How much does it cost to live in China? How does banking work for expats in China? And how do you handle taxes from abroad? We answer all these questions and more.
Understand How it Works at Home and in China
You need to keep in mind your income tax situation, both in China and at home. Only because you are living and working abroad does not mean that you don’t have to file a tax return at home, at least if home is the US. This may differ for other countries. Please consult your tax adviser.
It is important to understand the tax situation, both at the federal level and for your specific state, to know what you need to keep track of, e.g., what dates and numbers you will need once tax times comes around.
COST OF LIVING
What are the Costs of Living in China?
Is coming to China a smart financial move for you? Well, the answer is again: that depends. (Do you sense a pattern here?) The overall cost of living in Beijing is rising and comparable to other capital cities. Cost of living rankings for Beijing vary from one study to the next, depending on what cost items are included.
The reality is, life in Beijing can be very cheap or very expensive. Western standards including housing, food, groceries will cost you Western prices plus a premium. Local stuff often is really cheap. Mixing both, some Western and some local, allows you a decent standard of living without breaking the bank.
How Does Banking for Expats Work in China?
Cards are not used as much as in the US. Instead almost everything can be paid with your phone, using WeChat Wallet or AliPay.
You can use your American (or other country) ATM card to withdraw Chinese RMB at many Chinese ATMs. Fees differ between banking alliances, so it is worth paying attention to the logos on the ATM machine and the back of your card. ATMs are at banks, in shopping malls and at other locations. If you get paid in China or want to cut back on foreign ATM fees, you will need to open a Chinese bank account. The Chinese banking system is a bit different but with some initial help of a Chinese friend manageable.