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Ningbo, China

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Feb 05, 2023

Summary: Ningbo, China is a vibrant and modern city with a rich cultural heritage. Expats love the city's convenient transportation, friendly locals, and delicious food. The weather in Ningbo is generally mild, with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to the mid-70s Fahrenheit. The average cost of living for an expat is estimated to be around $1,000 to $1,500 per month. The cost of a one bedroom apartment is around $400 to $600 per month, while a two bedroom apartment can cost around $600 to $800 per month. The population of Ningbo is 7.6 million people.

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What do I need to know about living in Ningbo?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Ningbo, they said:

"Expats considering retiring in Ningbo should research the local culture, language, healthcare system, and transportation system. It is also important to understand the local visa and residence permit requirements. Expats should familiarize themselves with the climate, cost of living, and the cultural and recreational opportunities available in the city. It is important to build relationships and networks with other expats in the area, in order to set up a smooth transition," explained one expat.

"Ningbo is an up-and-coming city with a rapidly growing expat community. However, retiring in China can come with some specific challenges such as obtaining visas, obtaining health insurance, and navigating the local language. Expats should research these topics extensively before moving to the city. Additionally, it’s important to be aware of Chinese customs and culture as it can be quite different from many Western countries. Expats should also be aware that most meals in Ningbo will contain meat, so if you’re not used to eating meat it can be an adjustment. Finally, expats should also be prepared to have their documents translated into Chinese," said another person in Ningbo, China.

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What do I need to know before moving to Ningbo?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Ningbo, they said:

"Before moving to Ningbo, expats should research the neighborhoods carefully to determine the best place to live. It is important to understand the local climate and the availability of certain amenities, such as restaurants, transportation, and medical facilities. Additionally, becoming familiar with Chinese culture and customs, as well as learning a few phrases in Mandarin, can help facilitate integration into this new city. Expats should also check whether their home nation has a consulate or embassy in Ningbo, as it may provide helpful guidance or assistance. Furthermore, expats should make sure to bring any necessary paperwork and familiarize themselves with Chinese business and immigration laws when settling into the city. Finally, having an understanding of Chinese money and payment methods will help to ensure an easy transition," remarked another expat in Ningbo, China.

"Ningbo is a port city located in the eastern Zhejiang province of China and is home to around 8 million people. It has a humid subtropical climate, with warm and wet summers and cool winters. English is not widely spoken outside of expat locations, so if you plan to move to Ningbo, it is advisable to learn some Mandarin. The cost of living is generally lower than other large cities in China, but prices can be inflated in expat-populated areas. Ningbo offers some excellent local cuisines and is a great destination for foodies. It is easy to get around the city via the metro and taxi services. While Ningbo is generally safe and comfortable, it is always wise to be aware of your personal safety," explained one expat living in Ningbo, China.

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How do I find a place to live in Ningbo?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"The best way to find a place to live in Ningbo is to first consider your budget and what type of living arrangement you are looking for. For example, if you are looking to rent an apartment, you can try searching websites like airbnb.com and c-trip.com to find available apartments in Ningbo. Alternatively, you can find advertisements for apartments in local newspapers and Chinese online forums. If looking to purchase a property, real estate websites or classifieds/forums can be a great way to find an ideal place to call home. Finally, if looking for a roommate or seeking long-term lodging, you can find various listings on social media sites, student websites, and other online listings," added another person living in Ningbo, China.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Ningbo?

"A typical expat home or apartment in Ningbo typically has a modern, western design, with modern appliances and furnishings. Depending on the area, the flooring may be tile, marble, hardwood, or parquet. The walls are typically painted in neutral colors, like white or beige, and windows often have curtains, blinds, or shutters for privacy. Expat apartments may come with a large balcony or terrace as well, offering views of the city or surrounding town. Additionally, homes and apartments usually come with all the necessary amenities, such as hot water and heating, a washing machine, and a refrigerator," explained one expat.

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What is the average cost of housing in Ningbo?

If you are thinking about moving to Ningbo, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The cost of housing in Ningbo varies greatly depending on the area and type of property. Generally speaking, housing in Ningbo is comparatively more affordable than many other major cities in China, with prices ranging from around 2,000 yuan per month for a basic one-bedroom apartment to around 10,000 yuan per month for a high-end luxury villa," explained one expat.

"The cost of housing in Ningbo can vary greatly depending on location, quality of the property, and other factors. Generally speaking, rental prices in Ningbo can range from affordable to expensive, with an average of around US$400 to US$900 per month. Expats may pay more, as well as individuals seeking higher-quality accommodations. Purchasing a home also varies in price, but on average a mid-size apartment can range from US$65,000 to US$150,000," said another person in Ningbo, China.

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How do I meet people in Ningbo?

When we asked people living in Ningbo about club and activities where newcomers can meet others, they responded:

"Expats living in Ningbo have many ways to get involved and meet people. Popular clubs and activities that expats join include hiking clubs, cafes and restaurants, book clubs, and even ballet and cooking classes. Expats can also get involved with the local community by volunteering at community centers, joining cultural events, attending language exchange groups and in-person meetups, and socializing with friends of friends. Lastly, they can join expat meetup groups, which are an incredibly convenient way to find like-minded people and make new friends," said another expat in Ningbo, China.

"Expatriates living in Ningbo are able to join a variety of local clubs and activities related to their interests and hobbies. Popular activities among expats include yoga classes, running clubs, and art clubs. Additionally, there are a number of expat-specific events such as English movie nights, international potluck parties, and workshops that can be found at the Ningbo International Center. Aside from clubs and activities, many expats in Ningbo meet people through their workplace, or through social gatherings organized by the Ningbo International Friendship Association. Finally, due to Ningbo's vibrant cultural heritage, many expats also explore the city's social and cultural events such as language exchange meetups, cultural festivals, and city tours," added another person living in Ningbo, China.

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What should I bring when moving to Ningbo?

People living in Ningbo were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"When moving to Ningbo, it is important to pack appropriately for warm weather. Bring light layers such as t-shirts, shorts, and thin sweaters. Pack adequate rain protection items, such as a raincoat, an umbrella, and waterproof shoes. Additionally, it is important to bring adequate sun protection such as sunglasses, hats, and SPF-rated sunscreen. Additionally, be sure to bring comfortable walking shoes for exploring the city, along with a variety of formal and casual clothing for work and social occasions. Don't forget to bring necessary basics for the home, such as a first-aid kit, bedding and towels, kitchen equipment, and toiletries," said another expat in Ningbo, China.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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Where should I setup a bank account in Ningbo?

We asked expats in Ningbo what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:

"It is important for expats to know that Ningbo is an industrial port city in East China and the major administrative centre for the Zhejiang Province. Expats should also be aware that the local dialect is called Ningbo Hu Feng Taiwanese and it is very different from Mandarin Chinese. Additionally, expats should familiarize themselves with the local culture and customs to ensure a smooth transition into life in Ningbo. Since Ningbo is a coastal city, it is important to prepare for the humidity in summer and the cold temperatures in winter. Finally, expats should be aware of the visa requirements and the different healthcare options available in the city," added another person living in Ningbo, China.

"Before retiring in Ningbo, expats should ensure they open a bank account and apply for a Chinese Social Security Card. It is also important to understand the local language, as English is not widely spoken in the city. Expats should research the local healthcare system and arrange for health insurance. To ensure a smooth transition into daily life, expats should familiarize themselves with the local culture, customs, and etiquette. Lastly, researching the local expat community can be a great way to make friends and find help settling down in the city," explained one expat living in Ningbo, China.

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Will I be able to find a job in Ningbo?

When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Ningbo, they reponded:

"Foreigners in Ningbo often find employment teaching English, working in marketing or sales positions, or doing technical or software development work in the IT industry. Other job opportunities in the area include working in the hospitality industry or providing translation services. Additionally, some foreigners work in finance, accounting and consulting jobs in a corporate setting," remarked another expat in Ningbo, China.

"Foreigners often have jobs in the service industry, such as teaching English, working as a tour guide, or in hospitality. Additionally, there are often opportunities for foreigners to work in the technology sector or for international companies with a presence in Ningbo. Other jobs may include marketing or sales roles in foreign companies, as well as working for non-governmental organisations," explained one expat living in Ningbo, China.

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What is life like in Ningbo?

When we asked people living in Ningbo what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Life for expats and digital nomads in Ningbo is an interesting and unique experience. Expats in Ningbo have access to many local attractions, restaurants, and experiences in the area, making it a great place to visit and work. Since Ningbo is a smaller city than most, expats can easily get around and are welcomed wherever they go. There is a strong digital nomad community and a large expat population in Ningbo, which makes it easy to meet likeminded people and to get advice and support. The cost of living in Ningbo is generally lower than in the west, making it an affordable place to live and work. All in all, Ningbo is an excellent place to create a life as an expat or digital nomad," replied an expat in Ningbo, China.

"Life for expats and digital nomads is generally good in Ningbo. The cost of living is relatively low, and expats can benefit from a bustling, yet relaxed atmosphere with all the amenities they need. The lifestyle is also attractive since it allows flexibility, with plenty of co-working spaces and other places where one can meet and get to know like-minded people. In addition, the city is quite safe, friendly, and there is an abundance of delicious and inexpensive food options. Ningbo is also very close to many other cities and tourist attractions, giving expats and digital nomads plenty of opportunities for exploration and new experiences," remarked another in Ningbo, China.

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What do expats in Ningbo appreciate most about the local culture?

"Expatriates in Ningbo appreciate the friendly attitude of the locals and their hospitality towards foreigners. For example, many expats find the tradition of locals introducing their family and friends to visitors as a welcoming gesture. Additionally, expats enjoy the bustling city culture that Ningbo offers, as well as the historical landmarks and sites that are steeped in cultural heritage. The locals also respect the cultural background of expats and are welcoming of their presence. Moreover, the food in Ningbo is a particular highlight of the local culture, with a local delicacy of Poached Shrimp Rice Cake being a popular favorite," said another expat in Ningbo, China.

"Expatriates in Ningbo appreciate its culture for its hospitality, delicious food and active nightlife. Along with the city's rapidly developing industries and modern amenities, locals take pride in timeless customs and a rich history. Expats also find it easy to get involved in the community and discover its culture, many of which are centered around religious events and traditional folk art. From its sacred landscapes and temples to the delicious local cuisine and friendly people, Ningbo's culture has something to offer everyone," added another person living in Ningbo, China.

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What do expats find most challenging?

"Expatriates in Ningbo may find it challenging to navigate the local culture due to the language barrier and different customs. The city's dense population can also overwhelm newcomers, and understanding the local etiquette can be difficult. Understanding and adapting to the public transportation system can also be daunting for foreigners, as many residents rarely speak English and the signage can be incomprehensible. Additionally, the unique cuisine of Ningbo can take some getting used to for those hailing from more western countries," said another expat in Ningbo, China.

"Expatriates in Ningbo often find understanding the language barrier to be one of the most challenging aspects of the local culture. Another challenging task for expatriates is trying to comprehend and follow Chinese customs, as certain behaviors and etiquette are extremely important and nuanced. Additionally, the Chinese concept of “face” or strong respect for one’s reputation can often be difficult for expatriates to comprehend. Furthermore, navigating the Chinese bureaucracy system and understanding the proper steps for obtaining local visas or permits can be challenging for expatriates," added another person living in Ningbo, China.

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Is there a lot of crime in Ningbo?

We asked people if there is a lot of crime. They answered:

"Ningbo is generally considered to be a safe and secure city. However, as with any city, there is some crime, including theft, fraud and pickpocketing. Violent crime is relatively rare in Ningbo, and is rarely associated with tourists. Local police actively patrol the city to ensure that people are safe, and the Chinese government has implemented stricter laws on crime in recent years," replied an expat in Ningbo, China.

"Ningbo is generally considered a safe city with low levels of crime. However, petty crimes such as pickpocketing, bag-snatching and cell phone theft do occur, and visitors should take caution when venturing out. Tourists should also take extra care in popular tourist areas and avoid taking large amounts of cash with them when travelling," remarked another in Ningbo, China.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Ningbo accepting of differences?

"Ningbo is a bustling port city in Zhejiang province, recognized as one of China’s most dynamic and diverse urban centers. Despite its population of over seven million people, including citizens from over a dozen countries such as Japan, Russia, and South Korea, a sense of unity and acceptance is felt throughout Ningbo. The city is home to a myriad of religious and cultural beliefs, providing each member of its community with freedom to express themselves without retaliation or discrimination. People in Ningbo strive to foster a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, where everyone can feel accepted and at home," explained one expat.

"Ningbo is a diverse city that has a high number of immigrants as well as local residents. People of all races, cultures, and nationalities are welcome. The locals in Ningbo are generally accepting of differences, even with the influx of migrants coming from other parts of China. Respectful and kind behavior is expected of all citizens and foreigners alike, providing a friendly atmosphere for everyone who lives in the city," said another person in Ningbo, China.

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What are the schools in Ningbo like?

"Ningbo Foreign Language School (NFLS) is one of the best international schools in Ningbo. This school offers a truly bilingual education, focusing on both Chinese language proficiency and international academic standards. NFLS offers a dual-diploma system consisting of the Chinese High School Graduation Certificate and the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme. The curriculum also includes extracurricular activities such as debate and news writing, as well as other activities such as sports, outdoor activities and voluntary community service. Ningbo Meishan International School (MSIS) is a bilingual school that provides a top-quality, internationally recognized education to students from both China and abroad. MSIS provides a rigorous academic curriculum, preparing students for the International Baccalaureate Exam and A-Levels. Students have the opportunity to explore topics in science, technology, humanities, arts, language and sports. Through exposure to these diverse topics, MSIS encourages its students to become global citizens. Ningbo Yucai International School (NYIS) is another great international school in Ningbo. This school offers a dual degree program that enables students to gain both a Chinese High School Graduation and an A-Level certificate before their graduation. NYIS also offers a wide range of language classes and extracurricular activities that are geared towards the exposure of students to culture and the development of strong communication, collaboration, critical thought and problem-solving skills," remarked another expat living in Ningbo, China with children attending .

"The British School of Ningbo is an international school located in Ningbo. It offers an inspiring education based on the English National Curriculum, preparing children for success in the 21st century. The school is committed to developing their students into well-rounded, ever-evolving individuals, who can have a positive impact on society. It offers a vibrant community, where students can experience a diverse and multicultural environment. Ningbo International School (NIS) is a top-rated international school offering a unique program that blends Chinese and Western culture. It serves an international population and integrates a bilingual international education with a holistic approach to teaching and learning in classrooms. The curriculum comprises core subjects such as mathematics, Chinese language and literature, and social studies, as well as humanities, science, and the creative, physical, and performing arts. ESLAME International School is a leading bilingual school, offering both the Chinese curriculum and the world-renowned International Baccalaureate curricula. The school focuses on developing students to become independent, creative thinkers as well as responsible global citizens. It provides an outstanding learning environment based on mutual respect, a stimulating curriculum, and a wide range of co-curricular activities," said another expat in Ningbo, China with children at .

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About the Author

Joshua Wood 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.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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