If you have been following along with my story you know I live and work in China. I have been working here for six years and I can safely say i enjoy it.
However, if there is one thing that most people know about working in China is that in fact you don’t earn much more than what you do back home. However there is something that most people overlook when talking about working in China and I will break these points down into parts to show you how I SAVED over 20k in the space of 18 months, and continue to do so now.
1. The biggest false turn off is Salary.
In China an average Foreign English speaking teacher will earn between 8 and 15 thousand RMB a month (1,194-2,238 USD.) This would be considered a normal or low income back home ( even though i am Australian so its roughly the same.) Alternately in China that salary is considered to be in the top 1% of high income earners! An average Chinese workers salary in my city is 2000 RMB ($298USD) per month!
2. Housing in China is usually provided.
When you sign a contract with a school or company, you are usually provided with a fully furnished, usually very nice, apartment close to your work place. coupled with your salary, having no rent to pay makes the savings much easier. If its not provided you may be given a housing allowance on top of your base salary.
3. Free time is in abundance if you want to do side projects.
In China if you work for a training school, usually your contract is between 20 and 30 hours a week with most of the work on weekends ( like me) which means I usually have between 3 and 4 DAYS off! I use this time to play with my babies, craft and go sit in coffee shops to blog.
4. The biggest saving factor is the cost of living.
After my initial set up of a slow cooker, toaster oven, rice cooker, internet provider and television service I had no other big purchases to make. I shop like a local at the fruit and vegie market to save a bit more and get my specialty items, aka cheese, from the supermarket in town.
Overall, My expenditures don’t exceed 2000 a month and that’s with me spending money on entertainment and my coffees weekly. Every week i spend 3-500 yuan worth of groceries and don’t pinch my pennies, I still save money.
5. With private tutoring I could potentially earn an extra 10k on the side.
I don’t personally do private tutoring anymore since I changed from a weekday job to a weekend one, but when I was working at the university I would take 8 private students spread out over Saturday and Sunday. I would charge them 200 yuan an hour for a saving increase of 6,400RMB a month which equals an extra 1000 USD saved.
6. How much did I spend to get to China in the first place?
To get started I had to find a job that looked attractive. I researched potential schools long before I contacted them. I knew I fulfilled the requirements for a teacher and could basically pick and choose which schools I wanted to work for, however I had heard some horror stories about Chinese bosses I wanted to avoid. I chose a middle ground Salary with a big name training chain school, Aston English. My choice was down to the fact they are more likely to stick to contracts conditions and have a great networking base with other foreigners.
From beginning of communication to when I arrived in China I spent about 1000 Australian dollars. Most of that money was spent on getting the medical certificate filled, the airplane ticket to China ( which is reimbursed) and travel costs between home and Melbourne to get the visa.
All of this was spread out over 4 months as I fulfilled all the painstaking steps to get my visa. After arrival I spent a small amount of cash on setting up my home and to tide me over until first pay.
So If you put this all together you can see how over the space of 18 months I managed to save over 20k, which I used to put a deposit on a house, get it fully furnished, traveled back home once a year and bought my own training school! Just imagine if you had two people working! Your savings would be through the roof!
Are you interested in working in China, or if you want more detailed and clear descriptions of life in China don’t be afraid to leave me a comment!