscellaneous Costs

Essential Costs

Other living costs in Beijing are small fractions compared to the cost of the rent.

  • Cell Phone Plans $9-  There are three mobile service providers in China: China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom. I use China Unicom, and a cell phone plan with 12 GB of data for internet access costs about 59 RMB ($9)/month.
  • Men's Haircuts $5, Women's $39-  Another typical expense is a visit to the barbershop or hair salon. Men's haircuts can cost as low as 30 RMB ($4.70). For women, it's a bit more than that. Basic level hairstylists usually cost about 150 RMB ($23). It costs RMB 250 – 350 ($38.50- $54) for a more experienced one.
  • Memberships- Salons often offer membership cards as well. If you find one you like, it may be worth the purchase so you can enjoy a discount.

What are "affordable luxuries" For Expats in Beijing?

Here are some indulgences that don't cost much money in Beijing

  • Maid Service $6 per hour-  The most common one is a cleaning maid. Most of the expats in Beijing hire maids to clean their homes once or twice a week. It usually costs about RMB 35-40 ($5.40- $6.20) /hour. Our maid has been cleaning for us for about seven years, and we pay her by the month. For a weekly visit of 3 – 4 hours, we pay 500 RMB ($77) /month. The Mandarin Chinese word for maid is "ayi," which means "auntie." For a little more money, you can hire an auntie who can also cook for you.
  • 60 minute Massage $23- Massage is also an affordable luxury in China. They typically cost 150 -200 RMB ($23-$31) /hour. There are even home massage services if you are too busy to go to the spa.
  • Chinese Medicine $55- If you visit a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) doctor and get a massage to treat medical conditions, it usually costs about 350 – 450 RMB ($54-$70) per visit. 
  • Laundry Service (varies)- Residents do not consider laundry a luxury here. Having someone wash and fold your dirty clothes is a standard service where you sometimes even haggle over the price.
  • Manicures $15- My favorite luxury in Beijing is the manicure/pedicure services and gel nail polish treatments. You can find nail salons everywhere in town for about 150 – 400 RMB ($15-$61). The price depends on the shop's location and which technique they use for gel nails. When I am too busy, I have a lady that comes to my home to do my nails. I will REALLY miss this luxury when I leave China.

 INSIDER TIP :  Chatty Chinese Taxi Drivers- As mentioned before, the Chinese answer to Uber, Didi is relatively cheap. Sometimes I like to use Didi's luxury car service since they only cost about 30 % more than their regular cars. Ordinary taxi drivers are usually bored with their job can get pretty chatty.

When they see a foreigner, they like to ask the same questions. These include such great hits as "Where are you from?", "Do you like China? " and "Do you like Chinese food?"

Having been here for 13 years, I've grown weary of repetitive conversation. To avoid being rude and to buy some additional quiet time, I sometimes choose to use professional drivers. They get trained not to chat with customers!

Important Information About Moving To China



 The government does not provide Universal Healthcare in China, but most international health insurance providers are accepted. Unless you develop a serious health condition, medical costs in China are low compared to what you'd pay in the US.

I have self-finance my medical care for several years in China. My doctor visits are relatively cheap.

  • At Chinese hospitals, you pay about 20-30 RMB ($3-$4.70) to get a number.
  • Then you pay for each medical examination (100 -300 RMB / $15-$46 depending on the test) as well as any medication.
  • Chinese-made medicine is cheaper (RMB 10-50/ $1.50-$7.75) compared to Western countries (RMB 50-200/ $7.75-$31).

 EDITOR'S NOTE : Medical insurance for Foreigners- While the cost of routine medical care is less than the United States, accidents and serious medical conditions can and do occur. The cost of one night in a Beijing private hospital costs 4,000 - 6,000 CNY /  $600 - $930. 

Regardless if you are looking to live in Beijing or another Chinese city, if you are a US citizen, you need coverage from unforeseen medical expenses. 

My travel medical insurance costs $50 per month and gives me access to doctors and hospitals anywhere in the world outside of the US.

Will My Home Country Health Insurance Cover Me?

Most likely no. Most health insurance will not cover you for any injuries sustained outside your home country. To get protection while living abroad, there are two options:

  • Travel Health Insurance- This will cover you for unexpected medical issues while overseas. However, the coverage requires you to maintain insurance in the United States or your respective home country. I pay roughly $50 per month for complete coverage with no deductible.
  • Expat Medical Insurance- If you retire abroad, expat health insurance is a more complete option. Expat Medical Insurance is the "normal" insurance you are familiar with from home. Coverage is built for people who live in a country versus traveling. While more expensive than Travel Medical Insurance, premiums are still cheaper than in the US. 

Will I Have To Pay Taxes Living In China?

If you are a 'China-domiciled individuals" or have been in China for 183 days or more in a tax year, you can be considered a tax resident for Individual Income Tax (IIT) purposes. 

Residents are generally subject to IIT on their worldwide income. 

While China has a double taxation treaty with the US, their tax laws are notoriously complicated. To understand how to minimize your expat tax liability, speak with a tax accountant for details. 

What Is Not Included In The Monthly Budget?

Expat Taxes

If you stay longer than 183 days, many countries will consider you a tax resident. Being an expat may help you save money on your taxes. Talk to a tax professional to see how tax residency applies to you. I partnered with a firm specializing in expat taxes to secure a special deal for Nomadic FIRE readers.

Use the promotion code "Nomadic25Consultation" for $25 off a tax consultation to get you started. 

Even better, use their experts to prepare your tax return, and the entire consultation is FREE.

Moving Costs

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I have partnered with 10,000+ pre-screened global moving companies to save you time and money. Fill out our 60-second form and get 5 quotes from accredited moving companies competing for your business. Compare and save by clicking the button below.

What Are The Visa Requirements For China?

The procedures, requirements, and costs for coming to China will never be the same after the pandemic. As of the publish date of this article, no foreign travelers are allowed to China. Even expats holding residence permits need to re-apply to enter the country. Often their applications are rejected.

Anyone accepted, even those vaccinated, still goes through China's strict quarantine procedures at their own expense. Currently, Beijing enforces a 14+7-day quarantine protocol: 14-days at a government-designated hotel, plus an additional 7-days at home.

Quarantine policies vary slightly from region to region. Consult your nearest Chinese embassy if you plan to visit China in the near future.

For other nationalities, you can look up specific visa requirements here.

 EDITOR'S NOTE : How can I stay long-term in China? - Under normal travel conditions, US citizens are eligible for a 10-year multiple-entry tourist visa with a maximum stay of 60 days per entry.

China does not have a retirement visa. Some expats use an F-class (business) permanent residence visa, but the investment requirements require several million dollars to qualify. China is not an easy choice for expats looking to retire abroad.

List of countries with easier retirement visa requirements

Compare Cost Of Living In BeiJing

Still researching the best cities for retirement? Check out our extensive Cost of Living collection for the best expat destinations. Get insider information and real examples of expat life from people who have spent years living abroad. I've compiled all the information you need: cost breakdowns, insider tips to save money, and detailed examples of the quality of lifestyle you can enjoy. 

Final Thoughts: Living in Beijing

Even after 13 years, Beijing never stops surprising me. Things change all the time, including the cost of living. Beijing challenges you and pushes you to keep up and grow. That's what has kept me here so long. Hopefully, when semi-normal travel starts up again, you have a chance to visit experience the nuances of this fantastic city.

Resources for Working and Living Abroad

Save Up To 40% On Your Moving Costs

EmbarkEx is Nomadic FIRE's new service to save you money on packing, trucking, and shipping overseas moves for expats who want to live and retire abroad.

I have partnered with 10,000+ pre-screened global moving companies to save you time and money. Fill out our 60-second form and get 5 quotes from accredited moving companies competing for your business. Compare and save by clicking the button below.

Protect Your Health While Abroad

Your home health insurance is unlikely to provide coverage for you while overseas. Get premium health insurance designed for expats and digital nomads that protects you anywhere you are in the world, even during a pandemic.

Use A Virtual Mailbox To Keep A Permanent US Address And Receive Important Documents and Packages

Get a US street address you can use while you are overseas. Use a digital mailbox with a REAL physical location to receive mail from USPS, FedEx, and UPS.

A virtual mailbox can receive and forward all your important documents and packages, replace credit cards, maintain state residency, get checks deposited, or file business and tax applications.

Start Speaking A New Language In 30 days

Pimsleur is the best method I have found to get to "Survival-Level" quickly when learning a new language. With Pimsleur, I can ease the stress of arriving in a new country and start speaking with people in my neighborhood. Ordering food, getting directions, haggling prices, and making friends is 10X easier when you can communicate in the local language.

Achieve better results using Pimsleur's short classes and organic learning methodology vs. the mindless repetition, endless verb conjugations, and tedious memorization of other language courses. 

Transfer Money Internationally

For expats and nomads, Wise offers an International Bank account for your money transfers. It's an easier and cheaper alternative for paying your bills while overseas.

Looking to buy property abroad, Wise has a Large Transfer Rate for even bigger savings. 

Get Your US Expat Tax Questions Answered

US Expat taxes are the most complex in the world. However, living abroad comes with potential tax advantages, but mistakes are very easy to make. It is no wonder many expats are frustrated. 

Avoid complications, penalties, and fines, Taxes For Expats is here to help.

Travel Tools and Resources

Skyscanner- My favorite airline search tool to find all the cheapest flights in one place.
Airport Pick-Up Service- Arrive at your destination stress-free with a private car cheaper than most taxis. 

Loctote- My favorite day pack. Secure your belongings while walking around town.

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I have traveled to over 40 countries to give you the best ways to save, invest, and live overseas for less cost than in the US. After five years of traveling, my list of places to live keeps getting longer. To give you more information on the best places to live abroad, I partner with experts from the expat community.

You want insider information from people with feet in the street? I only work with expats with real-life experience living in countries you want to know about. Together you get updated info on the best neighborhoods, detailed Cost of Living examples, money-saving advice, and recommendations on the local places to eat, drink, and see.

Are you a travel blogger with information you can share on living in another country? Contact me and let's talk about collaborating on a guest post. 


Katerina is an expat that has lived in Beijing for the past 13 years. During her time in The Big Dumpling, she has been a student, backpacker, office worker, entrepreneur, and digital nomad.

After completing her studies, during her first job in Beijing, she met her husband, Vali. Shortly after they quit the 9-5 race to become entrepreneurs. Their knowledge of Chinese culture, and his talent for art, resulted in a comic series, "Mort in China," which Chinese and foreign fans love dearly. Featuring Death as an expat working in China, the comic is an effort to demystify Chinese culture to foreigners in a fun way.

Trying to navigate business in China as a westerner has been one of her biggest challenges. But it has also been a fulfilling experience through which she learned a lot. However, after 13 years well spent in this country, Katerina has decided it's time to move on and leave China. As a digital nomad, she founded her blog "The Hobbit Hold," where she shares her China adventures, love of Chinese tea and will be exploring the concept of making a home after living abroad.

About the author

Hi, That's me. I'm Marco Sison. I am a survivor of the corporate rat race. I started Nomad FIRE to show you an alternative to the stress and grind of 70-hour weeks to pay off a mortgage, student loans, and countless bills. After getting laid off in 2015, I said screw it all and retired early at 41 years old.
I have traveled the last five years to over 40 countries to show you the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US.
I have been featured in: US News & World Reports, Huffington Post, MSN Money, USA Today, ABC Network, Yahoo Finance, Best Life, CW Network, Dr. Wealth, and others. [view press...]

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