Cost of Living Guide

The two largest expenses for ex-pats living in Beijing are housing and schooling. Other than that, the cost of living is still quite low in this city.


  • The price range for a 3-bedroom central apartment is 16,000 to 20,000 RMB per month (depends on the specific location and whether the apartment is furnished or not)

School Tuition Fees

School fees can vary greatly depending on the type of school and the child’s grade level.


Utilities are not always charged by the month. For many international complexes, utilities are prepaid and just “topped off” when running low. However, the following rates will give a good representation of the average cost of utilities for a 3-bedroom apartment:

  • Electricity in the summer: 600 RMB per month for a 3 bedroom; Electricity in the non-summer months (no A/C use): 150 RMB per month for a 3 bedroom
  • Water: 70 RMB per month
  • Gas: Gas bills run about 5 RMB per month.


Average food costs from a supermarket chain:

  • Milk: 12 RMB/liter
  • Local Cheese: 110 RMB/kilo
  • Chicken Breasts: 30 RMB/kilo
  • Eggs: A dozen eggs 13 RMB
  • Bread: 13 RMB/loaf (500g)
  • Rice: 7 RMB/kilo
  • Potatoes: 8 RMB/kilo
  • Instant Coffee: Nestle Café box of 22 instant coffee packets 27 RMB
  • Apples: 12 RMB/kilo
  • Tomatoes: 9 RMB/kilo
  • Lettuce: 5 RMB per head of romaine lettuce


  • An average 20-minute ride in a taxi will cost between 24-30 RMB.
  • There are monthly passes for city transport 200 RMB, and a one-way subway ticket will cost 4 RMB and bus fare about 1 RMB per ride.
  • A liter of the highest grade of petrol 8.15 RMB.


  • Full-price cinema tickets (the most expensive ticket) will cost 70-90 RMB per ticket. There are often half-price discounts for matinees and students.
  • Opera tickets can cost between 200 RMB – 1,000 RMB for VIP seats.
  • A meal at an up-market western restaurant for two, with several courses will run about 300 RMB
  • A meal for a family of four at a family-style western restaurant will run about the same.


  • Cable TV: 200 RMB per month
  • Mobile phone: 50 RMB per month (depends on individual usage since calls can cost about 30 cents RMB per minute and 10 cents RMB for each text message without any special discounts)
  • Landline/DSL Internet: 125 RMB per month
  • 1 hour of housekeeping: 15-20 RMB
  • 1 hour of babysitting: 20-25 RMB
  • Dry cleaning cost for 1 shirt: 15 RMB