Cost of Living in Hángzhōu



In spite of being one of the wealthiest cities in China, Hángzhōu never gets the limelight in the annual lists of the most expensive cities in the world for expats to live in.

It remains to be a cheaper alternative to its neighboring cities, namely, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Guǎngzhōu. 

But, do not be quick to connect this affordability to low quality of living. In fact, Mastercard named Hángzhōu as one of the 65 key cities from emerging markets in the world in 2008. 


For its prime location and peaceful ambience, most expats prefer to reside in downtown Hángzhōu. On the other hand, expats who brought their families are mostly clustered in Pudong New Area and Hongquiao Area. The villa properties in such area are very near to international schools like American School and SIS. 

There are plenty of housing options for expats in Hángzhōu. You can visit Hangzhou Pathouse, Expat CN, Hangzhou Home

According to a research by Expat Explorer in 2009, China, together with Malaysia and India, offers the cheapest accommodation rates for expats worldwide. A decent apartment costs less than CNY 1,000 (US$146.39) monthly while a fully-furnished studio apartment less than CNY 2,000 (US$292.78) monthly.

Upon agreement, landlords would charge a security deposit for 1-3 months and service charges which gets refunded at the end of the term without interest. Most properties include club membership and management fees in the rent pay. Service charge, on the other hand, covers maintenance, use of facilities, security and cleaning of the common areas and base building systems. 

Some landlords in serviced apartments pay for the utilities. Otherwise, they separate the occupant's meters and charge them. 


Hángzhōu cuisine prominently makes use of pork and seafood. Meals in budget restaurants start at CNY 6-18 (US$0.88-2.64) for a serving of dumplings and vegetables. If you are in the mood to celebrate with friends or reward yourself, dinner in a high-end Chinese restaurant costs about CNY 200 (US$29.28) per person. The established restaurants in Hángzhōu are Lou Wai Lou (the most famous and has been in service for 150 years), Oriental Favorites Restaurant and Hubin 28. 

Should craving for one's comfort food becomes too impossible to ignore, there is a long list of familiar diners to run to like fast-food brands such as Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), McDonald's, Pizza Hut and others located within the city. Japanese, Indian, Southeast Asian, French, Italian, Mediterranean restaurants are also available. 


Hángzhōu's bus network allows you to get around and get to far-reaching destinations. It would be beneficial to be able to read Chinese for hassle-free daily commutes. Buses with Y before a number (eg. Y2, Y5) denote tourist buses, locally known as "youke", ranges from CNY 35 (US$0.44-0.72). Buses with just a number charges CNY 1-5 (US$0.15-0.72) while air-conditioned ones (buses with K before a number) CNY 2-4 (US$0.29-0.59) and night buses start at CNY 2.5 (US$0.37). Payment should be made to the box beside the driver. Make sure to prepare exact amount as no change is provided. 

Taxis in  Hángzhōu are everywhere, but do not count on them during holidays and tourist weeks like Chinese New Year and National Day. Taxis are in turquoise-green color and with TAXI printed in both English and Chinese. Taxi drivers charge a flat rate of CNY 10 (US$1.46) for any destination under 3 km plus CNY 1 (US$0.15) for fuel tax as required by law. Taxi drivers provide receipts. 

The waterbus only makes five trips per day, the earliest trip is at 7:30AM and latest at 6PM. The cost starts at CNY 3 (US$0.44). 

To avoid the city gridlock, most expats take pleasure in the cheap and extensive public bike system. To rent a bike, one must pay for a stored value card at 20 Longxiang Qiao by presenting your passport or any valid ID and pay CNY 300 (US$43.92); CNY 200 (US$29.28) for deposit and the remainder as rental fee. Bikes must be returned by 8PM. However, these bikes may prove to be a challenge for any user taller than 6 feet. 

In a nutshell, employment in Hángzhōu offers highly satisfactory paycheck and very affordable lifestyle. Assuming you guard your finances well, equally satisfactory savings will be attained.



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