When I first came to Chengdu 5 years ago I was living on about 3000 a month but those were not good times for me. I was extremely underweight (145lbs 5’7″)and really had to limit my social events.
Now I’m more concerned about maintaining more muscle mass (160 lbs) so I’m eating a lot more protein (meat!!!) and more calories. I guess it comes down to defining “healthy food” which differs with each lifestyle. I’m probably splurging on things like butter, bacon, coffee, chicken, beef, sausage, cheese etc.
I’ve also made a lot more friends throughout the years which means more social outings, more gift giving, and more social dining which really ramps up the spending and I think it’s worth it.
Certain utilities have also gone up like internet and phone data as well as the availability of recreational “medicines”.
So whereas I think it’s certainly possible to survive on 2500 RMB or less (like many Chinese do), but it would not be an enjoyable existence in my opinion. I’d like to see the budget of someone that can to prove me wrong though. I’m always looking for ways to save a little extra.