Shenzhen bay
(Photo from Bing)

Teaching English in Shenzhen:

Teaching English in Shenzhen has much to offer in terms of making money, saving money, career development, and general lifestyle.

Teaching English in Shenzhen is like teaching in many other parts of China, or the world. If you are from one of the seven native speaking countries, have a bachelor's degree, specialized in English language teaching, have much teaching experience, etc. then you will be more competitive. Even if you do not meet all the conditions above, you can still build a reputation for excellent performance, and become successful that way.

After all, the best way to ensure a teaching job is to build a reputation for excellent teaching, personable manners with children, lots of relevant school assignments, and be presentable in school events. Reputation goes a long way in China. In the long-term, teachers with mediocre credentials but excellent performance can beat out those with an attractive face but lack reliability and commitment.

The entire economy of Shenzhen is still a new field, and developing rapidly. If you have ambition, vision, drive, and excellent teaching skills, you can make a place for yourself in Shenzhen.

ESL Jobs in Shenzhen

Of all the different manifestations of education, ESL teaching is the most common teaching a foreigner will participate in.

In general, anyone who has taught ESL knows it can be a field of unprofessional people, in between jobs or university education, who want to earn some money by entertaining others. However, for those who take the profession seriously, seek always to get more training and experience, it can be a gratifying field.

Shenzhen has always had a unique appeal, due to its geographic location right next to Hong Kong. Thirty years ago, salaries for teaching English in Shenzhen were about 300 USD for Shenzhen, 2000 USD a month for Hong Kong. Now, it has come to about 3000 USD a month for English teaching in Shenzhen, and about 3000 USD a month for Hong Kong.

Many teachers have taken advantage of Hong Kong's diplomatic relations with the outside world. In years past, it was possible to have a tourist visa, business visa, or marriage visa to mainland China, work in Shenzhen (or nearby). If any visa renewal period was happening, somebody could spend a day in Hong Kong and return. However, recently, China has stepped up its efforts so that no visa rules are broken. Hefty fines, detainment, and even deportation results.

As far as specific ESL jobs, the entire industry is classified similarly to other parts in China. The different sectors are preschool and kindergarten, elementary schools, middle and high schools, universities, private training centers and tutorial services, adult business English.

There are two critical distinctions of the Shenzhen market: the absence of dominant public institutions, and the presence of many small, distinctive firms.  

In other cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, big, established public institutions create international programs, satellite campuses, etc. In Shenzhen, there are no several dozen key public schools, etc. that build this reputation. Instead, it is small businessmen trying to start international programs, etc.

Many international programs have received vast amounts of funding, allowing them to build standalone campuses. Additionally, many English training centers, both in skyscrapers and small stores, have come up.

In all these cases, there is a newness to Shenzhen, which means disorganization and not many set rules. It also allows ambitious, hard-working, results-oriented people to be able to make gains quicker than established markets like Beijing, Shanghai, or even mid-tier cities like Chengdu. Add to it the amount of new technology and wealth that Shenzhen has, and ESL in Shenzhen can be a fairly lucrative market.

How Much Do You Get Paid to Teach English in Shenzhen?

The avarage salary for ESL teaching in Shenzhen is ¥17,359 ($2,450) - ¥22,934 ($3,302) per month. According to Shenzhen City & Salary 2020 Research Report:

Type of schoolMonthly Basic Salary 
International School¥18,245 ($2,616) - ¥24,617 ($3,530)
Kindergarten¥17,481 ($2,507) - ¥22,375 ($3,209)
Training center ¥16,352 ($2,345) - ¥21,810 ($3,128)

Requirements for Different Types of Employers in Shenzhen:

Types of SchoolRequirements
International SchoolsNative English speakers (in principle from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa);

Bachelor's degree or above (Degree needs to be certified by your local PRC Embassy);

At least two years of relevant teaching experience;

 Non-criminal record.
Kindergartens Native English speakers (in principle from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa);

Bachelor's degree or above (Degree needs to be certified by your local PRC Embassy);

One to two years experience in teaching children;

Non-criminal record.
Training centers Native English Speakers (In principle from UK, U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and South Africa);

Bachelor degree or above (Degree needs to be authenticated by your local PRC Embassy);

One to two years of relevant English teaching experienceTEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate (Sometimes preferred);

Non-criminal record.

Living in Shenzhen, China

Transformed from a fishing village 40 years ago, Shenzhen is now considered one of China's most modern and innovative metropolises full of charm and energy. Teaching jobs in Shenzhen will offer you an opportunity to experience China at full speed of development.

In general, Shenzhen is seen as a modern, rapidly developing city. With the recent implementation of 5G and other modern conveniences, it is, in some ways, one of the most technologically advanced places in the world. Still, there is the traditional aspect of China: crowded streets, dirtiness, side alley shops, etc. that you will need to accustom yourself to.

Indeed, any modern city development (such as buses or a subway) or creature comforts such as malls, etc. can be had in Shenzhen as much as any other big city in China. Failing such convenience, the developed, modern, and unrestricted Hong Kong is only a one-hour commute away.

Shenzhen is one of China's economic centers, with an economy that is ranked fourth in mainland China, and now ranks just behind Shanghai and Beijing as one of the most economically dynamic cities in mainland China.

Shenzhen city at a glance
Photo from Trip)

What to Do in Shenzhen:

Things to Do in Shenzhen

There are more than one hundred attractions throughout Shenzhen, including artificial theme parks, coastal resorts, shopping plazas, natural ecological parks, and historic sites.

Theme Parks

Shenzhen is a famous theme park capital. Window of the World, Splendid China - Chinese Folk Culture Village, Happy Valley, and OCT East Theme Park are the epitome of the fusion of Chinese and world cultures.

Living in Shenzhen: beautiful theme park
(Photo from ArrivalGuides)

Beautiful Coastline

Shenzhen has a large number of coastal scenic spots, including Shenzhen Bay, the Mangrove Nature Reserve, and the 15 km coastal leisure corridor in the west, and Zhong Ying Street, Dameisha, and Xiaameisha beaches, Sea World and the Dapeng Peninsula in the east.

Shopping and Dining

Shenzhen is a shopping paradise with many international luxury and local goods. This culturally diverse city offers a variety of cuisines, from Western to local street food.

With thousands of restaurants, visitors can sample delicious dishes that represent countless cultures. Pub streets, including those of Sea World at Shekou, Window of the World, and Coco Park, offer great options for nighttime bar-goers.

Living in Shenzhen: shopping mall
(Photo from 669pic)

Cost of Living in Shenzhen

According to NUMBEO,

• Four-person family monthly costs: $2,098.40 (¥14,844.48) without rent.

• A single person monthly costs: $578.57 (¥4,092.89) without rent.

• Cost of living index in Shenzhen is 55.21% lower than in New York.

• Rent in Shenzhen is, on average, 75.40% lower than in New York.

• Cost of living rank 284th out of 481 cities in the world.

Where to Live in Shenzhen:

In 2015, foreigners living in Nanshan District and Futian District account for 65.8% of all foreigners in the city, according to Shenzhen Foreign Affairs Service Center. Apart from these two districts, Shekou District is also another wonderful neighbourhood for expats to live in. All these three districts are popular business and entertainment districts with life convenience and advanced infrastructure.

See the picture below to find out the exact location of these districts.

Living in Shenzhen: location of districts
(Picture from Shenzhen Shopper)

Apartment rent in Shenzhen normally ranges based on its location, decoration and other relative factors. In general, the newer and more luxurious the real estate development, the closer to the beach or a central business district, or the closer to well-known schools, the more expensive rent will be.

Shenzhen Metro System

The Shenzhen metro system is one of the most extensive and modern in China. However, unlike a centralized city like Beijing, the subway system, and the city itself is spread out in a rectangular pattern. One strength of such a diversified building plan is that there are many schools, interesting attractions, etc. at all parts of the city; yet, there are few central parts where someone goes for employment, fun, etc. Nonetheless, for all a foreigner or domestic Chinese mainlander needs, Shenzhen offers many different places to enjoy, and several efficient public transportation methods to get there.

You can see the following map, and visit websites or apps such as Shenzhen Metro and Shenzhen Metro guide for more information about the Shenzhen metro system.

Living in Shenzhen: metro system map
(Map from Bendibao)

Is Shenzhen Safe?

Shenzhen is quite safe.

Even though general precautions should be followed, especially for pickpockets, or leaving valuables in plain sight, Shenzhen is a place where you do not need to fear violent crime, etc.

If you look at crime statistics or walk around the streets, you can see that a society with no guns, a strong government presence, and severe penalties for crime deters most criminals.

Most people who are crime victims tend to face much more subtle crimes: employers not paying what is owed, wrongful termination, working on an improper visa, bar scams, taxis running a meter excessively, or other shady deals. Violent crime is rare and tends only to occur among foreigners, such as with drunk and disorderly conduct.

In general, China is a safe country where anyone can walk down the street without fear.

Shenzhen City Report
Sign in to download the report

Unlock the single city report