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Currency and Cost of Living

China - Currency and Cost of Living


The Chinese currency is called Renminbi, abbreviated to RMB, which consists of yuan, jiao and fen. Ten jiao make up one yuan, and 10 fens make up one jiao. The term "kuai" is often used instead of yuan, and jiao are usually called "mao" in spoken Chinese. The word "fen" is usually dropped when referring to an amount of money, i.e. 2.55 RMB would be 2 kuai, 5 mao, 5.

There are around 8 yuan to one US dollar (Nov 2005). The Renminbi is not traded on international money markets.

Money is issued in notes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, and 100 yuan, and as 1 yuan coins. There are also notes for 1, 2, 5 jiao, and 5 and 1 jiao coins. Fen are issued as coins.

China can be quite an expensive location for expatriates. China's main cities are reported as being among the most expensive in the world for housing rental, and international education fees are also very high. There are reports of top-range apartments in Beijing being rented for nearly 10,000 US dollars per month. There are also an increasing number of expensive restaurants in the main cities. Overall, however, the cost of living is still lower than in the west, and it is possible to live quite cheaply depending on your lifestyle. The cost of living is cheaper in western China than in the eastern cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Qingdao and Guangzhou.

Many expatriates live cheaply in China, as their employment contracts include free or subsidized housing, and sometimes subsidized staff restaurants and social facilities. Free health care is also often included in contracts.

The cost of food is quite low in China, although imported products, when available, are much more expensive. There are increasing numbers of supermarkets selling imported food. Local restaurants serve meals for around US$1 per head.

It is cheap to hire domestic help, with a live-in housekeeper or cook available for a few hundred yuan per month. It is also very cheap to buy locally-produced clothing and shoes, although sometimes difficult to find sizes which fit westerners. Locally produced electrical goods are also cheap but of relatively poor quality.


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