Teaching in South China: Guangzhou or Shenzhen

China as we all know is one of the most important countries in the world based on its economic position. Since the country is a worldwide economic hub, China’s need for English speakers increases day by day. It is for that reason that China has emerged as an important country in international education.

Guangzhou and Shenzhen are two cities amongst many others that provide opportunities for ex-pat teachers. Now normally, one would only avail of such opportunities based on appeal and practicality.

Both cities provide close proximity to Hong Kong and an urbanized living experience filled with modern architecture as well as historical sights and bustling markets. They also offer a metropolitan lifestyle that some may prefer. Here are some reasons for considering any of the two cities as your teaching destination.

Intro to Guangzhou

Guangzhou, located near the head of the Pearl River in southern China, is the capital of the Guangdong province. The city is one of China’s main commercial and trading centers due to its position of being at the meeting point of the inland rivers and the sea. Guangzhou is also one of China’s largest cities and was historically a major port for the Silk Road.

The city boasts modern commerce significance by hosting the annual Canton Fair, the oldest and largest trade fair in China, and is one of the most expensive real estate markets. Guangzhou’s size and population and large volumes of port traffic, the city is also considered as a Large-Port city i.e. it is the largest type of port city in the world.  In addition to that, Guangzhou is an important international city and hosts 65 foreign representatives adding to the metropolitan experience.

Guangzhou is a highly important city in terms of education. It acts as host to numerous prestigious institutes such as Sun Yat-sen University, South China University of Technology, Jinan University to name a few. This makes the city have a high output for scientific research. To teach English in Guangzhou would mean to be situated at the center of one of the biggest cities in China surrounded by futuristic architecture and an ever-growing economic market.

Why Choose Guangzhou for Teaching in China

  1. Capital City of Southern China

As an ex-pat, you may be pleased to know that due to Guangzhou being the provincial capital it hosts most countries’ embassies thus making it easy to travel. One edge Guangzhou has over Shenzhen is that Shenzhen has no embassies, therefore, creating a need to travel to Guangzhou in the first place!

  • Affordability

Despite being a capital city, Guangzhou is much more affordable to live in compared to Shenzhen and Hong Kong. In fact, the cost of living in Shenzhen is around 26% higher when compared to the cost of living in Guangzhou. So if you’re on a tighter budget, this may just be the modern city for you.

  • A Mix of Antiquity and Modernity

Though over the years the city has seen many advancements, Guangzhou has managed to preserve a lot of its old city districts and landmarks. One may still find many historical sights while traversing the city such as the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and the Yuexiu park both located in the Yuexiu district.

  • Proximity to Hong Kong

The city is only a 2-hour train ride away from Hong Kong which is one of the most developed cities in the world. Similarly, Hong Kong supports a more diverse mix of people and nationalities so one may choose a holiday there to reinvigorate their sense of belonging.

Intro to Shenzhen

Situated on the east bank of the Pearl River in the southern province of Guangdong is Shenzhen, the fourth most populous city of China. It is a special economic zone in China and is immediately north of Hong Kong. Shenzhen is a global center in research, manufacturing, technology finance alongside being a port-city making it the world’s fourth busiest container port.

Historically, Shenzhen was a small border city that only served as a customs stop for Hong Kong from mainland China. However, in the past 40 years, the city grew at a phenomenal rate which allowed it to act as a model city for other coastal cities.

The city is dubbed by the media as China’s Silicon Valley due to its position as a leading global technology center. Moreover, the city acts host to multinational firms such as Huawei and holding company Tencent. The city’s entrepreneurial and economic nature gives room for the cultivation of more small-scaled software houses and manufacturing companies.

The city also has notable educational institutes such as Shenzhen University and Southern University of Science and Technology which assist it in being the 28th largest scientific research output of any city in the world.

Why Choose Shenzhen for Teaching in China

  1. Transportation

Due to its nature as a port-city, Shenzhen has an immaculate transport system. Railways in the city connect to Guangzhou, north of Beijing and east of the Fujian province. Additionally, there is an international airport on the outskirts of the city making it a simple task to get in and out of the city. The city also has its own Metro system making inter-city travel fast and accessible.

  • Proximity with Hong Kong

Shenzhen is directly north of Hong Kong and boasts different options of transport to get there. A high-speed rail for those with a visa makes the commute as quick as 15 minutes offering a daily outing into the city if need be. Teaching English in Shenzhen would mean being able to access separate teaching opportunities in Hong Kong as well!

  • Foreigner Friendly

Although the city is the fourth most populated city in China it boasts a strong sense of community which extends to the international community there as well. Though the ex-pat community is not as well developed as compared to Chinese cities such as Shanghai there are enough foreigners to feel right at home.

  • Natural Attractions

One would think Shenzhen is a concrete jungle, and they would be right, however,  the government has invested heavily in natural attractions. Due to being near the coast, Shenzhen also has many beaches and parks but the main attraction would be the Shenzhen Bay Park which is a beautiful oasis stretching up to 13 kilometers. It’s not one of the best parks in the city, but one of the best parks in all of China.


Both cities as discussed offer a high standard of living due to the metropolitan nature achieved through trade and economic prowess. The demand for English teachers in China only increases daily thus at the end of the day, the choice lies with you whether to live in Shenzhen or Guangzhou.