How much does it cost to learn Chinese in China? Except for the fixed amount of tuition fee for Mandarin learning, the answer to this question depends on what kind of cost items are included in your daily expense. Besides that, which city are you living in and what your lifestyle is like should be considered as well.
The cost of living in China varies from one place to the next. If you live in tier top cities of China and stick to the Western living experience with fancy housing, restaurants, foreign shopping stores, and supermarkets, you would find your overall living cost is at a considerable high expense in China.
The truth is that living cost to learn Chinese in China could be very cheap or economical once you can mix these cost items smartly. Because if you only stick with the western standards of food, groceries, and housing, then your expense amount would be considerably high, and you will lose the chance of authentic living experience of China. However, you may experience a hard transition if you only try local kinds of stuff. Therefore, the best solution is to mix these two up, trying authentic local living and maintaining part of your home lifestyle. So you wouldn’t break the bank after completing your study in China.
In this article, we’re going to discuss different kinds of cost items you may count into your budget if you’re planning to come to study the Chinese language in China. There might be a few items that be missed, but we will try to cover everything comprehensively.
Renting a flat and utilities
Rent could be the most expensive thing to pay for when you live in China. Normally, it takes up to 30% of the monthly income to enjoy a comfortable living condition for locals. The average renting fee is various in different areas of China. In the big metropolitans like Beijing and Shanghai, rent prices here start at approximately 6000 RMB a month. This start price is just for a studio or even a room in a shared apartment. To enjoy a modest apartment in a nice complex, most shopping and eating outdone locally, and probably be located close to the city center or not far from bus stops and metro lines, you may have to spend over 10000 RMB on rent.
However, you may enjoy the same standard flat with much less price in other second-tier cities of China, such as Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan province. It won’t charge you over 5000 RMB to rent a fancy flat that is well decorated and has a full furniture package.
The better option would be having your accommodation and meals inclusive of your tuition fee, such as the language program provided by Keats School, the best Chinese language school in China. Keats School is dedicated to delivering the best Mandarin education to foreign students who want an immersive learning experience in China. At Keats School, once you’re enrolling in the intensive One-on-one Chinese program, you can have a customized language course with top quality and enjoy the accommodation and 3 meals a day, which is included in your tuition fee already.
It’s also straightforward and cheap to ask for a room cleaning and drinking water supply service at Keats Dormitory.
So you wouldn’t have to charge extra expenses on these items during your stay in China. By saving from these cost items, your cost to learn the Chinese language in China will be quite cheap.
As to the utility fee, it costs less than 200 RMB per month for apartment utilities. This is how it breaks down:
Electricity: Averagely, it charges from 40RMB to 100 RMB per month, depending on if you use AC or electrical heating.
Water: approximately costs 35 RMB per month; may increase a bit if you do laundry frequently.
Gas (for cooking): If you love cooking by yourself, it’s a good idea to use gas. It’s cheaper than electricity. 200 RMB can last for a couple weeks.
Eating out & Coffee
If you can adapt to local food very well, you may save more on eating out than those who mostly go to western restaurants. A Western restaurant usually sets you back twice that much. Normally, it won’t cost you over 100 RMB to get a typical Chinese meal with drinks for two persons, and it even costs much less if you’re happy to eat at a small hole-in-the-wall place. But it would also be possible to expect to pay around 200-300 RMB if you’re eating at a fancy and expensive Chinese restaurant.
If you are a fan of coffee drinks and need your daily caffeine fix, you will expect to pay at least 40 RMB for your daily intake of coffee, not only at Starbucks but also at other coffee chains and cafes.
If you’re happy with making coffee on your own, you can save a lot from this item too. Upgrade coffee beans may charge quite expensive, but good coffee beans, especially the local Yunnan coffee beans, only charge 50 RMB per pound.
A Yi, the Chinese word of the professional domestic help lady, is normally hired to help with households, such as cleaning, food shopping, and cooking. It cost around 180 to 360 RMB for each session of service. There is also the option to hire a live-in A Yi, which can be a good choice if you have children. A Yi could also be a good native speaker to practice your Chinese with.
PHONE & INTERNET
For a middle-of-the-road Internet connection bundled with a land-line phone and one cell phone SIM card, we pay around 200 RMB per month. This includes unlimited (but not always fast) data but only 300 minutes of talk time for the phones combined. We have another mobile phone for about 100 RMB per month for unlimited data, 50 minutes of talk and 300 text messages per month, which suits our needs. If you commit to longer terms, the prices are lower if you buy 6 months or so in advance.
Public transportation is very cheap in China. To get more details about transportation in China, you can read another post of Keats School: 6 Types of Main Transportation When You Live in China.
Buying a western car in China is more expensive than in many European countries. Gas prices are similar to the US.
Shopping at an international supermarket will cost you more than the local ones, for western items cost western prices plus a premium.
A typical trip to the local supermarket often costs less than 200 RMB for staples like milk, yogurt, fruit, vegetables, cleaning supplies, etc. If you want to buy fresh food materials, an open market is better at supplying fresh veggies, fruits, and meats at a lower price. You can also find a lot of typical local street snacks at this kind of open market.
Reading more about the famous local open market in Kunming from this post: THINGS TO DO IN KUNMING.
The tip about using Cash or Card in China
Besides the expense, you should also take this “using cash or card problem” into your consideration when related to the costs of learning the Chinese language in China. Cash used to rule everyday life here in China. However, mobile payment, such as WeChat Pay and Ali Pay, has been taking over in recent years. More and more people use this mobile payment to pay by simply scanning a QR code. You will find it’s quite inconvenient at some places if you insist on paying by cash or card. You have to open a Chinese bank account firstly for using mobile payment.
International credit cards are often accepted but are not as widely accepted as local Chinese credit cards. Visa and MasterCard are better than American Express.