Living In Shenzhen As An Expat

Living In Shenzhen As An Expat – that will be the topic of today’s article.

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The best time to consider your financial situation is when you are moving to a new country.


Do you want to get sun-tanned on Shenzhen beaches? Or do you want to tour the fun parks whilst embracing knowledge from its prestigious schools and easy workplaces? Either way, you want to be a Shenzhen expat.

Although, it’s common knowledge that moving to a new place is more complicated than picking out the right pair of shoes to tour that new country. Our expatriate guide to living in Shenzhen helps you settle in like it’s your hometown.

Living In Shenzhen As An Expat

Shenzhen is the seventh prominent city in China, topping the charts as China’s most prosperous and primary manufacturing city. Shenzhen is the heart of beaches, parks, touring mountains, and convenient transportation.

However, being an expat during a coronavirus pandemic necessitates a health certificate before entering any country. Shenzhen isn’t left out of this rule as you’d need to provide a COVID-19 negative test result and simultaneously undergo the COVID-19 test protocol for travelers at the Chinese airport.

Packed up the bags? Check. Strapped your seatbelt? Check. Got the window seat on the flight? Probably. Have an idea how to live in Shenzhen? We’ll go ahead and answer no for that. This article covers every curiosity you’d have about living in Shenzhen as an expat.

5 Things to Know Before Living in Shenzhen

Before planning a relocation, being versed with the legal requirements of the country/city is a travel necessity. This article has detailed every Shenzhen essential you need to know before living in Shenzhen as an expat.

Get a Chinese Visa

Living In Shenzhen As An Expat

Living in Shenzhen requires being familiar with the different kinds of visas issued to expats via the Chinese Consulate in your country. These visas are issued based on your period and purpose of stay in the country.

Currently, three major visa options issued to expats are tourist visas, work visas, and business visas. Before obtaining them, these visa options have different legal requirements, and we’ll dive into those requirements soon.

Nonetheless, keep in mind that these visas have an official period of stay and validity. Thus, if you plan to extend your stay, make sure to include it during the visa application. Without further ado, let’s jump into the three major visa options.

Tourist Visa

  • A return passport with six months validity
  • A plane ticket with your return date
  • A passport photograph
  • Visa application payment

Work Visa

  • Work permit from your employer
  • Passport photograph
  • Passport with six months validity
  • Health certificate/criminal records

Business visa

  • Your business/company’s details (name, contact information, etc.)
  • Passport photograph
  • Passport with six months validity

Learn Mandarin/Cantonese Language

Living in Shenzhen mandates communicating with the locals. Although Cantonese is the most spoken language in Chinese cities, Mandarin dominates as the official language in Shenzhen.

However, it’s best to learn both languages as Shenzhen is filled with Chinese migrants with both major dialects. Duolingo comes in handy with helping you learn the basic phrases; you can also immerse yourself in Chinese movies/songs to get familiar with the words.

Finances Before Flight Tickets

Flight tickets solely go as far as taking you to the doorsteps of China; however, your financial budget guides you to living in Shenzhen. As stated earlier, Shenzhen is a city in China; hence your financial plan should revolve around its lifestyle.

Living In Shenzhen As An Expat

Get a Home

Making a move to Shenzhen without where to reside spells disaster. Before earning the expat title, knowing where to rest off the jetlag is crucial. Temporarily living at a hotel will leave a hole in your wallet; thus, having accommodation before moving makes settling easy.

In the long run, we’ll outline the districts in Shenzhen, in addition to their cost of accommodation.

Get Employed

If your primary purpose of living in Shenzhen doesn’t revolve around schooling, getting a job before relocating helps make your finances steady and get that visa effortlessly. This article is going to guide you through Shenzhen’s job opportunities and work permits.

Why Shenzhen is Amongst China’s Top Expat City

Choosing to live in Shenzhen should top your list of best decisions in 2021. It is one of China’s top cities that attracts expats and locals from all walks of life. Let’s dive into the heart of Shenzhen that’ll make you giddy with excitement.

Contemporary Urban Lifestyle

As an expat living in Shenzhen, one thing you wouldn’t need to keep up with is the lifestyle. Shenzhen is a diverse city with tons of cultural and trendy activities due to variations in the population.

Hence you wouldn’t need to adjust to the way of life in Shenzhen as it incorporates both western and cultural lifestyle routines. The Shenzhen locals are also known to be more friendly and educated compared to the average Chinese.

Food Flexibility

Being an expat living in Shenzhen, the food flexibility allows you to choose from various cuisines. Whether you are a vegetarian or a Muslim, be rest assured of finding your specific kind of food in Shenzhen.

Aside from its refreshing Cantonese delicacies like the grilled lamb, seafood, congee, and dim sum, Shenzhen has a variety of western restaurants you can try whenever the cravings hit.

Tourist Attraction Sites

Living In Shenzhen As An Expat

Regardless of the reason behind your stay in Shenzhen, one aspect of the city you wouldn’t want to miss is its attraction sites. These tourist sites are the heart of Shenzhen, being the top affluent city in China.

Aside from its popular tourist sites like the Da Fen art painting village, amusement parks, and Window of the world, the city also boasts stunning beaches and green gardens.

Tons of Job Opportunities

Being one of China’s fast-developing cities, Shenzhen is home to job opportunities for expats to grow financially. Aside from being an attraction site for tourists, the city also attracts foreign investors due to its economic growth.

A Hub for Easy Friendship

Due to its population diversity, you wouldn’t need to worry about making friends. Whether it’s fellow expats or Shenzhen locals, the majority of the people are friendly and open-minded.

Comfortable Transportation

One of the perks of living in Shenzhen is convenient transportation. Due to its vast and affordable transport network, getting around the city is a simple affair.

The transportation system ranges from metro to trains, ferries, buses, and taxis. The prices of each transport system depend on the distance traveled. However, the basic price range includes;

Transportation systemTransportation fare
Metro  2 yuan per four-kilometer
  Train74-200 yuan
  Ferries140-300 yuan
  Buses2-10 yuan per person
  Taxis10 yuan per two-kilometer

Pros and Cons of Living in Shenzhen

Once a small fishing village, Shenzhen has evolved to be a getaway destination for expats. Nonetheless, for every pro, there’s a downside to it. Thus, the pros and cons of living in Shenzhen as an expat include the following.


1.    Low Living Expenses

Despite being one of China’s top innovative cities, living in Shenzhen results in easy spending and more savings. The living expenses in Shenzhen are what attract expats to the growing city. Further, into this article, we’ll table the cost of essential utilities in Shenzhen.

2.    Clean Environment/Air

Being home to over 12 million culturally diverse people doesn’t impact the atmosphere in Shenzhen. Known for its green land, the cleanliness of the city is a major priority to the government.

3.    High Vitality Rate

Although living in Shenzhen exposes you to a myriad of people, the majority of the citizens are young-aged. Thus, if you are a young expat, be rest assured of finding peers who resonate with you. Aside from the age barrier, the quality of life in Shenzhen is the ultimate guide to a younger look.

4.    Vibrant Cultures

A perk of living in Shenzhen is introducing your culture without being accompanied by judgy looks. A city of expats and locals from all cultures is sure to make your stay in Shenzhen a euphoric experience.


1.    Simmering Heat

While packing up your weather apparel for your move to Shenzhen, there’s no need to stock up on winter coats as the winter season is usually mild. However, Shenzhen’s summer season works out your sweat glands as the temperature gets as high as 100 degrees.

2.    Fast and Busy Life

 Due to the population variation, living in Shenzhen can be pretty complicated at your first arrival, as the city is often vibrant and the residents work at a fast pace. Either it’s simple activities like walking or eating, the “Shenzhen” operates at a speed level.

3.       Bad Traffic

As stated earlier, the residents of Shenzhen are often on speed dial in their daily lives; thus, there’s little regard to proper movement as the streets are huddled with people and vehicles bustling about.

4.    Zero Queue Etiquette

 The “Shenzhen” tends to exhibit impatience in a queue. Boarding the metro or taking the elevator can be chaotic as the residents have zero tendencies to queue appropriately.

Things to Know for a Comfortable Living in Shenzhen

Living in Shenzhen as an expat will increase the release of dopamine, which is the hormone responsible for happiness. However, don’t get comfy yet without knowing few things to keep in mind as an expat in Shenzhen.

Valid Means of Identification

Living in Shenzhen requires being close to a means of identification. This identification could be your residence or work permit; as an expat, this means of identification might be requested by the police officers.

However, worry less as the Shenzhen cops are as friendly and polite as the citizens.

Conscious of Visa’s Expiry Date

The Chinese are extremely strict with overstaying your welcome in their cities. Thus, keep in mind the expiry date of your visa and schedule sufficient time to renew it.Exceeding your visa’s expiry date results in an expensive fine or, worse, being detained.

Abide By the Rules

Being an expat necessitates abiding by the laws of the country. In Shenzhen, the government is strict with the country’s regulations; hence, violation of the rules results in termination of your visa.

Shenzhen’s Expat Protection Right

Being one of the top affluent cities worldwide doesn’t stop Shenzhen from providing the necessary protection right to expats. Security officials are deposited almost everywhere in the city; thus, you can always talk to them for emergencies.

Child’s Residency

Having a family member who is a kid while living in Shenzhen requires obtaining a residency permit for the kid’s legal stay in the city. With the kid’s birth certificate handy, you can apply for residency at the Shenzhen public security bureau.

Zero Pleasantries

Although the residents of Shenzhen are friendly, the majority of the locals don’t exchange polite pleasantries. Saying “please” or “thank you” at restaurants is considered weird; to the Chinese, it’s not considered rude. Hence you shouldn’t take it personal if you get no reply to your greetings.

Cost of Living in Shenzhen

As an expat living in Shenzhen, stocking up on the essential life utilities is a significant priority. Shenzhen has seven major districts: Yantian, Nanshan, Futian, Luohu, Longgang, Baoan, and Shekou.

These districts have vast distances between them you’d want to consider, primarily if you work. Aside from a distance, each district has its specificity with essential commodities.

Without further ado, we’ll briefly break down each district to help you make a neighborhood decision, in addition to the prices of accommodation and other utilities.

Yantian District

The Haitian district keeps you close to the Shenzhen stunning beaches, Sea world park, and China’s largest amusement Park. Hence, if you are looking for a place to work and relieve the stress, later on, Yantian is perfect.


Nanshan is a favorite district for both locals and foreigners. A hub for lush green gardens and beautiful residential houses, coupled with being the home to brands like Lenovo, IBM, Huawei, and Tencent, this district keeps you away from the bustle of the street.


Futian houses major business companies in the city, making it the most expensive district in Shenzhen. The district encompasses the Cocoa Mall, Shenzhen’s five-star hotels, and most government offices.


Luohu is the commercial district of Shenzhen, crammed with tons of shopping malls; it also features a railway border between Hong Kong and Shenzhen.


The Longgang district is home to Shenzhen’s museums and art village. It also houses Shenzhen’s skyscraper, which is about 668m tall.


Home to the city’s major transport network, Baoan is rapidly growing into a luxurious district featuring most of the sporting centers in Shenzhen.


Tucked away at the edge of the Nanshan district, Shekou has the highest population of expats. Searching for fellow expats? Shekou is the home base for expats. The Shekou district consists of prominent shopping malls, diners, and entertainment precincts.

Accommodation in Shenzhen

Once you’ve decided which district to live in, Shenzhen, getting home would be the next step to properly being an expat. There are tons of housing choices in Shenzhen, ranging from apartments, studios to penthouses.

We’ve tabled the cost of each house option in Shenzhen. Keep in mind that the official currency is RMB or Renminbi, while yuan is the unit, the way USD is to dollars.

Housing choices/districtPrice range
Futian one-bedroom apartment6500-8000 RMB
Luohu one-bedroom apartment5000-6500 RMB
Nanshan one-bedroom apartment5000-6000 RMB
Yantian one-bedroom apartment4500-6000 RMB
Shekou one-bedroom apartment5000-6000 RMB
Bao’an one-bedroom apartment4500-6000 RMB
Studios2500-4000 RMB
Beachview Penthouses20,000 -30,000 RMB


On your first arrival in Shenzhen, you’ll probably opt to eat out. When you’ve got the hang of living in Shenzhen as an expat, you can decide to splurge on groceries. Either way, this article will provide you with the cost of groceries and eating out.

A litre of milk14.37 yuan
Loaf of bread14.23 yuan
Eggs15.71 yuan
Cheese78.89 yuan
Beef105. 86 yuan
Fruits10-15 yuan
Bottle of water4.67 yuan
Beer7.21 yuan
A bottle of wine120.00 yuan
  Restaurant  Prices
Meal for one30.00 yuan
Meal at McDonald’s35.00 yuan
A cup of coffee29.00 yuan
Pepsi/coke3.29 yuan

Other Essential Utility Prices in Shenzhen

Other utilities like electricity, internet connection, mobile plans, or gym membership are also priorities when living in Shenzhen.


Sticking to a specific provider will cut down your expenses; the price of gas per litre is 7.11 yuan, while the cost of electricity and other utilities like water and heater ranges from 400-500 yuan.

Internet Connection/Mobile Plans

Accessing the internet depends on the district; nonetheless, the general price of internet utility is 126.83 yuan, while mobile plans rate from 0.14 yuan per minute.

Gym Membership/Other Leisure Activities

Gym membership prices range from 300-400 yuan monthly per adult; other sports/ leisure activities such as tennis is priced 108 per hour, while cinemas are 50 yuan per seat.

Job Opportunities in Shenzhen

Finding a job before living in Shenzhen is no stress, as the city is known as a hub for international/local jobs. As the city keeps thriving, there’s an increase in job opportunities.

Being home to a diverse number of population, Shenzhen provides tons of opportunities for expats to grow either as an employee or employer. Starting up a company isn’t difficult as the city is the base camp of successful businesses.

There are abundant job openings in engineering, medicine, design, electronics, research, IT, and teaching fields. Job ads can be found in newspapers and job websites like Zhaopin or Shenzhenparty.

Nonetheless, a work visa is essential to working in Shenzhen, as a work permit is a prerequisite to obtaining one. Fortunately, you can get a work permit online by sending your documents to your employer, who, in turn, grants you a work permit.

Living In Shenzhen As An Expat

Schooling in Shenzhen

If your purpose of living in Shenzhen revolves around schooling, then good news, Shenzhen has a wide array of schooling options. These options range from public schools, private and international schools, homeschooling, tutors to special needs school.

Most expat parents opt for private or international schools due to the language barrier and academic competition in public schools. A perk of international schooling in Shenzhen is the curricula are based on specific countries; hence you can combine the Shenzhen curricula with that of your country.

Shenzhen also provides quality college education to expats with impressive teaching facilities and professors, setting the ground for opportunities after graduation.

Healthcare in Shenzhen

The healthcare system in Shenzhen is of high quality as they are tons of hospitals in most locations featuring world-class medical facilities. Some of these medical facilities are designed with a western-style to suit expats.

Although the public health sectors are inexpensive, it’s best to apply for international health insurance for private hospitals as well. Whilst visiting the hospitals, go along with a translator as the majority of the doctors rarely understand foreign languages.

You can also go along with your medical records containing allergies, blood type, etc. The emergency number 120 comes in handy in need of first aid or ambulance services.


Since you are versed with the prices of living utilities in Shenzhen, you’d be able to manage your finances within a budget properly. Although foreign credit cards are accepted at international places in Shenzhen, the Chinese union pay card is the dominating credit card.

Managing your finances in Shenzhen’s bank gives you access to the WeChat Pay app for convenient banking. The WeChat app allows you to pay for a broad range of goods simultaneously.

Selecting a bank with a wide brand coverage is advisable, as you’d be able to find its branch whenever you visit other cities. Bank of China, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China are examples of a vast coverage bank.

Safety in Shenzhen

Although vastly populated with many locals and foreigners, there’s a low crime rate, making Shenzhen a safe place to live. Aside from petty pickpocketing, the vibrant city offers a safe ground to stroll at night.


Living in Shenzhen as an expat is a joyful ride as you’ll experience the different cultures and richness of the city. That’s why it’s better to understand the pros and cons before planning your relocation process. Nonetheless, this expat guide helps you settle in like a natural Chinese.

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