Those with polished resumes can find work at one of the hordes of multinational corporations rushing to take advantage of China’s entry into the modern economy. At the very least one might be able to find a gig as a liaison helping interpret for headquarters in the US and Europe.
English teaching jobs are abundant in Beijing and can pay moderately well depending on where one teaches. 100 to 150 RMB per class is typical in schools, with the pay increasing to 250 RMB an hour for corporate teaching gigs. Bigger possibilities to save, though, can be found in Korea and Japan so it’s probably only advisable to teach in Beijing if there’s something that attracts you to the culture. Another good opportunity is to work for a tour agency catering to westerners who need more help than the Chinese can give.
Beijing is a cheap city to live in, though, and one doesn’t need much cash to get by. The currency is the Renminbi and is about 7 to the US dollar. Lunch, if you stay clear of western chains, is usually 15 RMB or less. Triple that for a good dinner at a restaurant. Rents aren’t so cheap, unfortunately, with flats running at more than 1500 RMB a month. Beer is cheap except at bars where the markup is high, for instance 20 RMB for a Tsing Tao is typical.