Is China a good place to retire?

Landscape Photo of Night City

Are you thinking of relocating to China to retire? Do you want to go somewhere that is completely different to where you have lived all of your life and where your money will go a lot further?  Then read this article to see if China is for you.

Here’s all you need to know about living and retiring in China:

  • Is China a good country to live in?
  • How much does it cost to retire in China?
  • Can foreigners buy property in China?
  • Is living in China safe?
  • What retirement visas are available in China?
  • What is healthcare like in China?
  • What to do in China?

Not that you know some of the most common questions for people thinking of retiring to China read on for the answers.

Is China a good country to live in?

China is a country that combines modern and traditional culture and it has a high level of tolerance for outsiders. Getting familiar with the Chinese way of life is not difficult for those from different cultural backgrounds if you really want to by learning a little of the language and meeting the locals half way.

China has one of the world’s most efficient public transportation systems in the world. You may travel to all four corners of this massive country by bus or train. China has the world’s largest high-speed rail network with approximately 40,000 kilometers in operation as of 2021. 

Aside from high-speed trains there are also leisurely trains for individuals who like to travel while taking in the scenery and socializing with the locals. You can visit more areas for less money thanks to the large train and bus systems. They are constantly expanding their transportation system.

China also has a diverse range of delicious cuisines just within China and that does not take into account those imported from the rest of Asia and the rest of the world. You will never run out of fresh flavors to stimulate your taste buds ranging from the savory tang of Sichuan foods to the appetizing nature of Zhejiang cuisine.

How much does it cost to retire in China?

China is so much cheaper when it comes to most things that you need to pay compared to the United States. If you are looking for a destination where you can enjoy your life to the fullest without having to pay way too much for it, then maybe China is the perfect destination for you. 

China is 35% percent cheaper than the US and the price of housing is at around 45% cheaper than what you have to pay in the US

Here’s a list of some common bills you might encounter:

Utilities (Electricity & Gas)$57 USD
Petrol (1 Gallon / 3.8 L)$1 USD
Internet per month$14 USD
Rent – 3 bed / 2 bath / 2 car per month$641 USD
Rent – studio apartment per month$288 USD
Meal for 2 in an inexpensive restaurant$6 USD
Hourly rate for cleaning help$6 USD

NOTE: These are the average monthly costs in China. You may spend a lot less if you are living outside Beijing and the famous coastal cities. You can also check this article How much money do you need to retire in China? to know more about prices.

Can foreigners buy property in China?

Yes, you can but it comes with an exception. In China an expatriate can only possess one property and it must be a residential property. Provinces and cities have their own requirements. In Beijing for example you must pay social security taxes for at least 5 years before you can buy a home.

Various cities and regions just like in the United States have different property markets. A favorable location will cost more per square foot than a more rural location. Keep this in mind while you are searching for the right home for you and your family.

For purchases or long-term leases, it’s always safer to go through a real estate agent and I’ve given a few for you to consider below. They will advise you in detail about any applicable local rules, fees, and taxes so that you are as well informed as possible.

Here are a few real estates agents you can consider:

TIP: Use the keyword “房地產” if you are trying to find more real estate agents in China.

NOTE: Some of these sites are only available in Chinese. To see the website in English, turn on Google Chrome’s auto-translate option.

Is living in China safe?

Beijing has been designated as a low-threat region for crime by the US Department of State since the introduction of more police and security officers and appears to have stopped most of the most serious offenses. 

Nonetheless small crimes like theft and pickpocketing are common. In general though, crime is higher in less-developed parts of big cities. Statistics show that more crimes of opportunity occur throughout the night.

In most bigger Chinese cities pollution is a common safety threat and expats with pre-existing respiratory difficulties should exercise caution. In many regions tap water is unsafe to drink thus expats should drink bottled or purified water.

All internet in China is filtered and monitored so if you want free access to the rest of the world you will need to get yourself a VPN while you are there. Then you will have full access to everything you are used to and won’t be monitored by the government with what you look at.

China has a different version of everything normal global application due to the internet restrictions so they have Wechat instead of facebook and Whatsapp in one application.  You will get to know the China version of each application when you get there.

While life seems relatively the same while in China, be mindful that you don’t have the same rights as in democratic countries and you can be jailed without cause until they bring charges and you may not have the right to a lawyer. Check into these differences before you decide to live there.

What retirement visas are available in China?

There is no visa specifically for pensioners in China. For people who desire to retire in China however there are various options for long-term residency. A permanent residency visa is the most popular choice for retirees.

The F-class business visa, which is accessible to people who have either established or financed a firm in China or made a major investment, is the most popular visa for retirees. The permanent resident permit may have varied criteria based on where you intend to go in China. 

For example if you invest in the countryside rather than the city, the minimum investment requirement may be lower. The minimum amount to invest is normally 2 million Chinese Yuan. F-class visas can be obtained for three, six, or a year at a time. 

The F-class visa application process is straightforward, requiring only a few personal documents and proof of contribution to the People’s Republic of China’s economy. This might be evidence of your investments or a letter explaining why you’re in China for business.

Finally for those who qualify, China gives spousal visas to foreigners married to Chinese citizens as well as back-to-back tourist visas. These could also be options for certain people to stay in China longer than they could on a single tourist visa.

If you go through to get your citizenship China does not allow for multiple citizenships so that is something to keep in mind when you are deciding to get more than a residency.

LINK: Official Visa Information for China

What is healthcare like in China?

In China, healthcare is mixed with significant quality disparities between rural and bigger city  healthcare facilities. The healthcare system in China is ranked 144th out of 190 countries. China spends 5.5 percent of its GDP on healthcare and has a doctor-to-population ratio of 1.6 per 1,000 people.

Some rural clinics will not treat foreigners or will not accept non-Chinese health insurance. The majority of city hospitals meet American standards and some even have foreign branches. 

International wings in public hospitals are usually modeled after Western hospitals and are a collaboration between the health care companies and governmental. They don’t have long lines and put a premium on customer service.

Treatments in public hospitals are a lot less expensive than private hospital treatments. International hospitals are nearly solely for non-Chinese nationals and are located in major cities such as Shanghai and Beijing. They usually have English-speaking doctors on staff and many of the medical personnel have had Western education.

The government provides basic health insurance to the majority of the Chinese population however the coverage is not complete. As a result, for those who can afford it, private insurance is suggested. Prescriptions, outpatient services, various surgeries and overnight hospital stays are all covered by most policies which cost less than a hundred dollars per month.

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

What to do in China?

China is gradually becoming one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations. You’ll have immediate access to Shanghai, Hong Kong, the Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors, Palace Museum, and other attractions if you live there. 

There are countless gorgeous locations to visit and numerous activities to participate in. There are 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China, so there will always be something fresh to visit.

What you can do in China:

LINK: China Unesco World Heritage Sites

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