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Living Cost in Kunming


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Hi Evreryone!

I am planning to enroll myself at Yunnan Normal University at the beggining of 2009 for 1 year initialy and I may continue another year for study. I want to live outside the campus of my own or with a chinese family. Is there anybody who have recent idea of living Kunming and the living expenditure. I am a simple man and I live very plain way. Any suggesstions in this regard will be highly appreciated.

Humayun Alam

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Welcome to join the expat team in km.

rental cost:

expect RMB350-1000. Many students live in 五华 district , which is the hub of most universities. Some old apartment at 3th or above floor (without a lift) can be very cheap. Check the estate agency around the district, but you have to pay a month rental payment as a commission. If you don't want this, try to google "昆明 地产" , a lot of websites can serve it. ( the classified ads in gokunming.com, as expected, is overpriced because they all target for english speaking laowai, but it's not bad to take it as a reference )

An apartment for single (around 40-50 square ft) is popular too. My friend rented a newly built and fully furnished apartment for RMB850 at 北市区, which is full of new estates for middle class in kunming.

Because you're going to enroll at the Normal University, try to check these estates and their neighboring areas:

丽江小区 and 实力北岸: 15 mins for riding a bike to the school, many new estates there.

苏家塘: popular place for students at the Normal university. It's older estate (not necessarily cheaper now), but only 3mins for riding bikes to your school.)


If you're going to stay there for a year, buy a electronic-bike. 都市风 is the cheapest choice (RMB1300-1500), 麦特龙 and 阿米尼 are the most famous (RMB1800 up). The lanes for bicycle are fairly well-developed in kunming. There's a road construction project in kunming now, and riding on bicycle can keep you away from the deteriorating traffic jam. If you can prevent it from being stolen (very serious in KM) and at least using it for 3-6 months, the cost of this bike should cover all expenditure on taxi and bus. To buy motorbikes, go to 西昌路. You can get all brands there.


Local taste can be very cheap, RMB3.5- 5 can make you full and RMB60 is the price for big restaurant. If you need western food, head to 文化巷, which is a small soho for expats to meet. Expect RMB30 to small lunch there. Salvador's is the most popular cafe among expats, 水井 possibly serve the best coffee, the best new york style cheese is served at Vintage cafe, and the atmosphere of prague cafe is nicest.


Internet at home is around RMB140 / month, around RMB120/ month if you sign a contract for a year. If you don't want this, bring a strong WIFI reciever (at least 10db). Free (and unsecure ) Wifi is getting popular.

But if don't have a notebook, try to stop by Hong Kong. Because of no sales tax and import tax, the offer is at least 15% cheaper than china. My thinkpad is even 20% cheaper.


Walmart and Carrefour are well developed in KM, but the best supermarket that serves western food is Metro (german chain store). They have small variety of cheese but expect 10-30% markup on this compared to the price at home. If you're concerned with home sick, take your home sauces and spices to kunming.


Offiicially you need a working visa, but no one is concerned with this. The most popular job for students is to teach english, from RMB30- 50 per hour. And some western restaurants run by local people are also eager to employ westerners. Pay for local waitress is often RMB2-5 per hour, don't expect much higher for westerners. (that's why some western waiters ask for free-of-charge food only)

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Internet at home is around RMB140 / month, around RMB120/ month if you sign a contract for a year.

That is way too expensive! I just renewed my annual contract with China Telecom, today.

¥660 for the year. ¥55 a month.

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just renewed my annual contract with China Telecom, today.

¥660 for the year. ¥55 a month

what.............? why is it happened? Is it in Kunming or guangxi?

my friend just set up an internet connection in KM for the first time, and the China Telecom charged him over RMB1000/year. Going to double check this.

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No point in comparing unless you are also comparing Internet speeds. Regardless, telecoms are run very much on a provincial / city level, and your local company will have its own pricing policy. Different cities, different prices.

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kunming adsl annual fee is 1018. (sorry i can't figger out the speed)

this includes 50 for the modem and 8 for install.

annual renewal fee is 960 (monthly fee is 150 for unlimited service).

fee to change address as you moved with time remaining on contract: 58

fee to change the name on your contract cause it's in your ex-girlfriend's name

and you don't have a copy of her id card: 10

interesting note.....you cannot change the physical residence address without her

id, but you can change the contract into your name, and then change the address.

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  • 1 year later...

You guys listed the prices for internet, but what about cable? Is it usually a package deal like in the US, or are they separate? Also, how much are utlities (water, etc) in addition to rent? I'm trying to establish a budget for a solid year in Kunming, and I want to include as many details/expenses as possible. Oh, and one more thing.. I have a cellphone that can use a sim card, how much would that be per month? Thanks in advance...

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Excellent advice, particular Zozzen. Can we have an update, please?

If it isn't too much of an imposition can KM residents provide a comparison of the different neighbourhoods in KM in terms of:

- cost

- transportation

- amenities

- green spaces

- safety

I plan to take a career break in 2011 and study Mandarin for a year in Kunming (in all likelihood at Keats). Like the original poster, I would like to rent a shared apartment after an initial 3 months living at Keats.

I'm also interested in getting a feel for the different areas, and for life in Kunming in general.

On the subject of bikes, it was mentioned in this thread that Kunming is particularly good for cycling (bicycle lanes). What is road safety like in Kunming, say to other cities? I ask this because riding a mountain bike in Yangshuo was both exhilarating and also scary as Chinese drivers seem to only have a notional sense of the purpose of different lanes i.e. over-taking by swerving into incoming traffic lane.

For any affidavit, I live in London and I refuse to ride a bike here. Too busy, no bicycle lanes and far too many idiotic drivers.

Also, one poster mentioned that bike thefts are a serious problem in Kunming. Is this still true even with decent bicycle locks?


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  • 3 months later...
Also, one poster mentioned that bike thefts are a serious problem in Kunming. Is this still true even with decent bicycle locks?

Hi putonghua73,

In whole China you should use decent locks and avoid to ride a good bike. It is not only related to Kunming.

You can buy a cheap bike for 100 yuans in Kunming and lock it decently. This way, even if it is stolen, it is not a big loss...

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