Cost of living in Beijing

Beijing, the capital of China, is one of the most popular cities among tourists. This is the second (after Shanghai) city in terms of population in China, and, in addition, one of the four separated cities bordering the Hebei province and the separate city, Tianjin. Beijing is the largest cultural, educational, and political center of the country, which often becomes the reason why the city is full of numerous tourists fascinated with China. The city is worth seeing and even staying for a little longer. What does life in Beijing look like? What is the cost of living in Beijing? Read further to find out.

Renting a flat in Beijing

As it is in Shanghai, apartments in Beijing are not the cheapest, and their prices also depend on the district and distance from the center. It is worth mentioning that despite the high price, the cost is still lower in comparison with rental prices in Shanghai.

Renting a one-bedroom apartment in the center of Beijing usually costs about RMB 6,000–15,000 per month (approx. USD 870–2,180). If you decide to live away from the center, the prices of renting apartments will decrease. In that case, the rent is RMB 3,000–9,000 per month (approx. USD 430–1,300).

Bigger apartments are also more expensive. For a three-bedroom apartment in the city center, you will pay about RMB 19,550 per month (approx. USD 2,800). It is even more expensive than in Shanghai. To rent a similar apartment in the city center, you will have to pay RMB 7,000–18,000 per month (approx. USD 1,000–2,610).

One of the wealthiest districts of Beijing is Zhongguancun (the technological center of the city), Guomao (the business center), and Shunyi, filled with villas. Sanlitun and Wudakou are also becoming more popular. Apartments in these districts may be very expensive due to their location and prestige.

People that don’t know the area and the language are advised to hire a real estate agent who will help in choosing the best apartment for them. There are many real estate agencies in Beijing, so it is best to ask your friends for recommendations. It should be remembered that a real estate agent charges a commission for his help, which sometimes reaches 100% of the monthly rent. In Beijing, agencies charge the largest commission for their work.

Apartment in Beijing

Plenty of housing offers can be found on Chinese websites.

Rent a flat in Beijing

As you can see in the picture above, the costs of apartments vary. The price of renting the first flat is about RMB 17,000 per month (approx. USD 2,470). The 40m2 flat and has one bedroom, one living room, and a bathroom. The neighborhood, as well as near means of transportation, are considered really good. The second flat has an area of almost 65m2. The monthly rent is RMB 3,000 (approx. USD 430). It is located near the supermarket, grocery store, and restaurant. The last flat costs RMB 220,000 per month (approx. USD 32,000). The flat has an area of 330m2, on which there are six bedrooms, one living room, and two bathrooms. It is well-equipped and in an ancient style.

The prices depend on the area of the flat, but first of all, on the location. The closer to the center, the higher the price is.

Cost of rent in Beijing

When deciding whether to rent a flat in Beijing, you can’t forget about paying monthly fees. Taking an 85m2’s flat as an example, the costs for monthly fees are about RMB 200 to 520 per month (approx. USD 30–75). These are electricity, trash, water, and heating bill. If you want access to the Internet with an unlimited data limit, it will be an additional cost of about RMB 90–300 per month (approx. USD 13–44).

Buying a flat

Some people wonder if it is better to buy a flat instead of renting it. Prices of apartments in Beijing vary and are certainly not cheap.

The price of m2 of a flat located in the center of Beijing or a short distance from the center usually is from 100,000 to 180,000 (approx. USD 14,500–26,100). By opting for a similar flat outside the city center, you can only count on barely lower costs, usually in the range of RMB 50,000–100,000 per m2 (approx. USD 7,200–14,500).

On Chinese websites, you can find apartment offers and prices for buying a flat.

Buy a flat in Beijing

The price per m2 of a flat in Beijing is in red. As you can see, prices also vary. Real estate prices in China have recently increased, and places such as Beijing and Shanghai are considered very expensive places to live, mainly due to the prices of flats and houses.

Cost of living in Beijing – transportation

Public transportation

When moving to a big city like Beijing, it is worth getting acquainted with public transportation and prices for tickets. When you are moving around Beijing, it is best to use the subway. This way you will avoid unwanted traffic jams forming in the city center. The only problem when you go by subway can be the number of co-passengers. The cost of traveling one metro line is RMB 5 (approx. USD 0.70). The exception is the line running from the airport to the city center, for which you have to pay RMB 29 (approx. USD 4.20).

The price of a monthly pass for transport in Beijing is usually about RMB 160–380 (approx. USD 23–55).

Taking a taxi in Beijing

Taxi fare in Beijing starts at RMB 14 (approx. USD 2). Each next kilometer of the route costs RMB 3 (approx. USD 0.40). If you decide to go from Beijing airport to the city center by taxi, it will cost RMB 135 (approx. USD 20). The taxi’s charge for the one-hour wait is RMB 60-120 (approx. USD 7–14).

The cost of renting a bike in Beijing

In Beijing, cycling has become very popular. Because of this, numerous bike station has been created where people with suitable phone applications can rent this two-wheeled vehicle without any problems. The first hour of bike rental is free. Each next hour costs RMB 1 (approx. USD 0.15). The maximum price for a day is RMB 10 (approx. USD 1.50). Going by bicycle around Beijing is an interesting way of moving around the city. It is definitely healthier than going somewhere by bus, and in peak hours, it can be even faster and more convenient.

How expensive is fuel in Beijing?

What about the price of fuel in Beijing? Though it is true that in China, only those with a Chinese driving license can drive a car, but some may be interested in the price of one liter of gasoline. It usually costs about RMB 8–10 (approx. USD 1.16 –1.45).

Cost of living in Beijing – eating out

Eating out will always be more expensive than eating at home. What does the food in Beijing look like compared to other cities?

If you want to eat in a cheap restaurant, you will pay about RMB 20–50 (approx. USD 2.90–7.20), depending on what you choose. It is a slightly lower cost than in Shanghai. If you decide to choose a middle-class restaurant for a three-course meal for two people, you will have to pay RMB 160–350 (approx. USD 23–50). For those who want to eat something quickly, there are still a lot of fast-food restaurants such as KFC or McDonald’s to choose from. For a McMeal in Beijing, you will pay about RMB 35–50 (approx. USD 5–7.30).

Cost of living in Beijing - beverages

Those who want to drink something in town for half a liter of domestic beer will pay RMB 5–20 (approx. USD 0.70–3). Imported beer in a 0,33 l bottle is a slightly higher cost. For this kind of beer, you will pay from RMB 15 to 36 (approx. USD 2.20–5.20). Coca-cola or Pepsi in a 0.33 l bottle will cost from RMB 3 to 8 (approx. USD 0.40–1.20). Water in the same bottle costs RMB 2–6 (approx. USD 0.30–0.90). If you want to drink coffee, remember that in China, coffee’s popularity is still growing, so prices can be quite high at the moment. For a cappuccino, you will pay from RMB 15 to 48 (approx. USD 2.20–7). On the other hand, the espresso will cost RMB 22 (approx. USD 3.20).

Products in Beijing stores

Eating at home is definitely cheaper than eating out. It is recommended to everyone who wants to save some cash. Some people even prefer to prepare meals themselves. Below you can see examples of products and their prices.

  • Milk 1 l: RMB 10–20 (approx. USD 1.45–3)
  • Water (1.5 l bottle): RMB 3–8 (approx. USD 0.40–1.20)
  • A bottle of wine (mid-range): RMB 38–200 (approx. USD 5.50–29)
  • Domestic beer (0.5 l bottle): RMB 4–12 (approx. USD 0.60–1.70)
  • Chicken breasts 1 kg: RMB 14–41 (approx. USD 2–6)
  • Oranges 1 kg: RMB 6–20 (approx. USD 0.90–2.90)
  • Potatoes 1 kg: RMB 2–10 (approx. USD 0.30–1.45)
  • Rice (white) 1 kg: RMB 5–14 (approx. USD 0.70–3)
  • Beef round 1 kg: RMB 50–125 (approx. USD 7.30–18.10)
  • White cheese 1 kg: RMB 50–150 (approx. USD 7.30–21.80)
  • Tomato 1 kg: RMB 4–18 (approx. USD 0.60–2.60)

As you can see, the costs of products purchased in the Beijing store are found to be slightly lower in most cases than products from stores in Shanghai.

Products in Beijing

Free time activities in Beijing – costs

In Beijing, you can spend your free time in many different ways. You can go to the cinema, karaoke bar, pub, fitness club or many other interesting places. You can also go to numerous parks and admire worth seeing sights.

How much money should you have to spend on your free time while living in Beijing? For a monthly fitness card, you will pay from RMB 150 to even 700 (approx. USD 21.80–100). If you want to spend your free time going to the cinema, be ready to pay about RMB 45–120 for a ticket (approx. USD 6.50–17.40). The prices are really similar to the ones in Shanghai.

Some people prefer to spend their time sightseeing. What is worth visiting in Beijing, and how much does it cost? One of the most important places is definitely the Forbidden City. The admission ticket to the museum, from October to March, costs RMB 40 (approx. USD 5.80). However, from April to the end of September, you will pay RMB 60 (approx. USD 8.70). Another place often visited by many tourists is, of course, the Great Wall. For tickets, from October to the end of March, you will pay RMB 40 (approx. USD 5.80), and from April to the end of September, you will pay RMB 45 (approx. USD 6.50).

Cost of living in Beijing – education costs

Monthly fees for preschools and private kindergartens for children are very similar to those in Shanghai. Monthly, for one child, parents have to pay from RMB 3,500 to 12,000 (approx. USD 510–1,740). The annual fee for international primary schools is also not the lowest. Charges range from RMB 100,000 to 250,000 (approx. USD 14,500–36,200). When parents choose the school for their child, they take everything into consideration. The location and public opinion are very important.

Job in Beijing and standard salary

Those people who want to start working in Beijing are surely interested in the average amount of the offered salary. The monthly net salary (after-tax) in the capital of China is around RMB 10,480 (approx. USD 1,520). Earnings are slightly lower than in Shanghai, but it is worth noting that living in Beijing, compared to life in that seaside city, turns out to be cheaper.

On the Internet, both on Chinese and English websites, you can find and compare numerous job offers. Below, we present job offers shown on Chinese websites.

Find a job in Beijing

However, it is hard to use Chinese websites without knowing the Chinese language. To those people, we recommend English websites with job offers. Below we present job offers along with the proposed salary, found on the English-language website.

English-speaking jobs in Beijing, China

Cost of living in Beijing

Based on the Numbeo website, a family of four people who live in Beijing, for living expenses for a month (excluding rental costs) spends around RMB 16,865.20 (approx. USD 2,450). At the same time, the cost of one person is, on average RMB 4,557.45 (approx. USD 660). The cost of living in Beijing is really similar to the cost of living in Warsaw. 

Beijing is the capital city of China, so the cost of living may be higher than in other Chinese cities, however, as we mentioned, it is comparable to living in Warsaw. Living in Beijing will definitely be cheaper than living in Shanghai. The costs of living (including rent fees) are about 9% lower. It is worth noting that the prices of products (mainly vegetables and fruits) in Shanghai are more than 30% higher than in the capital city of China.

Before moving to China, apart from visual factors, it is worth considering the costs of living in a city. It is often said that living in China is cheap, but it is dependent on the city. In cities such as Beijing or Shanghai, it will certainly be more expensive than in less popular places.