Budgeting for a move to China.

In the near future, I am planning on moving to China for the purpose of learning Mandarin and experiencing the culture.

Budgeting is a tricky thing. You have to be able to adequately plan for the future and guesstimate costs. Even moving to a new city inside the United States can be very tricky. How do you find a job? How can you find a place to live? Is it the right neighborhood? How do you get all your stuff there?

I plan on going to China to study for about a year. I'll probably move to one of the less expensive schools I discussed here. We'll use Jilin University in Changchun as an example.

Recurring monthly costs:

  • Food: I figure 45 RMB per day per person should be mostly adequate. This works out to about 1,350 RMB per month.
  • Housing: From discussing it with people familiar with the area, I believe I could rent a moderate quality apartment for 800 RMB a month.
  • Utilities: Since it's the frozen north, I figure 400 RMB per month may be enough.
  • Transportation: I'm guesstimating something like 10 RMB per day for travel within China, or 300 RMB per month.
  • Other: I figure I'll need another 700 RMB a month for incidentals.

    Total recurring expenses: 3,550 RMB per month

    One time expenses:

  • Getting there: A one way airline ticket will probably cost in the neighborhood of $500 x 2 = $1,000. Figure the cost of getting to Changchun from Beijing at another $150 each way. Total cost = $1,300
  • Student visa: An X visa seems to cost something in the range of $50. I'm a little vague about this, so we'll say $100.
  • Tuition: Jilin University costs 16,000 RMB for a year of study.
  • Other: For furniture, bedding, other travel costs, etc - $1,500

    Total one time expenses:: $2,900 + 16,00 RMB

    Coming home:

    I figure I will be able to store what little possesions I need to keep with family in a nearby state. Everything else I will sell or dump. I probably will keep my car, but this means the connected expenses of finding a place to store it and insuring it. So perhaps I will get rid of it as well. With a little help, I figure $5,000 will probably be enough to get started back up when I return to the states (find a job, get an apartment, etc).

    Total return expenses:: $5,000

    Notice that I didn't convert from RMB to dollars yet? That's because I'm concerned about the possibility that the RMB will keep appreciating against the dollar. We'll run with my projected exchange rate from that post of 6.9 RMB to the dollar.

    Recurring expenses: 3,550 x 12 = 42,600 RMB / 6.9 = $6,173.91 USD
    One time expenses: $2,900 USD + 16,000 CNY / 6.9 = $2,900 + $2,318.84 = $5,218.84
    Returning expenses: $5,000.00 USD

    Total cost: $16,392.75

    Add a margin of safety for unknowns of 20%, and it'll be just about $20,000.