Last updated on Feb 05, 2023
Summary: Tianjin, China is a vibrant and modern city with a rich cultural heritage. Expats love the city's convenient transportation, diverse cuisine, and friendly locals. The weather in Tianjin is generally mild, with temperatures ranging from the mid-30s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (0-30 Celsius). The average cost of living for an expat is estimated to be around $1,000-$1,500 USD per month. The cost of a one bedroom apartment is around $500-$700 USD per month, while a two bedroom apartment is around $700-$1,000 USD per month. The population of Tianjin is 15.6 million people.
What do I need to know about living in Tianjin?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Tianjin, they said:
"1. Expats should research and familiarize themselves with the local culture and customs of Tianjin before retiring there. 2. It is advisable to research the different visa options available to expats before moving to Tianjin, as different visas may have different restrictions. 3. Expats should also research the availability of healthcare options in case of emergency. 4. It is important to consider the affordability of housing and local amenities in Tianjin before deciding to retire there. 5. Make sure to investigate the utility and transportation systems in the city, as they may vary from the accustomed standards in the expat's home country. 6. Learning some Chinese language skills might be useful, as not every resident may be fluent in English. 7. Lastly, it is advisable to learn as much as possible about the climate in Tianjin before relocating, as the weather can be unpredictable and extreme," added another expat in Tianjin, China.
"Lousy weather - cold, windy winters and very polluted. Hot sticky summers. Little to do aside from eating out and shopping malls. However, there is an airport close by and a train station - and Beijing is 2 hours away," remarked another expat who made the move to Tianjin.
What do I need to know before moving to Tianjin?
When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Tianjin, they said:
"It is important to be prepared for the culture shock when moving to Tianjin, due to the large differences between Western and Chinese customs. Expats should research the laws and regulations of the country, which can be found on the websites of expat groups and the embassy of the local government. In addition, it is also prudent to have a good understanding of the local language and understand the local customs to ensure a smooth transition. Furthermore, they should be aware of the different visa and residence requirements, as expats from certain countries may require a specific type of visa and ID. Finally, finding suitable accommodation, in relation to distance from the workplace, should also be taken into account," commented one expat who made the move to Tianjin, China.
"Come for what I call a looky-see trip first before committing to come live in this area to make sure you can find a decent home for you and your family. Get a good relocation company to help you look and negotiate for you. Everything in china is up for negotiation! Make sure your company is allowing you enough housing money per month to get you a good place to live and make sure you detail and negotiate EVERYTHING you want the place to have BEFORE you seal the deal and move into the place. *** When your contract for the house is up for renewal that is the time the owner will make other changes you need or forgot to ask for intitally to keep you in the place for another go round," remarked another expat living in Tianjin, China.
How do I find a place to live in Tianjin?
We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:
"One way to find a place to live in Tianjin is to use a property listing website such as 5i5j, soufun, or wuba. These websites list apartments, houses, and other types of places to rent in Tianjin. The websites also list information such as the area of Tianjin, the rent and the size of the space. Additionally, some websites have maps to help you find the area that you are searching for. Additionally, it is also possible to find a place to live in Tianjin by connecting with others who already live in the city. Joining online expat communities like Tianjin Expat or attending local events such as International Cultural Exchange Events are two ways to meet potential contacts who may be able to help you find a place to rent," remarked another expat who made the move to Tianjin, China.
"There were not that many choices in Tianjin of what we call, "western style" housing. Still are not that many choices. We ended up in the place we have(23rd floor of a centrally located Singaporian run apt building) because one became available when we needed it and we grabbed the bird in hand not knowing if there were any left out there in the bushes, so to speak," explained one expat living in Tianjin, China.
What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Tianjin?
"A typical expat home in Tianjin is likely to be a luxurious, modern apartment that can boast great views of the city skyline. The apartments typically feature modern amenities such as air conditioning, landscaped gardens and a variety of luxurious comforts like heated floors. As expats often come with families, many apartments are also equipped with multiple bedrooms and living quarters for maximum convenience and comfort," explained one expat living in Tianjin, China, China.
"I live on the 23rd floor of what is known as a fully-serviced apt building. Fully serviced means that they provide housekeeping six days a week. My apt is a modest sized three bedroom/2 bath place.No dishwasher or garbage disposal but does have access to western TV programming which is banned to the Chinese locals. It is centrally located so I can walk to many places I want to go to or easily flag down one of the little red suicide taxis that play road chicken games all over town. Like most Chinese made buildings, this place while only five years old is already showing signs of falling apart," said another expat in Tianjin.
What is the average cost of housing in Tianjin?
If you are thinking about moving to Tianjin, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:
"The average cost of housing in Tianjin can vary depending on what area you are looking in and what type of housing you are interested in. Generally, apartments in the city center are more expensive than in the outskirts, while rental prices for smaller apartments can be quite affordable. Property prices have seen an increase in recent years, with luxury apartments typically costing more than those in the more affordable range," added another expat who made the move to Tianjin, China.
"The intial cost per month for this apt was $5,000 USD!(They have since dropped the rent down to $4,000 per month) The same apt back in Seattle would run around $1,000 per month and would include a dishwasher and garbage disposal. There are apts in Tianjin to be had for less, of course, but not as nice or offer perks like good western TV programming like our building can get for its tennants," explained one expat living in Tianjin, China.
How do I meet people in Tianjin?
When we asked people living in Tianjin about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:
"Expats in Tianjin often join or attend activities and clubs based around their hobbies or interests such as art, photography, sports, food, or music. There are also other social events that take place or that they can attend to meet people such as networking events, language exchange evenings, comedy nights and cinema evenings. Additionally, many expats join expat-specific groups and activities such as the Tianjin International Flavour Community, which provide expats with the opportunity to meet like-minded people of other nationalities. Other informal ways for expats to meet people include joining organisations and groups via WeChat and TenCent, attending local events such as festivals, joining a gym or fitness class, using online forums such as Tianjin Expat or Bespaar, or just striking up conversations with the locals," commented one expat who made the move to Tianjin, China.
What should I bring when moving to Tianjin?
People living in Tianjin were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:
"Pack clothing appropriate for the season and layers so you can adjust to changing temperatures. Bring essential electronics such as a laptop, power adapter/converter, and a cell phone. Pack any medications you may require, including a first-aid kit. Toiletries, makeup, and personal hygiene products are also important. Don't forget any important documents such as your passport, visas, and any other necessary paperwork. If possible, bring a few sentimental items from home to make your new place feel like home," commented one expat who made the move to Tianjin, China.
"Three things I wish I had brought 1. My own bed or a new American made King Size bed!!! My poor back may never forgive me for not doing so. Along with not knowing the meaning of safety and sanitation, the Chinese do not have a clue when it comes to making comfortable furniture.PS. Also the complete bedding for that bed. 2. Also, like the bed two very comfortable chairs(like a laz-y-boy) for the living room. Again, your body will appreciate you for doing so. 3. A mixer that has been wired for 220 volt. Can be done by companies in America that wire appliances for overseas living.The chinese do not use(yet) many of the appliances Americans are use to using in their kitchens. Three things I wish I had left at home. 1. At least 3/4's of my clothing (with the exception of underwear, jeans, and shoes) China is a nation of a zillion clothing shops and, also, excellent tailors and seamstresses that do not charge all that much to make good clothing. 2. My breadmaker. China now has lots of bakeries and while their pastries still leave something to be desired their many choices of breads will do just fine for your dinner table. 3. My fear of the Chinese people. I can honestly say that I have NOT had one single intimadating, fearful enounter or situation with any Chinese since moving here over two years ago. Frustrating and confusing at times,yes, but I have never felt threatened. In fact,sadly ironically, I have felt much safer here in China than I ever felt back in my good, ole USA," remarked another expat living in Tianjin, China.
Where should I setup a bank account in Tianjin?
We asked expats in Tianjin what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:
"Before retiring in Tianjin, expats should research the cost of living. Property prices can vary depending on the area, but expats should expect high rental and purchase prices. Additionally, it is important to research visa regulations since these can vary greatly in China and special arrangements may be necessary. Expats should be aware of the culture and customs in China to feel comfortable during their retirement. The climate can be extreme in Tianjin, as summers are very hot and humid and winters are cold and dry. Finally, expats should research healthcare and medical services, as finding English-speaking doctors may be difficult," wrote a member in Tianjin, China.
Will I be able to find a job in Tianjin?
When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Tianjin, they reponded:
"Foreigners living in Tianjin often work in the service industry, teaching English, performing research and development, or providing consulting services. Other jobs may include working as computer programmers, finance professionals, sales representatives, or working in foreign-owned companies. Additionally, there are opportunities to work as English language journalists, embassy representatives, or in the hospitality industry," explained one expat living in Tianjin, China, China.
What is life like in Tianjin?
When we asked people living in Tianjin what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:
"Tianjin is a great place for expats and digital nomads, as it has a large international community with plenty of expat friendly amenities. The city is well connected, with high-speed rails, subways and buses making it easy to explore the rest of China. English is widely spoken in Tianjin and it is home to some of the best universities in the country, making it a great option for those looking for educational opportunities. The housing market is also diverse, and expats have many options for reasonable rents. Local facilities are well equipped, including plenty of international supermarkets, restaurants and bars which make day-day living very convenient. Moreover, the cost of living is reasonable, with groceries and entertainment costing less than in many other major cities in China. With its convenient transportation and living options, Tianjin is a great place for digital nomads and expats looking for a safe and modern place to live," commented one expat who made the move to Tianjin, China.
What do expats in Tianjin appreciate most about the local culture?
"Expatriates in Tianjin enjoy the city’s long and interesting cultural history, as evident in its picturesque architecture and well-preserved heritage sites. Expats appreciate the local people’s friendliness and hospitality, as being welcomed warmly into the community makes them feel at home. Food is another thing appreciated by expats; the city’s culinary culture is rich and varied, providing them the opportunity to try something new and expanding their palate. Furthermore, the city’s vibrant art and music scene is well-known in the countryside, allowing expats to explore and engage in local culture," added another expat who made the move to Tianjin, China.
What do expats find most challenging?
"One challenge faced by expats living in Tianjin is the language barrier. As relatively few people speak English in the city, communication can be difficult for those arriving in the region. Additionally, cultural norms, such as behaviour in public spaces, can be difficult to navigate, as they differ considerably from those of western countries. Expats in Tianjin may also find it difficult to adapt to the more conservative attitudes and expectations surrounding clothing, gender roles and relationships that are found within the local culture. Finally, understanding and navigating the Chinese bureaucracy, particularly when it comes to obtaining necessary visas and residence permits, can be a significant challenge," said another expat in Tianjin, China.
Is there a lot of crime in Tianjin?
We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:
"Tianjin is generally considered to be relatively safe, with the number of reported criminal activities relatively low. However, there have been reports of certain types of crime occurring in certain areas of the city, including pickpocketing, robbery, and some instances of violence. Generally, tourists and visitors to the city should be aware of their surroundings and exercise caution when navigating the city," wrote a member in Tianjin, China.
Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Tianjin accepting of differences?
"Tianjin is known for its diverse population, with residents coming from a variety of backgrounds. In addition to the Han Chinese majority, people of many ethnicities and nationalities have settled in Tianjin, such as Koreans, Americans, Russians, and Africans. Generally, people in Tianjin are very accepting of different cultures and backgrounds, and diversity is welcomed within the city," remarked another expat living in Tianjin, China, China.
"People are accepting of diversity, but it's difficult to meet locals because of language barriers (few people speak English outside of typical expat locations)," added another expat in Tianjin.
What are the schools in Tianjin like?
"Tianjin is home to some of the best international and bilingual schools in Asia. A popular choice is the International School of Tianjin, which offers an International Baccalaureate program and provides an education based on the US American model of schooling. The school is committed to preparing students for success in a rapidly changing world, and provides rigorous academic curriculum as well as a wide variety of extra-curricular activities. The Tianjin YMCA International School is another great option for families seeking a bilingual education. Offering a variety of curriculums, from the International Baccalaureate program to the Chinese National Curriculum, the school nurtures creativity and critical thinking through a variety of subject areas. Finally, the Tianjin Quanyechang International School is another high-quality international school in the city. It stands out for its high academic standards, offering a wide range of courses such as English, Math, Science, History and Physical Education. The school also emphasizes international understanding through activities that celebrate global cultures, making it a great place to learn," said another parent with children at in Tianjin, China.
About the Author
Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.