Is the cost of living in China too high?
Although prices in China are rising, the cost of living here is still favorable compared with most developed countries. You will be amazed by how comfortably you can live and how strong your purchasing power is. Compared to developed countries, the cost of living and studying in China is relatively low. Accommodation in Beijing is roughly RMB 2000-3000 yuan per month. An average meal costs around 30-50 yuan. The subway has a flat rate of 2 yuan and buses within the city are even cheaper. Smaller cities and those in China’s central and western regions are particularly inexpensive.
In Beijing, China's most expensive city, you can live fairly comfortably off of US$15 a day. Renting an apartment costs around US$250-350 a month and a meal at your local noodle joint won't set you back more than a couple of dollars.
If you're on a tight budget, you'll find that the salary from a part-time teaching job can go a long way in China. Also, unless you have your heart set on living in Beijing or Shanghai, don't overlook China's lesser-known cities where you may only have to pay US$150 a month for a room on campus.
1 Renminbi Yuan (CNY; symbol ¥) = 10 jiao/mao or 100 fen. Notes are in denominations of ¥100, 50, 20, 10, 5, 1, 5 jiao and 1 jiao. Coins are in denominations of ¥1, 5 jiao and 1 jiao. Counterfeit ¥50 and ¥100 notes are commonplace. The Yuan is often referred to as the ‘guai’ in street slang.
American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard and Visa are widely accepted in major provincial cities in designated establishments. Credit cards are often unlikely to be accepted away from the major cities.
ATMs can generally be found in airports, hotels, shopping centres and banks, as well as in many major cities and towns.
To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in US Dollars.
Mon-Fri 0900-1600/1700. Some banks close for lunch from 1200-1300. Select branches in major cities offer extended hours in the evenings and on weekends.
Imports and exports of local currency are limited to ¥20,000. The import and export of foreign currency is unlimited, but amounts exceeding the equivalent of US$5,000 must be declared.
It is possible to exchange CNY outside China, albeit mainly in Southeast Asia and Hong kong. Foreign banknotes and traveller's cheques can be exchanged at branches of The Bank of China. In hotels for tourists, imported luxury items such as spirits may be bought with Western currency. Scottish and Northern Irish banknotes cannot be exchanged.
The following items may be imported into China without incurring customs duty:
Arms and ammunition, imitation arms, narcotics, fruit, animals and animal products, and any publication (print, audio or video) directed against the public order and the morality of China.
Customs officials may seize audio and videotapes, books, records and CDs to check for pornographic, political or religious material. You must complete baggage declaration forms upon arrival noting all valuables (such as cameras, watches and jewellery); this may be checked on departure. You should keep receipts for items such as jewellery, jade, handicrafts, paintings, calligraphy or other similar items in order to obtain an export certificate from the authorities on leaving. Without this documentation, you cannot take such items out of the country.
All articles banned from import as well as publications or media containing state secrets, valuable cultural artefacts, and endangered/rare animals and plants (and their seeds).
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