Wondering what it's like to live annd teach English in Nanjing, China?
Welcome to the second installment of our blog series on living in China!
With an abundant supply of English teaching jobs all over the country, China is one of the best places - if not the best - to teach English abroad this year. China attracts both new and experienced ESL teachers as a teach abroad destination for many different reasons - the low cost of living, the potential to earn a great salary, access awesome job perks and - best of all - have more than enough vacation time to start ticking countries off your travel bucket list.
A few weeks ago, we covered all the basic info you need to know about living in Tianjin. To save you hours of online research, we’ve also compiled everything you need to know about living in Nanjing, below. From average monthly rent to the best spots for a night out, keep reading for more info on what you can expect living in the meeting place between China’s north and south - Nanjing!
Living in Nanjing
Located along the Yangtze River, Nanjing is a perfect blend of modern and traditional Chinese culture, famous for its rich ancient history as a capital city of many dynasties through the centuries. Today, Nanjing is seeing a huge increase in foreign business and infrastructure, making it culturally diverse and extremely expat friendly.
Pack your sunscreen - Nanjing is one of the hottest cities in China! Temperatures in the summer can reach up to between 95 to 14 degrees Fahrenheit (35 to 40 degrees Celsius). With average temperatures in the winter falling around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, you can expect a mild and warm weather during the cooler months. Despite the hot weather in Nanjing, if you plan on traveling outside of the area it’s a good idea to bring some warm clothes, especially if you are traveling north during the winter.
Nanjing is a major transportation cross-point between the northern and southern parts of China. Because of this, the city boasts a great transportation system with many different ways to get around the city and explore different locations outside of Nanjing’s downtown.
Trains. There are many options to get outside of Nanjing and travel to other areas of the country by train. Both regular and semi-high speed trains operate out of the Nanjing Railway Station. As well, the South Railway Station is a stop for high-speed trains in the city, that can take you to many other cities in China.
Buses. The bus is a common and effective method of transportation within Nanjing and surrounding cities. Long distance buses can take you to Shanghai, Beijing, Qingdao, Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and Yiwu from downtown Nanjing. This is a convenient option if you want to travel to different Chinese cities when school is out.
City buses within Nanjing operate on flexible schedules and can take you almost anywhere in the city. Fares for city buses are also affordable, at ¥1 ($0.15 USD), or ¥2 ($0.30 USD) for air conditioned buses, it’s easy to get around the city without spending a fortune!
Subways. Introduced in 2015, the Nanjing subway system is still relatively new. Currently, there are seven different lines running throughout the city, with several others under construction.
Taxis. Taking a taxi is also another common mode of transportation within Nanjing, and is an accessible option throughout the city. There are four types of taxis in Nanjing, each with different fares based on the type of vehicle and your distance traveled. Taxi rides, on average, shouldn't cost you more than ¥20 ($3 USD):
Type of Car
Price per km
5-minute waiting fee
¥9 for the first 3km (2mi)
¥2.4 ($0.36 USD)
¥9 for the first 2.5km (1.6mi)
¥2.9 ($0.43 USD)
Transport Smart Cards. While living in Nanjing, it may be a good idea to consider getting a Public Utility IC Card (PUIC) transport card. They’re ideal if you have to take multiple forms of transportation and get you special discounts, too.
A PUIC card gets you a 20% discount on city buses, 5% discount on subway lines, 50% discount on Zhongshan Pier Pukou ferries and a 10% discount on other ferries. If you plan on teaching in Nanjing, a transport card definitely makes exploring the city and surrounding areas far more cost effective.
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Known as the home of traditional Jiangsu cuisine, Nanjing is a city that is famous for its great culinary scene and locals that are true foodies at heart. The traditional dishes in Nanjing are known for their amazing presentation and rich ingredients.
Duck is a popular dish in the city and greater Jiangsu province. That being said, there are also many choices that won't set you back a huge sum of money, and with a little exploring, you’re sure to find some hidden local gems! From salted duck to soup dumplings (called Tangbao) you can buy for less than two dollars, the options for food in Nanjing won’t leave you bored.
Meal @ inexpensive restaurant
¥230 ($34.43 USD)
Meal @ mid- range restaurant for 2 people
¥140 ($20.96 USD)
¥30 ($4.44 USD)
Milk (1 liter)
¥14 ($2.10 USD)
1 dozen eggs
¥13 ($1.95 USD)
Leisure & Entertainment
Although it’s hard to compete with urban giants Beijing and Shanghai, the Nanjing still has a lot to offer for expats that want to experience the city and surrounding areas. Fuzimiao is a popular shopping district that’s close to downtown. Although you’re going to find a lot of westernized shops with marked-up prices to match, it’s still a great area to spend an afternoon on weekends or days off.
Xuanwu Lake is also a great place to explore during nice weather. The lake is a great spot to bring a book and relax, or escape from the rush of the city without leaving downtown.
While Nanjing’s nightlife will appeal more to those looking for a lower-key night out than the entertainment hotspot of Shanghai, there are still many options if you want to spend a night on the town! If you want expat-friendly bars, Shanghai Road is a popular area with lots of different bars and clubs. Drinks in Nanjing are relatively similar in cost to other mid-sized Chinese cities.
Fitness club/gym (monthly)
¥283.33 ($42.42 USD)
Movie ticket (single)
¥50 ($7.40 USD)
1 drink at a downtown club/bar
¥51 ($7.64 USD)
Teachers looking to live in Nanjing will find that renting an apartment, even downtown, is much more affordable than in larger cities. Living downtown will be most convenient for teachers coming to Nanjing by themselves, and who are looking to have easy access to business districts and shopping centers. Renting a small house, or larger apartment outside of the downtown core is definitely possible on a teacher’s salary.
Both the northern and eastern suburbs of Nanjing are known to be expat friendly and offer more than their fair share of affordable living options for teachers.
One bedroom apartment (in the downtown area)
¥3,133.33 ($469.11 USD)
One bedroom apartment (outside of downtown area)
¥2,016.67 ($251.67 USD)
¥60 ($16.44 USD)
Interested in teaching English in China? Check back on the blog next month for the lowdown on teaching and living in Hangzhou!