Working in China

One of the world’s oldest civilizations is one of the world’s most powerful industries today. Moving to China attracts expatriates for economic opportunities as well as the cultural experience. Today, moving to China is not a distant dream, but a sudden reality for many people. China offers excellent opportunities for those interested in teaching English in China. The English language market is growing fast in China, and many new positions are becoming available. China is emerging as a global financial force, and with English firmly established as the global language of commerce, improving English competency amongst China’s citizens is a major focus for the Chinese government and there is a cry out for English teachers.

What can you expect living and working in China?

Typically teaching in China will take place at private language schools, public schools, International Baccalaureate schools, or private international schools. Teachers entering into these Chinese teaching jobs can expect a competitive salary, which includes a variety of benefits, depending on the type of school. It should be kept in mind that salaries in China are lower than in other parts of Asia, but the cost of living is much lower as well, so teachers should expect to save a significant portion of their salary.

Teachers should note that some jobs in China have contracts that are known to change once the teacher arrives. At Teach and Explore we make sure that any schools we work with are carefully screened and recognized by the government.

Full time teaching positions that combine teaching hours and office hours will add up to around 40 hours a week. Teachers will make between $1,600USD and $3,400USD per month, with many schools throwing in added perks such as free housing, free flights and contract completion bonuses.

Money in China

Currency – Chinese Yuan Renminbi. Click here for a currency converter.

How often do you get paid?

You get paid monthly.

How do I get a Bank Account?

One of the first things you will need to do as an English teacher living in China is open a local bank account. Fortunately, doing so requires no more effort than opening a bank account at home.

Start by selecting a bank. Bank of China, Agricultural Bank of China and ICBC are three of the best. They are secure, offer good interest rates and convenient services to wire transfer money back home. Opening an account with US Dollars will require between $100 and $500. You can also start an account with a low amount of Renminbi (RMB-Chinese currency). Bring a valid passport, your visa and, if available, a residence permit. Other forms of identification should not be necessary. Your school may also provide assistance when setting up a bank account and will also directly deposit your monthly paycheck into that account.

How much can I save in China?

Most Ex-Pats come to save money and travel with the cost of living so low in China most teachers can save up to 50% of their Salary.

How much money will I need to come over to the China?

Your flights over to China will already be covered so you do not need to worry about this expense. As with any job you will need to work for a month before you get paid. We would recommend coming with between $1000 and $2500.

getting around china

The timid expat’s first rule is: Do not drive. A few companies have even outlawed driving for their expat employees living in China.


For expats living in China for a short time only, taking a cab is the preferred method of transportation. In Beijing, licensed taxis have license plates that start with B. They often have a flashlight on top or a small shield stating TAXI in the window. Most taxis in Shanghai are brightly colored, with different hues distinguishing the cab companies. However, officially licensed cabs require an illuminated vacancy disk on the dashboard. No matter where you are: Make sure the taximeter is switched on at the start of your ride. Some drivers charge whatever they want and take advantage of unsuspecting foreigners living in China.

Public Transport

After a while, you may also take advantage of the numerous buses, trolley buses, and metro lines in the “Big Three”. However, while public transport is cheap, buses in particular may be overcrowded and sometimes lacking in heating or air-conditioning. If you decide to take the train from one Chinese city to another, don’t be a penny-pincher! If you value privacy, convenience, and comfort, make sure to buy a first-class or deluxe ticket.

One last tip: No matter which form of public transport you use, always take the address of your destination with you, e.g. on a business card printed in Chinese characters. Even in Beijing or Shanghai, many taxi drivers do not speak English. As a foreigner, you probably won’t get the pronunciation of the Chinese place name right, either.

Socialising in China

If you are living in one of the cities there is no shortage of things to do. Most cities have a thriving nightlife scene. You will find a number of traditional tea houses, coffee shops, theatre shows, discos, fashionable nightclubs, trendy pubs, and exclusive bars.

For a westerner, this is the perfect way to welcome the night, as it provides a great opportunity to relax and rejuvenate after a long day of sightseeing. For those who enjoy live performances, there are many clubs and bars offering these options too. Taking in many of the historical sites is not just for vacations as with the ease of transport it can simply be done after school for a bit of relaxation.

Regardless of what your tastes are, you can be sure that you will enjoy China’s social life.

Take Your Career on an Adventure