An increasing number of people belonging to the current generations of baby boomers are planning to retire early and settle in non-traditional retirement destinations. For people who want to settle abroad, it is very important that they visit their preferred destination and try experiencing its lifestyle before actually shifting to that place. This is necessary as it is only after living in a place that one gets to know and understand the local culture, attitudes, and the general way of life.
One place to retire in Asia that you may not have considered in China. China features a very low cost of living compared to the United States. If you want to maintain a high standard of living in retirement, you may want to take a look at retiring in China.
With globalization, the world has become a global village and physical boundaries that divide countries have diminished considerably. Once a closed communist state, China has opened its doors for foreign investment and has now transformed itself into an economic and political superpower in Asia as well as the rest of the world.
With many renowned strategists predicting China to be the next superpower, people as well as companies have started flocking to the country for gaining an early advantage and becoming a part of the overall growth process. Whether it is the sophisticated city of Shanghai or a remote countryside village, China offers plenty of retirement options that suit the tastes and preferences of different types of individuals. Retirees do not have to worry about modern amenities and services, as these are easily available; the best part is that these are available at much cheaper rates compared to costs in the United States.
Cost of living in China
Overall, the cost of living in China is certainly less as compared to the U.S., but living in trendier cities such as Hong Kong or Shanghai may be a bit costly. In such big cities, spending a night in a four-star hotel will cost around $150 U.S., and a decent three star hotel will cost around $90 U.S. However, rooms for $30 to $40 dollars per night are also available in such cities. A meal in a top-notch Chinese restaurant can cost around $30 dollars U.S., whereas a meal in an average Chinese restaurant can cost around $4 to $6 U.S. Beer in clubs and bars costs around $4 to $6 dollars U.S., whereas beer cartons can be purchased from corner shops for $40 to $50. Small mineral water bottles are available for 25 cents and a 36-color exposure film roll costs around $7 to $9. Taxis cost around $4 to $8, depending on the destination. The cheapest mode of transport is probably the subway system, costing just 36 cents U.S. per trip.
Food – Eating Chinese Cuisine
Chinese cuisine is famous all over the world and a meal usually consists of rice, noodles or steamed buns, served along with accompanying dishes of vegetables, fish or meat. Wheat-based products such as noodles and steamed buns are predominantly eaten in northern areas whereas rice is used mainly in the southern regions of China. Most Chinese dishes have small bite-sized pieces of vegetables or meat that can be easily picked up with chopsticks. Fish is cooked and served whole in order to enhance the taste and keep the flavors intact.
The number of vegetarians in China is less as compared to other neighboring Asian countries, and one may be surprised to know that many popular vegetable dishes actually contain chunks of meat for adding flavor. Desserts are served during the course of the meal without making any firm distinctions between courses; and even if a dessert is served at the end of the meal, it usually consists of sliced oranges or sweet soup made from red beans and sugar.
Airports in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai provide access to main cities of every province and autonomous regions within China and to most of the important foreign cities around the world. An average person residing in a city or town uses a bicycle for going to work or just for traveling around for leisure. Motorbikes are also one of the most preferred modes of transportation in big cities and towns. China has an extensive network of highways and roads, totaling around 1.117 million miles, offering a cheap mode of transportation to its citizens. The railroad system is well developed, with rail lines stretching more than 35,000 miles and connecting virtually every part of the country and all the major cities. Most of the big cities have subway systems that provide hassle free and cheap transportation to city dwellers. You can get a real time sense of what it costs to travel by train and check the China Train Schedule
Medical facilities in big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and others are comparable to the best hospitals available in the U.S., with many hospitals having permanent international medical staff. Most of the big hospitals feature modern medical technology and have physicians who are both knowledgeable and skilled. Hospitals with special VIP wards offer advanced medical services to non-native citizens and have doctors and nurses who are fluent in English. Some of the big hospitals in China are Beijing United Family Hospital, Beijing Friendship Hospital, Hong Kong Adventist Hospital, and Peking Union Medical Center.
Credit cards are accepted in almost all the major hospitals in big cities and towns. Although medical facilities are quite good in China, people of foreign origin may sometimes to encounter difficulties due to cultural and regulatory differences. There have been cases where the medical staff has refused to provide American patients with the copies of their hospital medical records, including laboratory investigation reports, scans, and x-rays. Ambulances very often do not carry sophisticated medical equipment and may take some time to arrive. As compared to medical facilities in big cities, rural areas only provide rudimentary medical amenities, often available with limited medical equipment and medications.
Finding a home, be it a rented accommodation or your own, is not a problem in China as the government has launched a number of affordable housing schemes to cater to the housing needs of its billion plus population. Property rates vary depending on the region and locality. Currently, the government is trying to cool down the real estate market by lowering property rates, which are currently hovering around $82 U.S. per square foot in big cities such as Beijing. For lowering the rates, the government has recently announced a plan to increase the minimum down payment for larger apartments to thirty percent and more than doubled the period during which a property sales tax would be applied.
It may appear that people are planning to retire in China mainly due to the low cost of living and advanced facilities. This may be one of the factors, but the main factor that is actually attracting most people to China is probably its rich culture and tradition and friendly people. It is not unusual in China to come across smiling faces, especially children who love to say ‘hello’. If you want a high standard of living in retirement, as a baby boomer, you could do a lot worse than retiring in China.
Currency Exchange Rate (August 2012)
$1.00 US Dollar = 6.37250 Chinese Yuan Renminbi
1.00 USD = 6.37250 CNY
Learn more about travelling, living, and possibly retiring to the People’s Republic of China: