Living as a Foreign English Teacher in Wuhan

What do we know about Wuhan except for coronavirus? We’ll look at what the city has to offer and what makes it an appealing choice for those looking to live and teach English in China.

Dubbed the “Chinese Chicago,” Wuhan has long been a top choice from many foreigners to come and teach English. And as the motto goes, “武汉每天不一样” meaning Wuhan is different every day. The city has rapidly developed in such a short period of time, making it a magnet in the middle of China. For those unfamiliar with Wuhan, the city has a long and deep history and is located in the Hubei province in central China.

What Makes Wuhan Popular?

👔 Jobs

Wuhan offers heaps of jobs to foreigners in the education department with over 260 different institutions, which include both colleges and public schools. There are also over 100 international centers that specialize in language teaching.

🀄 Learn Mandarin

Teaching English is great and all, but what makes Wuhan an ideal place for teachers, are those looking to learn Chinese Mandarin. There’s more of an opportunity to explore authentic Chinese culture given the city is more traditional compared to the larger, more international cities on the coast. In Wuhan, the locals are very hospitable and are more direct compared to other places in China. So getting the opportunity to converse will be more likely. Keep in mind that there may be a feeling you get when the Wuhan dialect is spoken. It’s loud and to-the-point. You may even see fights on the streets, which isn’t good, but shows just how straightforward people are with each other. Learn the language, but try and not come off too aggressive!

🏕️ Leisure

There are tons of things to do in Wuhan. The city has a lot to offer, and with the nightlife and themed pubs are a highlight. Your Friday nights won’t ever be boring, that’s for sure! We know, we know, entertainment isn’t always about the nightlife, hitting up pubs, or all about going out. Wuhan has a rich and beautiful history with sites like the emblematic Yellow Crane Tower, the Guiyuan Buddhist temple, and the Provincial Museum. Also, hit up the Happy Valley amusement park or meet up with the thriving ex-pat community for drinks or tea.

🚊 Transportation

Wuhan is split into thirds by the Changjiang and Hanjiang rivers. If you’re looking to zip across town, then you’re in for a slow ride as transportation can take hours of driving or bussing from place to place. Wuhan is always growing, so there tends to be a lot of construction and traffic is pretty terrible. Short trips using public transportation are the most convenient.

⛅ Weather

When they mention that Wuhan is different every day, many jokingly claim that this is related mostly to the weather. But, if you enjoy hot summers and mild winters, then Wuhan maybe your city of choice. Some complain that the weather can be unbearable, humid, and has a hot 33C/91F temperature during the summer. Over the winter, it rarely dips below 0C/32F. Wuhan is considered one of the “three furnaces” of China, so it’s crucial to have AC on those hot summer days. Air purifiers are also recommended. September rarely sees rainfall, and during the fall, it’ll be drier than spring and summer.

💸 Cost of Living

If you’re a foreigner, mostly everything is pretty affordable. Prices are low, and the cost of a meal ranges from around $2.50 to $7.50 if you eat out at a restaurant. $0.75 for 0.5 liters (16 fl. Oz.) of local beer. It’s around $22 for a monthly bus or subway pass. If you’re looking to stay in shape, gyms charge less than $50 per month.

🤘 Chinese Punk Rock

Many may argue between Wuhan or Beijing being the birthplace for Chinese Punk Rock, but many would consider Wuhan to be the true birthplace due to the song “All the Same” (都一样), the self-proclaimed “first Chinese punk song” by UnderBaby and “Scream For Life” by SMZB. Wuhan has more of the working class performing in the underbelly of the city compared to the middle-class Beijing punks. If you’re into punk rock, then Wuhan may be the place for you.

🔬 Universities and Research Centers

Wuhan has the most amount of university students in China and the world with over 1 million each year. Some claim it to be a “young” city. Every year many freshmen come to Wuhan to study, and many who graduate decide to stay and work in the city. The number of human resources in Wuhan made it the backbone of the city’s development in the future.

🍜 Are You Hungry?

Wuhan’s local cuisine is a combo of traditional dishes, some of which also include Shanghai-style cooking. Make sure to try tang-bao soup buns, chili-spiced pigeons, and doupi (mushrooms, eggs, beans, beef, and rice in a wrap). Hot-dry noodles are also a must-try food.

🤑 How much money can one earn in Wuhan?

Average foreigners’ salaries in Wuhan are around 13K RMB ($1,900). Teachers who are just starting out and who may be inexperienced, teaching Wuhan can get you between 10-12K RMB, which still allows you to take trips, eat out, and live a comfortable lifestyle. The cost of living in Wuhan paired with the salary’s teachers get to make it possible for foreigners to save quite a bit of disposable income.

Yellow Crane Tower 🗼

Wuhan City Centre - Photo by Laurentiu Morariu

Make sure to visit Wuhan University to see the cherry blossoms in the spring. When the sun's out, go and cycle around East Lake park (Wuhan’s 5A scenic spot has an excellent greenway around the lake which was recently built). The greenway is an ideal spot for joggers, cyclists, and walkers. Climb up the Yellow Crane Tower to take in the cityscape up from above. There are plenty of places to visit and things to do in Wuhan. As an English teacher, you’re sure to find a great lifestyle here in Wuhan.