Young, Educated and Bilingual, and Making Less Than $20,000 a Year: This is China….

The always interesting BizCult is in the midst of a decidedly unscientific expat salary survey. In its post, The Real Slim, Shady Expat Wages Stand Up, [link no longer exists] BizCult reveals that of “15 respondents so far, the majority are 26-30 year old professionals from North America making US$10,000-$19,000 a year.”

I find these numbers both fascinating and highly believable.

There are countless young and talented foreigners working legally and illegally in China at what in the United States (and most of the EU) would be absurdly low wages. BizCult correctly notes that Starbucks in China costs about the same as in the US, but fails to mention that one can rent a decent apartment in Shanghai or Beijing for around $300 a month (or less, depending on the definition of the word decent) and that many expat (or perhaps more properly, half-pats) are taking jobs with Chinese companies these days.

China’s second tier cities cost less and salaries there are presumably also less.

I know a well-qualified American corporate lawyer who works for a Chinese law firm for $2,000 a month and another very experienced employment lawyer who makes $30,000 a year.

BizCult’s post proves that though there is money to be made in China, there is also a lot of competition for jobs there as well, even for foreigners, particularly those without a great deal of applicable experience.

I would love to hear from readers regarding salaries in China. Please mention the city and how your salary (or those of others) impacts your standard of living. Anonymous is fine.

UPDATE: Modern Lei Feng did an excellent post on this, entitled, The Dwindling Expat Package, positing that true fluency in Chinese creates salary distance from those with lesser fluency. I can say that for my law firm, the difference between someone who can read Chinese and someone who cannot is simply huge. Huge to the point of being determinative.

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