Cost of Living
Guangzhou is the cheapest 1st tier city in China. Housing, food, and your daily living expenses will be cheaper than Shanghai, Beijing, or Shenzhen. As a single, foreign born adult — expect to spend at least 8,000 RMB per month.
Weather / Air Quality
Among the 1st tier cities in China Guangzhou ranks second in terms of air quality. Beijing’s air is obviously the worst. Shanghai and Guangzhou are pretty close — but I think Guangzhou gets the slight edge. Shenzhen definitely has the best air quality out of the large cities.
For weather — Guangzhou is HOT and HUMID. It’s VERY HUMID. I’d say Guangzhou has three seasons. I’m going to arbitrarily make three distinctions — based on my own personal feelings:
- Spring(March-June) Miserable humidity. Everything feels wet. Clothes, paper, and other sensitive materials can mold if you’re not careful.
- Summer(June-November) From June to about the end of August the humidity is still high. High enough to make you very uncomfortable. Around September, though, the weather starts to dry out — making September, October, and November the most pleasant months in Guangzhou.
- Winter(December-February) Cool and dry. It can feel more cold than it actually is due to the lack of heaters in many places. Public transportation and major shopping centers will, of course, be heated. Many people don’t have heating in their homes, though.
Overall, Shenzhen beats Guangzhou in both weather and air quality. The weather is better in Shenzhen due to its proximity to the ocean — so the air doesn’t feel so stagnant and humid.
Jobs & Economy
If you’re a small businessman, Guangzhou is probably the ideal place to be. The surrounding areas abound in factories of every type — so if you’re into the export business then Guanghzou is quite a favorable place to be. Places like Beijing and Shenzhen have many more tech jobs. I think many foreigners in Beijing and Shanghai have been sent there by large, multi-national corporations.
The Pearl River Delta itself is a massive place — with over 40,000,000 people living in the area. If you’re looking for some kind of opportunity — with enough work you should be able to find it here. The surrounding cities of Foshan, Zhongshan, Zhuhai, Dongguan, and Shenzhen make GZ a centrally located place to base your life or business operations.
Food & Nightlife
I haven’t spent much time in the other 1st tier cities to make a direct comparison — but I’d guess, based on what I’ve heard, that Beijing and Shanghai have much better nightlifes than Guangzhou. Guangzhou’s recent center for night life (Xing Sheng Lu) was recently to some regulations — and that street is much more quiet and less fun than it used to be.
Guangzhou’s bar/club scene is expensive and quite limited. If you want to eat some foreign food you could easily end up paying 100+ for a meal that isn’t really that satisfying.
Guangzhou has the best Chinese food I’ve had. I’ve traveled a decent amount — but no other food in China can compare to a well prepared Cantonese dinner. Some people might contend that Cantonese food is boring and bland — but once you get used to the subtle skills and flavors I think you’ll really appreciate it.