Article by XIANEASE
Money and budgeting is one of the things on most people’s minds. Whether it is due to a change a of jobs when the income is tight, or whether you are just trying to save as much as possible to send back home, many people will reach times when they need to pull down on the purse strings and really save some money. So all of this begs the question, how much does it cost to live minimally in Xi’an.
Before we begin, we need to establish some parameters for the experiment. First, all of the basic requirements need to be met – food, shelter, water, electricity, transportation. We can assume that the person planning on budgeting already has clothing, shoes, and a cell phone and computer. Third, we are not looking to create beggars or hermits, so there must also be a minimum of one social activity every 2 weeks, without the person relying on the charity of friends. Fourth, to avoid boredom, meals can only be repeated every third day. We also will assume that the average person is capable of preparing some simple meals, but will mostly be relying on food purchased outside.
Most of the time, the first suggestion that is given to people attempting to budget is to stop eating out and cook at home more. While this may be valid in some places in the world, food in China can be very cheap, and often the economies of scale in restaurants will beat out your own ability to efficiently make meals at home. This doesn’t necessarily apply to every meal, but your ability to eat out flexibly is more viable here than most places. This is also excluding the possibility of eating just instant noodles, as that would be bad for your health long term, though much cheaper per meal. This is also excluding going to bars, which falls under entertainment.
Rent ¥1500- ¥2300
While many jobs do provide some sort of housing, the housing often leaves something to be desired, not to mention the fact that your housing would also be tied to your job, meaning that if you were to leave your job or your company were to close its doors unexpectedly, you would be out of a place to live. Obviously, if you are trying to live as cheaply as possible, there are extremely cheap options available in some parts of the city, but you might end up coming home to find your apartment has been cleaned out.
Rent varies across the city, and everyone has different tolerances on what is acceptable, but for this category, we decided that the apartment should be relatively clean, furnished, and close to a subway line for ease of transportation. We also looked at options for apartments if you are living alone, or with roommates.
The averages for August of 2021 are:
Transportation Free – ¥120
Public transportation is both ubiquitous and cheap in Xi’an, meaning that getting around is generally affordable. And while taxis and Didi are also readily available, they can run anywhere from 4 to 10 times more expensive than the alternative, so we will exclude them as a mode of transportation. There are also public bikes, as well as a personal transportation options, such as a personal bike or walking. Your transportation needs will depend the distance between your work and home.
Entertainment ¥700- ¥900
Entertainment and budgeting don’t seem to go hand in hand very well, as entertainment is one of the first places that people start to cut when it comes to budgeting. However, without the usual family and support structures available to people back home, going out is one of the few ways to meet new people and build the relationships that make life a little less boring. That being said, there are ways to squeeze a bit more out of your buck. Apps such as Dianping (大众点评) will be your friend, as they can help you nab some sweet discounts.
Cheapest Total ¥3,044
For ¥ 3,044, that covers your basic needs – food, rent, utilities, two dinners with friends (100RMB Limit) and two movies per month. You can obviously spend much more than this if you have the means to do so, and much less, especially if your rent is covered by your company, but if you are want to know what the minimum that you can get by on is, this is pretty close to what you can do. So if saving is your goal, then this is one way that you can reach those spending goals.
Do you think you can live cheaper? If so, how? Let us know your advice by contacting us at our official WeChat account or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.