How much money should I take with me when I come to China as a newcomer? How should I transfer money back to my own country?


Recently, I have found many ESL teachers sending me emails about the money they should take with them when they come to China.


I would recommend that ESL teachers should take at least $1,000 with them. If your benefit package doesn’t include free apartment or include housing allowance, you need to prepare money to pay the rent. In China, you need to pay at least four months, which is including three months rent and one-month deposit.  About the housing allowance, the school usually will pay you not at the beginning of the contract according to your contract.


ESL teachers also can withdraw money from their bankcards. They can bring their bankcard from their own countries and use it in the Chinese ATM. However, there are charges occurring when you take money from the Chinese ATM. You’d better figure out the fee the bank charges when you take money from another country.


ESL teachers can take their own countries’ money to China and exchange it to RMB in China. If you’re afraid that the currency is not very good in your countries, you can change a little bit in your country and exchange other in China. Some foreigners may like to exchange their money to dollars, and then take it to China.


If the school you are working with provides free apartment for you, you’d better take some money with you too. Since the salary will pay at the end of month, you need some money to make you live for a month.


In conclusion, if the school doesn’t provide free apartment for you, you’d better take $2,000 with you. If the school offers free apartment, you still need to take $1,000 with you. Remember to take some money in case that you may need it.


After ESL teachers have started to teach english in China, they may have a concern about how to transferring money to their own countries. I have gotten many emails asking me that how to transfer money back to my own country and whether it’s easy to wire money back.  I’m going to talk about the money transfer from China to other countries.


First, I would recommend ESL teachers to apply for a Chinese bankcard, when they get their Z-visa. Since Most ESL teachers’ salary is over 10,000RMB, if it’s cash, it will be a lot. Therefore, salary transferred to bankcard should be much easier.

Many ESL teachers have known that most people prefer to make payment by Alipay or Wechat rather than cash, which is very convenient and easy. Most ESL teachers have the experience to use Alipay and Wechat, too. If you have a Chinese bankcard, you can keep and withdraw money from Alipay and Wechat too.


As far as I know, if ESL teachers work legally in China, they can apply to a bankcard in a Chinese bank. They can use this bankcard to transfer money back to their own countries. There are transfer fees and maximum transfer money varying from banks.


Since the wire fees may occurs twice for one person, if someone transfers money to his/her own account in other countries. Some foreigners may find their Chinese friends who they trust to send money for them.  In this way, they can save some transfer fee.  For Chinese, they can send 50,000RMB for one year. If you can find some trust friends, it’s a good way to wire money back to your own country.


If you transfer money back to the United States, you can open a bank account at US bank.  There is a bank trust between Chinese bank and US bank.  It’s free for three transfers under $500 from China to US bank. If they wire more than three time or transfer money over $500, you need to pay the wire fee. Therefore, before coming to China, ESL teachers can open a US bank account and keep the account active, If you have trust friends or family members, you can send money their US bank accounts too.


PayPal is also an option to transfer money to other countries.  PayPal also has transfer fee when you transfer money to others. Since there are different PayPal rules among countries, ESL teachers may be able to not add two different countries’ bank information at PayPal. ESL teachers may need to transfer money to other person’s account.


Western Union is also an option to transfer money back to your own countries. The maximum is $7,500 one time transferring from China to countries other than South Africa.  For Western Union, ESL teachers need go to agricultural bank of China, which is the only bank that western union works with in China. Moreover, western union only takes dollars. Therefore, if you want to transfer money through Western Union, you’d better change your money to dollars first.  However, you need to find someone to accept money for you in your own countries.


No matter which way ESL teachers choose to send money back to their countries, they need to figure out the wire fees and safety first.  Then, they can compare with each other to see which one is the best.  Some of my friends will deposit their money in China when they are working here. Then, when they decide to return to their countries, they send the money back together. Generally, the more money you transfer, the less wire fee the bank charges. I think it’s a good idea.


I have some advice at last. To make some Chinese friends or learn some Mandarin, your life will be much easier in China.