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10 Attractive Cities for Expats in China

We'll take you on a tour of 10 of China's biggest cities and find out what makes them great places for expats to live.

Traveling to China can be intimidating. Although today, China is one of the most advanced and developed countries on the planet, its ecosystems can feel cut off from the rest of the world. For this reason, life in China for foreigners can seem like a mystery.

So if you’re planning to travel, work, or live in China, it’s always good to have a compact list of the most attractive cities for expats in China. In this Pacific Prime article, we’ll take you through 10 megacities in the nation, and explore why they’re the most expat-friendly cities.


If you’re a fan of seafood, Shenzhen is the place to go. The city has grown from a tiny fishing town to become one of China’s largest technological hubs. Although it’s not nearly as big as Guangzhou, the city has a more peaceful, optimistic, and clean atmosphere.


If you’re looking to live in a technologically advanced city with delicious seafood, then Shenzhen is perfect for you!

  • Temperature range: 11°C (51.8°F) to 32°C (89.6°F)
  • Best for: Advancing your career and starting your own business in China


Formerly known as Canton, Guangzhou is a busy megacity that has flourished economically for centuries. With a long history of being a port city that connects China to the rest of the world, today, Guangzhou is one of China’s most technologically advanced cities.

Expats who are always hungry for urban adventures and thrive under the energy of a big, chaotic city will surely enjoy their time in Guangzhou. Find out more in our best places to live in Guangzhou for expats article!

  • Temperature range: 11°C (51.8°F) to 34°C (93.2°F)
  • Best for : Expats who enjoy living in the buzz of a vibrant and energetic city


Harbin is unlike any other city in China. Having witnessed an influx of Russian engineers in the 19th century, many parts of the city’s architecture is very much like what you’ll find in Moscow. In the winter, Harbin transforms into a winter wonderland.

  • Temperature range:-23°C (-927°F) to 27°C (80.6°F)
  • Best for: Snow lovers


Qingdao has a long history of being an expat city. This trading port city was leased over to Germany in the late 19th century and has since been home to a large expat community. From German-style architecture to wide-open lakes, the city has no shortage of things for expats to fall in love with!

Today, Qingdao gains its reputation from expats all over China as being the birthplace of the famous local beer ‘Tsingtao’.

  • Temperature range:-4°C (24.8°F) to 29°C (84.2°F)
  • Best for: Expats looking to living in a city with a long-established expat community


Sanya is a stunning beach-side city situated in the most southern part of China’s Hainan island. Today, the city is a booming tourist destination, with classy resorts and other beach-front businesses. If you’re looking for a job in the tourism industry, you’ll find plenty of opportunities here.


Sanya isn’t just about the tourism industry. The calm, soothing environment means that there’s always a nice quiet place for retiring expats to reside.

  • Temperature range:18°C (64.4) to 31°C (87.8)
  • Best for: Expats looking to retire or those looking for a job in tourism


Chengdu is the capital of China’s southwestern Sichuan province. Its history dates back to more than 2,000 years and today, it’s one of the most developed international cities in the Southwest of China.

Chengdu is known for more than just its spicy Sichuan cuisine. It is also home to the Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. If you’re a panda lover looking to live comfortably in a mega Chinese city, Chengdu might just do the trick!

· Temperature range: 3°C (37.4°F) to 30°C (86°F)
· Best for: Panda lovers and spicy food addicts


Kunming is the capital city of China’s southern province of Yunnan. Although it has become one of China’s biggest cities in the past few decades, there are plenty of nearby countryside escapes, such as the Stone Forest, the Grand View Park, and the famous Kunming Green Lake Park.

Kunming is one of the more spacious megacities in China. For those who love big open spaces, Kunming offers just that!

  • Temperature range: 2°C (35.6°F) to 23°C (73.4°F)
  • Best for: Expats wanting to live in a more spacious city


Xi’an is the capital city of the central province of Shaanxi. Known for its various archaeological sites like the Terracotta Army, Xi’an has much to offer for expats living in the city. Matching the rich historical theme of the city, the city center also offers an abundance of authentic cuisine.

Thanks to its unique geographical location in central China, the city is constantly doused in bright yellow lights, and neatly constructed boulevards give the city a warm homely feel.

  • Temperature range: -4 (24.8) to 32 (89.6)
  • Best for: History buffs, world travelers, and expats looking for an authentic experience


The capital city of China is something to behold. With a history that goes back 3,000 years, any expat who appreciates the rich cultural history of China will enjoy their time in Beijing.


Apart from historical attractions such as the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, and the Great Wall, Beijing houses a sizable commercial district offering attractive job opportunities and modern bars.

  • Temperature range: -8 (17.6°F) to 31°C (87.8°F)
  • Best for: Those who enjoy history, culture, and big-city conveniences


And last but definitely not least, is Shanghai. Shanghai is perhaps the grandest and most commercially developed city in China. Shanghai is a perfect destination for expats for one simple reason: there’s always something for everyone.

The diversity of the city means that you can live a modern Western lifestyle with a city filled with Eastern traditions. Despite being one of the nation’s most developed cities, Shanghai takes pride in preserving old architecture. The combination of old-meets-new gives the city a unique flair.

  • Weather: 1 (33.8) to 32 (89.6)
  • Best for: Expats looking to live in a big city with endless corners to discover

Reach out to Pacific Prime

Whether you’re planning a trip to China or are already living there, it’s important that you’re always aware of the public health risks the country is facing. Finding the best city in China to live in can be hard but staying insured doesn’t have to be.

With our help, you’ll be able to compare a wide range of health insurance plans without any additional charge. Click here to contact us today!

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