Over the past decade, China’s steady road towards modernization has improved social welfare, hence a higher cost of living. As we take a closer look at the detrimental effects of COVID-19, it is evident that many people have struggled to stay afloat-especially expats. Some lost their jobs, some saw their businesses losing money, and some ate through their savings. Despite this once-in-a lifetime “roadblock,” there are still ways you can be smart about your money. From adopting new income streams to maximizing your (cheaper) online shopping experience, here are 10 ways to save money in China.
USE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
Trains in China have been improving rapidly, becoming more accessible, reliable and time-saving. Whether you are traveling across provinces or cities, China boasts the highest number of metro systems globally. Dongguan itself has one main underground line with 15 stations, running between Shilong and Humen, and another one in the making. For inter-city travel, other than railways, learning the bus routes can be incredibly beneficial.
If you have a daily destination, such as from your house to the workplace, it is important to check out the bus system via the Maps app. It will quickly show you the number of stops between two locations, the closest bus stations, and the number of minutes it may take for you to arrive. Another convenient option is bike-sharing with Hellobike (Alibaba), Meituan Bike (Meituan Delivery) and Qingju Bike (DiDi). By scanning the QR code, the bike unlocks, and the timer starts. For each bike company, it is roughly 1.5 RMB for 30 minutes.
DINE AND DRINK WITH PROMOTIONS
SHOP ON TAOBAO AND SECOND-HAND APPS
STOCK UP DURING CHINESE SHOPPING FESTIVALS
FOCUS ON IN-PATIENT COVERAGE FOR HEALTH INSURANCE
RENT YOUR APARTMENT UPTOWN
EAT LOCAL FOOD
Western food is expensive, so only have it occasionally. Alternatively, local Chinese food is cheaper and extremely delicious. As seen with the loyal Chinese crowd that consistently dine at these restaurants, these dishes provide intense flavors that can easily satisfy. In addition, the locals eat their dishes with rice, which is inexpensive. For many expats, eating at a local Chinese restaurant can be an exciting new experience—and an excellent way to stay within your budget.
The second option is to cook at home if you can. Remember to grocery shop for ingredients at your local Chinese supermarket; compared to western supermarkets, the prices for fruits, vegetables and meat are 10% to 30% less.
BOOK LOCAL ACCOMMODATION WHEN TRAVELING
Using Airbnb, Tujia or Xiaozhu, these handy home-sharing apps in China can be a money-saving option compared to hotel rooms. Budget travelers can book these accommodations for lower prices. There are profiles, ratings and reviews on the apps to ensure that the housing is safe and reliable. Moreover, the experience is undoubtedly a lot more fun and interesting. There is often more space fit for family vacations or large gatherings than smaller and costly hotel accommodations. If you want to visit a more remote location during your travels, there may not be hotels nearby. Home-sharing places, however, are usually private homes that may be closer to unique destinations.
SWITCH TO CHINESE BRANDS
Western brands such as Gucci or Rolex have always been the center of consumer interest. Due to Chinese consumers’ fixation with objects that portray their wealth and worldliness, they tend to purchase staple products locally (e.g., food, beer) but opt to shop at Western brands for luxury items. As China’s economy advances and prospers, local Chinese brands and their products have also improved immensely in quality and sophistication. Today, consumers can purchase a high-quality product for a cheaper price with Chinese brands, contrasted to high-priced Western brands. For instance, instead of buying the new Apple iPhone, take a chance on Xiaomi smartphones. The rise in demand for Xiaomi products has made this Chinese brand the world’s third-largest smartphone supplier. Without a doubt, shopping at Chinese brands is the ultimate way to cut costs and stay trendy.
CREATE MULTIPLE STREAMS OF INCOME
Other income sources can include finding freelance jobs on LinkedIn or Indeed, selling items on Taobao or Xianyu, managing social media accounts for businesses, placing a spare room or an apartment for rent via Airbnb, and many more options.