How much money do you need to retire in China?

People Walking on Pedestrian Lane

Do you wish to experience Asia in a country where it has beautiful natural landscapes as well as great historical sites and a culture completely different to what you may be used to? Are you worried how much it could be if you lived there?

Here’s a summary of the living cost in China:

Rent for a 3 Bedroom House$642 USD / 4,103 CN¥
Rent for a 1 Bedroom Flat$288 USD / 1,840 CN¥
Utilities (Electricity, Gas, Rates)$57 USD / 364 CN¥
Internet$14 USD / 89 CN¥
Maid Service (Hourly)$5 USD / 32 CN¥
Groceries$200 USD / 1272 CN¥
Dining Out (2 people) For 4 times$25 USD / 160CN¥
Fitness or Social Club Membership$41 USD / 262CN¥

NOTE: These are charges based on typical prices in Beijing, the capital and are subject to change depending on where you live. The way you live will have an impact on how much money you save.

Now you understand the basic amounts for cost of living in China let’s dig deeper to see how you can tailor them to yourself

What Is China Like?

China is a huge country with drastically varied terrain, stretching 3,100 miles (5,000 kilometers) east to west and 3,400 miles (5,500 kilometers) north to south. It has all terrain types from mountains, high plateaus, sandy deserts and lush wood.

The mountains cover one-third of China’s land area. Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, is located on the boundary between China and Nepal. There are thousands of rivers in China. The Yangtze and Yellow Rivers are the two most major rivers in China. The Yangtze is the world’s third-biggest river, measuring 3,915 miles (6,300 kilometers) in length.

China has the largest population of any country on the planet, with 1.4 billion people. The cities are home to around a third of the population. The remainder of the population lives in rural areas.

In China, arts and crafts have a long history. The Chinese were among the first to employ silk, jade, bronze, wood and paper to create art thousands of years ago. Calligraphy is a type of artistic writing that as we all know originated in China.

Much of modern China’s thoughts and beliefs are founded on the teachings of a government official who lived over 3,000 years ago. Kongfuzi, commonly known as Confucius, was a Chinese philosopher who taught people the importance of virtues, including morality, benevolence, and education.

What Is Healthcare Like In China?

The task of providing adequate health care to such a massive population must be daunting and even though they heavily fund it they still have a way to go especially in rural areas.  China’s public healthcare system is not at all comparable to that of Europe or the USA as a whole across the country. While the public health system is free to citizens and residents, you may prefer private cover instead.

In big cities like Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai the degree of care is world class. In reality, some of the world’s best medical research is conducted there. A large range of clinics and hospitals with highly skilled specialists that can speak English and other languages is astounding.

Having a private insurance plan is critical if you want the same level of care as you would expect in the USA or Europe and for that you will have to have a larger city close by.  Living truly rural if you had medical problems that required specialists is not advisable.

Private insurance in China will start from $199 USD a month with a $1,000 USD deductible for any major surgeries.

You can check to the following websites of several pricing of International health insurance:

How Much Does Food Cost In China?

Eating in restaurants is cheap, easy, fun and affordable in China and you will eat more out then you will at home. Because there are so many possibilities, many Chinese people seldom cook at home. This will be a drastic change for most people but a welcome one if you hate doing the dishes or fighting with a dishwasher.

A platter of 12 cooked dumplings from a good local Chinese restaurant chain like Mr. Shi’s Dumplings can set you back 8 USD for typical fillings like pork and cabbage. Classic dishes like kung pao chicken “gong bao ji ding ” are often priced between 3 and 7 USD each plate.

In a Chinese restaurant it is customary to share all of the food in a family-style setting. You should order one main dish per person and one extra for the table along with steamed rice. Then you can add in a few beers and your bill will normally end under 9 USD per person. A KFC or McDonald’s fast food combo meal will set you back around 5 USD

Of course there are upscale Chinese restaurants such as Quanjude and Da Dong where it’s a bit expensive. Expect to pay between 30 and 50 USD per person for an excellent feast with modern twists on traditional dishes.

Food prices are expensive in a mid-range international restaurant like Element Fresh, Moka Bros or Blue Frog. Salads cost between 11 and 16 USD. Burgers and sandwiches are priced between 12.5 to 19 USD. Main dishes with beef might cost anywhere between 16 and 42 USD. Most asian countries including China don’t eat as much meat as we do in the western world so with low demand prices rise.

These Are A Few Recommended Restaurants in China:

TIP: Some of these websites are in Chinese. If you open the website in google chrome you can use the built in translation to change it to English.

How much is rent in China?

The rental rate in China is 60.1 percent less than in the United States. A one-bedroom flat in a large U.S. city, for example, costs $1,350 per month on average. A one-bedroom apartment in a main city center in China costs approximately $514 per month.

Property in a large city, on the other hand, is typically more costly in China. On average, an apartment in the heart of New York City costs $1,319 per sq foot, whereas an unit in Beijing costs around $1,480 per sq foot. Because land in China is difficult to come by, this is substantially more expensive. As a result, if you want to stretch your retirement savings farther, renting in China might be a better option.

A deposit, utilities and a realtor’s commission are not included in the rental prices. If you want to stay in a furnished apartment in China, consider paying between 10% and 20% more. Although you may be tempted to save money by contacting the landlord directly rather than going via a real estate agent, keep in mind that all agreements will be written in Chinese. So have a translator that can help you with the contracts and a property lawyer to check the fineprint so there are no surprises.

If you want to buy instead of rent you’ll need to produce documentation that you’ve been in China for at least a year and intend to stay in the home you buy. Keep in mind that in China ‘purchasing’ is merely a 70-year lease and the state has the authority to terminate your tenancy agreement if the land is required for development.

Here are a few real estates agents you can consider:

How Much Do Groceries Cost in China?

China has lower prices for basic goods than the United States. You could go to a China produce market and pay 6 USD for the largest bag of fruits and vegetables you’ve ever seen and eat for a week or more. In China, grocery costs are 55% cheaper than in the United States while the restaurant cost is about 70% cheaper when compared to the US. 

You may want to eat out every day during your retirement but keep in mind that local food differs greatly from that of the United States. For the first few months it may be preferable to cook for yourself until your palette adjusts to the local cuisine. To help adjust in any country, getting a local probiotic from the chemist or pharmacy can speed up the process.

Here is the overview of normal kitchen staples:

Milk1 Liter / 1 quart$2 USD
Bread1 Loaf$1.8 USD
Eggs1 Dozen$2 USD
Beef1 kg/ 2.2 pounds$13 USD
Chicken Breasts1 kg/ 2.2 pounds$4.3 USD
Beer12$2.8 USD
Wine1 Liter / 1 quart$12 USD

IMPORTANT: At this point I would normally give you a local supermarket website to check current pricing but with everything on delivery apps there is not one I can show you. I can however point you to this article that lists the apps that are big across China for supermarket deliveries. This is a growing global mega trend.

LINK: Top 10 grocery delivery apps in China 2021

NOTE: these prices were only valid at the making of this article and check the grocery websites below for current pricing.

So what do you think so far about retiring in China? Is China a good place to retire? Check that article and find out all you have to know.

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