I also want to share that no matter where you are in China, the fucking GFW is going to ruin your internet experience to max
It's possible to live in Hong Kong on the cheap. You've got to live far out in the New Territories, or on an outlying island. I spent a summer living happily on Lamma Island for ~$500USD/month in rent for one bedroom in a shared flat. Rent is really the only tricky part--everything else is relatively cheap.
I lived and worked (at a law firm) in Chengdu for about 3 months. I absolutely loved the city! It's so different from east coast China, especially given the Tibetan influences in many areas. I had a company arrange my apartment and registrations, but was a seamless process. I am a white, American male who speaks a decent bit of Mandarin, and I found the locals to be incredibly hospitable. China is general is extremely affordable for a Westerner, and Chengdu offers the luxuries of any large, Western city/metro area.
My favorite place in China. Best months of the year are April to October. Any who loves rivers, mountains, rock climbing, caves, rafting, etc. will love it here. Biggest reccommendation, buy or rent a scooter and go exploring! There's so much to see. I made a lot of Chinese and international friends while studying Chinese here (Omeida Chinese Academy: www.omeidachinese.com ) That made my experience even better.
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