Working in Beijing, China

Monthly Earnings 200,000

Q1. How is that income broken down? (full-time salary, private students, on-line teaching, extra work, etc)

I moved to Beijing about a year ago having returned to the UK to complete a masters degree in TESOL. Prior to that I had worked in Chiang Mai for a year on about 40,000 per month. I now run a very successful language school with my Chinese girlfriend and my salary is direct from our business.

Q2. How much money can you save each month?

We live north of Beijing so living costs are low. At the moment I save about 150,000 per month.

Q3. How much do you pay for your accommodation and what do you live in exactly (house, apartment, condo)?

We rent a one-bedroom apartment here and pay 20,000 per month. It's quite big and has all the mod cons.

Q4. What do you spend a month on the following things?


Not much at all. I cycle to work and use Mobike which is pocket change each month. The subway and buses here are incredibly cheap compared to what I paid in UK. I can travel to the city centre (about hour on subway) for about 50p.

Utility bills

Included in rental fee.

Food - both restaurants and supermarket shopping

We tend to eat at home mostly as we both enjoy food shopping and cooking. Maybe once or twice a week, we'll eat out at restaurants. Per month I probably spend 15,000 baht.

Nightlife and drinking

Occasional drinker but rarely a nightclubber now I'm in my mid thirties. I enjoy a good Scotch whisky and bring couple bottles back every time I return home to visit parents. Per month I probably spend about 5,000.

Books, computers

I recently bought new laptop which was essential but should last the next 3 years or so. I'm an avid reader and probably get through five books a month. On average I probably spend between 5-10,000.

Q5. How would you summarize your standard of living in one sentence?

After many difficult years, I am now living a very successful and comfortable life.

Q6. What do you consider to be a real 'bargain' here?

Transport, as mentioned. It's incredibly cheap here and the subway is very efficient once I managed to work it out.

Q7. In your opinion, how much money does anyone need to earn here in order to survive?

Beijing is actually quite cheap if you have a partner or friend here to help you. To survive it's probably about the same as Bangkok at around 30-40,000. But there are so many great opportunities here in a rapidly advancing economy that with even half decent qualifications you can easily earn double that.

Phil's analysis and comment

Sounds like you are doing well James.  My sister-in-law opened a language school a good few years ago and I helped her as much as I could, but eventually it failed because of the poor location. In fact, the whole shopping complex failed to take off in the end. However, I bet a language school in China is a lucrative business if you can hit it right and it sounds like you and your partner have certainly done that. 

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