Teachers often ask us whether the earning potential in China makes it worth considering as a place to live and work. Obviously, this is a subjective question, and our advisers will likely answer by asking some in return: each teacher will have different parameters to consider.

There is no doubt, however, that salaries in China can be some of the best in the world, and if all the right factors align, it is possible to earn, and save, a significant amount of money as a teacher in China.

Teacher Savings at Dulwich College in China

David Ingram, Founding Head of College, Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi tells us that his ‘teachers are sending a significant amount of cash back each month and each year, and that’s what differentiates China from other parts of the world… The majority of our teachers have a really good standard of living here and manage to save for the future.

Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi
The main building at Dulwich College Shanghai Puxi

The salary at Dulwich is competitive, and the package is excellent: staff are given the use of a laptop and full use of the amazing sporting and leisure facilities. The school uses an international health care scheme with SOS support, they offer a gratuity after two years, and they cover free school fees for up to two children at the College.

Professional development at Dulwich College, China

One huge benefit of teaching at one of the Dulwich campuses is the commitment they have to professional development, something David describes as the ‘centrepiece’ of the Dulwich teaching experience. Each teacher has an allocation of $500 per year to spend on PD, but the benefits of professional development are hard to quantify in financial terms and can be priceless as teachers aim to advance their careers.

David explained that there are three strands of professional development at Dulwich College schools. Teachers collaborate to develop at a ‘college’ level, unifying to consider how to implement the most up-to-date pedagogical strategies in classrooms across all campuses. Their current focus is Julie Stern’s theories about conceptual understanding in the curriculum.

They also offer leadership pathways: the Accelerated Middle Leaders Programme and the Aspire Senior Leaders Programme. The idea behind these is to equip teachers to grow into a career within the group via really bespoke training.

Finally, they have what David calls ‘Key Hygiene Training’ around safeguarding and Trip Leader Training to make sure that teachers are up to date with all the latest health and safety requirements.

The real bonus of teaching within a school group like Dulwich is the opportunity to collaborate digitally, and therefore work with, and learn from, colleagues right around the world who are part of the family. Faculty members are encouraged to reflect on the genuine feedback they get from the huge data set collected from all the partnership schools.

David concludes therefore that a teacher’s professional life in China is a ‘rich and rewarding one’

So we’re convinced that China is worth considering, but, as with anywhere in the world, managing your finances wisely is essential to ensure you not only save money but also make the most of your time in this diverse and vibrant country. 

China landscape

How to save money as a teacher in China…

If you find yourself teaching in a major city in China, you will be afforded the chance to choose how you live. For example, David explains that ‘Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city … so you can live high-end luxury or you can live down the local market and that’s going to cost you proportionately’.

Here are a few other things to consider in an effort to save money as a teacher in China:

Housing Choices

Housing is often one of the biggest expenses for international teachers. While some schools provide accommodation, others offer a housing allowance. To save money, consider shared housing or renting an apartment in a less expensive neighbourhood. Websites like Lianjia and Ziroom are popular platforms for finding affordable rentals.

Public Transport

China boasts an extensive public transportation network that is both efficient and budget-friendly. In major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou, subway systems are not only convenient but also cost-effective. Invest in a metro card or a transportation pass, and you’ll find commuting to and from work a breeze.

Food Choices

Chinese cuisine is delicious and diverse, but dining out every day can quickly deplete your funds. Opt for local street food, which is not only tasty but also very affordable. Additionally, cooking at home can save you a significant amount of money, as grocery prices are reasonable, and markets are readily available.

Language Skills

Learning basic Mandarin or the local dialect can help you negotiate better deals, understand prices, and interact with locals more effectively. Consider enrolling in language classes or using language learning apps to improve your communication skills.

Budgeting and Saving

Create a monthly budget to track your expenses and savings goals. Set aside a portion of your salary in a savings account to build an emergency fund or save for future travels.

Nightlife in China

… and how to spend it!

Travel Opportunities

One of the most exciting aspects of living in China is its accessibility to a wide range of travel destinations. Use your savings to explore the country’s rich history and culture by visiting iconic landmarks like the Great Wall, Terracotta Warriors, or the picturesque Li River. Additionally, China’s central location in Asia makes it an excellent base for exploring neighbouring countries like Japan, South Korea, and Southeast Asian destinations.

Language and Cultural Classes

Invest in yourself by taking language and cultural classes. Learning the local language and understanding Chinese culture on a deeper level will enrich your experience and foster a deeper connection with your surroundings.

Professional Development

Many international teachers come to China to gain valuable teaching experience. You can further enhance your professional skills by attending conferences, workshops, and seminars. Use some of your savings to invest in your teaching career.

Local Experiences

China offers a multitude of local experiences, such as traditional tea ceremonies, calligraphy lessons, martial arts classes, and more. These immersive activities not only enrich your understanding of Chinese culture but also provide a unique way to spend your money.

Panda bear in China

Travel Beyond China

Save for your future adventures beyond China. Whether you dream of exploring Europe, touring South America, or embarking on a global adventure, your time in China can serve as a financial stepping stone towards meeting these aspirations.

Gifting and Charity

Consider allocating a portion of your savings to give back to the local community or support causes that matter to you. Philanthropy is an excellent way to leave a positive impact on the people and places that have hosted you during your time in China.

Dulwich is committed to supporting local charities and local enterprises. Currently, they are partnering with LUÜNA I Certified B Corp, a woman-led social enterprise with a mission to advance gender equality by building a more inclusive world for all people with periods.

Great wall of China

One thing is for sure, the teachers we have placed in China tell us often of their rich and colourful lives, growing as educators and as individuals in equal measure. We hope you will consider China as an option for your next chapter as an international educator, and we are here to talk through your options – just reach out to your adviser if you have questions about a particular school.

These links on our website will also help you in your research.

Teaching in China

Teaching in Shanghai

Teaching in Beijing

Teaching in Guangzhou

Teaching in Chengdu

Teaching in Suzhou

Teaching in Guangdong

Current teaching jobs in China


Zhù nǐ hǎo yùn!

(Good luck!)

travel in China
photo of author
Written by Camilla Cook
Camilla has been working in education for the past sixteen years, teaching English in the UK, El Salvador, Thailand, and Tanzania. She participated in the Teach First Programme in 2005, and went on to support another Teach First teacher in her efforts to set up The Literacy Pirates, an education charity working to develop the literacy, confidence, and perseverance of young people referred for extra support by their teachers. As their first Director of Learning, she was responsible for planning, leading, and evaluating the learning programmes. She has worked as the Head of Language and Literature in international schools for the past five years, and is now living in Brighton with her husband and two children, attempting to reacclimatise to the weather by cycling around as much as possible and eating lots of ice cream.
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