When it comes it comes to teaching English abroad this year, China is where it’s at. And guess what? No previous teaching experience or a teaching license is required!
With one of the fastest-growing ESL job markets in the world and over 300 million students currently learning English in China, there’s no shortage of awesome job opportunities out there for new grads with a degree in any major, as well as licensed teachers looking to make the big move overseas.
While in the past, cities like Beijing or Shanghai tended to be more popular spots for expat teachers, that’s quickly changing. That said, China’s a pretty big place. We know that researching and deciding where to teach abroad can feel a little overwhelming - with Teach Away’s Explore Program, for examples, hiring schools are located all over the country.
Over the next few weeks on the blog, we’ll be highlighting some of the top cities to teach English in China. From the average cost of a cup of tea to what you can expect to pay to rent an apartment, keep reading to discover everything you’ll need to know about living and working in China.
First up on the list is Tianjin - a bustling seaside urban center that’s full of cultural charm!
Living in Tianjin
As a major economic hub and cultural center in northern China, Tianjin is a modern port city with a growing expat community. Known for its great economic opportunities, and more laid-back lifestyle than neighboring Beijing, Tianjin is a perfect place to experience Chinese culture in a friendly and metropolitan city.
Tianjin is close to the ocean and has a relatively continental climate, experiencing a cool, dry winter and a hot, rainy summer. Average temperatures during the summer generally fall around 79 degrees Fahrenheit (26 degrees Celsius), while average temperatures in the winter are around 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 degrees Celsius).
Like many other urban centers in China, Tianjin has a number of different transportation options to choose from. Since driving in the city can be hazardous for non-locals, it’s recommended that you take advantage of the many other options that are offered.
Taxis. Taxis in Tianjin are generally easy to come by and flag down when in the downtown core and fares stay the same regardless of day or night.
One helpful tip - make sure you don’t get overcharged for longer distance trips like to and from the airport. Keep an eye on the meter to ensure you never overpay!
Taxi Cost (on average, incl. initial fee)
¥10 - ¥15 ($1.48 - $2.22 USD)
Trains. Tianjin is a major railway stop in northern China and has many lines running throughout the city, as well as to other locations. Tianjin Railway Station, the largest station in the city, also has bullet train services to and from Beijing.
The subway is a popular mode of transportation within the city, and lines run throughout the downtown core. Tianjin subway fares are based on distance and increase with the length of time you spend on the train. Expats from North America will find Tianjin transit fares much easier on the wallet than those back home.
Tianjin Subway Fares:
Less than 5 stops
¥2 ($0.30 USD)
6 - 10 stops
¥3 ($0.44 USD)
11 - 16 stops
¥4 ($0.59 USD)
¥5 ($0.74 USD)
Buses. For travel outside of the city, long-distance buses are available, making it easy to explore areas outside of the city during your spare time. Most of these buses travel to cities in other Chinese provinces such as Hebei, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, and Jiangxi.
City buses are also available downtown as an additional option to a taxi or the subway. The network of bus routes is extensive and can take you to all areas of the city. Inner city routes cover the downtown area of the city, while suburban lines will take you to areas outside the downtown core. There are even special sight-seeing buses if you want to sit back, relax and view some of Tianjin’s famous landmarks!
Inner-city bus lines
Suburban bus lines
As a multicultural city, Tianjin has a great mix of authentic Chinese restaurants as well as a large number of options from other global cuisines! Nanshi Food Street is a great spot to try traditional local dishes and some with a Western twist. Outdoor markets and vendors can be commonly seen during the summer months, and are generally less expensive than getting food from a restaurant. It may take some searching, but you can definitely find some hidden treasures that are inexpensive - and delicious!
Meal @ inexpensive restaurant
¥20 ($2.96 USD)
Meal @ mid-range restaurant for 2 people
¥120 ($17.77 USD)
¥30 ($4.44 USD)
Milk (1 liter)
¥11.40 ($1.69 USD)
1 Dozen Eggs
¥6 ($0.89 USD)
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Leisure & Entertainment
There is definitely no shortage of things to do in Tianjin, and most won’t cost you an outrageous amount of money either! Those living in Tianjin seem to prefer a much simpler life to those in other major cities. It’s common for people to spend the night walking outside or simply catching a meal with friends.
Fitness club/gym (monthly)
¥263.33 ($38.98 USD)
Movie ticket (single)
¥50 ($7.40 USD)
One drink at a downtown club/bar
¥50 ($7.42 USD)
Although a popular tourist spot, the Tianjin Eye offers some of the best views in the city and is worth the stop when you first arrive! The famous Great Wall is also close to Tianjin and is, of course, a must-see.
Since Tianjin is not a Chinese megacity, rent is generally less expensive than other major cities like Beijing or Hong Kong. Teachers looking to live in the downtown core should have a decent chance of finding more affordable living in Tianjin than neighboring Beijing.
One bedroom apartment (in the downtown area)
¥2,950 ($437.84 USD)
One bedroom apartment (outside of downtown area)
¥1,700 ($251.67 USD)
¥110.75 ($16.44 USD)
Thanks to the many job opportunities, friendly locals, a world-class transportation system and many western amenities, cities in China, like Tianjin, are quickly emerging a huge draw for new teacher arrivals looking to learn about a new culture, make some money to travel and experience life in one of the best countries to teach English in.
Interested in teaching English in China? Check back as we feature different cities across the country! Up next - Nanjing!