Here are a few of the frequently asked questions about living in China.
Money – What are RMB and Yuan? What is the exchange rate?
RMB stands for Ren Min Bi and it is the same thing as “Yuan”. These are the Chinese names for the currency in use. At the time of writing 6.51 (March 28, 2016) Chinese RMB (Yuan) is worth about 1 US dollar.
What is the apartment size?
They are all different depending on the city. They are typical Chinese apartments slightly above the norm. Some are more spacious than others and some are more modern. It all depends, so you would have to be talking to a specific City Manager to have answers to this.
Are the teacher apartments clustered? Are they within walking distance to the schools?
With few exceptions, apartments are located in residential neighborhoods and very much integrated with the Chinese community. Specific circumstances of the city you will be in contribute to where the school is able to rent or buy apartments. The goal is to get them as close to the school as possible, and usually this means walking distance. There are plenty of commute options including bicycles, electric bikes, public buses and taxis, all of which are relatively cheap and convenient.
Are apartments individual or shared? If the latter, how are assignments made?
Generally apartments are shared with other Aston teachers. We ask applicants their preference (smoking/non; male/female; old/young) and assign from there unless you specifically request a person you know.
Do schools act as an intermediary in all matters with the apartment owner or building supervisor?
Yes, Aston completely handles the renting of the apartment, repairs, and all utility procedures. However, if you throw a late night party and make your downstairs neighbors angry, we’ll have a hard time preventing them from yelling at you (or calling the police). Certain minor maintenance issues like cleaning out drains and changing light bulbs would be taken care of by yourself, as you would in your own home country. The school will obviously provide guidance as to where to buy what you need.
What is the average monthly cost for food?
You will likely eat out much more often while in China than you do in your home country. The food culture is one of the great things about living here. Even better, the costs of doing so are extremely low. Chinese food is extremely diverse, and eating out for lunch everyday, while enjoying banquet dinners with a group five nights a week can be done for less than 1500 RMB a month. Foreign foods (i.e. food items from the west) are considered exotic and will naturally cost more than local cuisine. Cooking at home a few nights a week can reduce these costs by half in no time.
What is needed to open a local bank account? Is it easy to transfer money back home?
Opening a local bank account is simple, safe, and all you need is your passport. China’s major cities all have Western Union offices making money transfer simple. Citibank is making inroads in China as well, making a direct transfer into a Citibank account in your home country simple and cheap.