Living Cost in Shanghai (2009 Edition)

I have published a series of articles on Living Cost of Shanghai (2002 Edition, and 2007 Edition). Let me continue to update this pure unofficial one-man effort index of the living cost of this city. It is not only a annual update, it is in the new background of global financial crisis, and I try to analyze its impact to living cost in Shanghai.

Please note: 1 USD = 6.80 RMB as this article is written. (It was 7.75 on January 22, 2007)

What is Not Changed

Since more of the information included in my Living Cost 2007 Edition didn’t change too much, please refer to the original article for most of the items. I will only update the changed items.


On Transportation, the Living Cost 2007 Edition is still up to date: 2 RMB for most buses, 3-6 RMB for metro ride (3 is most possible), 2.1 RMB/km starting from 11 RMB (including 3 km), and 2 RMB single way ferry…

You may also check out the Daily Cost of a Tourist article for tourist specific transportation cost.



A can of Coke now is 1.60 RMB, higher than 2007. For example, this online store sells 24 cans 355ml at 38.6 RMB. Most restaurants charges premium for serving coke – 5 RMB to 8 RMB is normal price.


Let me also give you example. A can of Tsingtao Beer (355ml) costs 3.8 RMB


Most of the items in my 2007 Edition is still valid today. The price range is from 10 RMB to 100 RMB per person.

There is something new today. There are more and more fast food chain appearing on the streets. Just like KFC, McDonald’s, they offer standard food, nice location, clean environment, but much more expensive than local noodle shop. Their food is at 20-30 RMB range.

House Rental

There is a big change since the 2007 Edition. You can safely add 50% to all the numbers I gave in that report.

The premium housing price has been up to something like 15,000 – 45,000 RMB per month (for nice places in Xujiahui area for a family).

The normal price also raises to 3000-5000 RMB.

Room sharing ranges from 800-1500 RMB in good areas. (Check Room Sharing to get a sense of room sharing. Disclaimer: I am the CEO of


Most of the other items are not changed since 2007 too much (where are the increase of CPI, Consumer Price Index?)

37 thoughts on “Living Cost in Shanghai (2009 Edition)

  1. I think everything is fine. Beer is cheap. But Rental for a apartment or room is tremendously high !

    I wonder how much a person needs to earn to be able to afford that type of rental. How much they pay for a new recruit teacher in Shanghai without experience ???

  2. @kbguy, to live in Shanghai is not easy. The rate I quoted are pretty near the city center. However, if you don’t mind spending one hour or more on the road, you can always find some pretty good places outside the Inner Ring, or even Outer Ring.

    On the salary side, it seems to be running to another extreme – with so many people without a job, the salary level is getting flat (if not negative) this year.

  3. Hi,

    how about the cost of buying an apartment? I read that Shenzhen is down about 30%. What’s the story in Shanghai nowadays? Last year I remember that a place near Minsheng Lu on Line 6 was about $250k USD (1.5m rmb?) for a 2 bedroom. What would it be like now?

    xie xie!

  4. I have been Canada for one year. I think people who live there is easier than in China. If you earn $2000 there, you can live very comfortable. But if you earn 2000RMB in Shanghai or Beijing, you can’t live as comfortable as Canada. Maybe you will say if I earn $2000, I can live very comfortable in China. But, the fact is you use $ to live in Canada, not RMB. So, we just compare the number not the kinds of currency. According to this , we can tell how difficult to live in the big city of China.

  5. I live about 3km away from the centre of shanghai and rent a 3 bedroom flat for 6000/m. Not only hasn’t the rent gone up since I moved here in 2007, but the rent of similar-sized flats nearby have all gone down. In fact the more expensive the rent the more they have been reduced. One place has gone from 10000/m to 7000/m (I know because my uncle owns the place).

    I haven’t renegotiated my rent though out of sheer laziness :)

    So at least around here in luwan/xuhui district the rental market for larger flats is struggling. Of course if you want to buy the place it’s a completely different story. The average price for flats like mine have gone from 2mil to 3.5mil. Though even there it’s supposedly a buyer’s market, except you have to negotiate just as you would in your average Chinese market, start by subtracting 1 million from the asking price.

  6. I have been in Shanghai for 5 years,3 years graduate study.worked for 2 year.I and My girlfriend are master.

    For us,i think i should save 3 years for a small second hand house(50 m*m)

  7. Jian, I think there is no control in pricing for alot of things in china. Rental is definitely one of them.

    Another things are shopping goods. No doubt, the trader may decide whatever price they want to sell, and it is the freedom right of the buyer to buy or not to buy. However in China, for the same particular product, eg. 5 different shops at the same street can quote a price ranges from 1000 yuan to 50 yuan. And surprisingly, you can buy this same particular product (made in China) in Singapore or Malaysia for only 30 yuan !! Sometime I pity the Chinese in China too..

  8. Jian, Shanghai is more or less similar as HK but you can still get somewhere the cost is lower, much much more better than Hong Kong. Anyhow, it is interest to read your blog ;-P …. very nice !!

    cocoina, Hong Kong

  9. When we moved to Helsinki from Shanghai, I thought I would never go out to eat, buy new clothes or have a beer on a terrace during a sunny day again. The prices for everything inspired “shock & awe” in my family. Two years into our move, we are a bit desensitized, but dinner out has gone from 3-4 times a week, to twice a month. And I buy new clothes in the USA, where prices these days are beginning to resemble those in the old Xiang Yang market!

    Jiao pinching in Finland,


  10. Can you comment on cost of health insurance (medical/dental/vision) in Shanghai? You mentioned 3000 RBM in 2007.. is this still true and is that on a monthly basis?



  11. Hello. Can someone tell me how to find a sub-lease apartment in pu dong shang hai.

  12. Hi,

    I’m planning to move to Shanghai january 2010. I’ve been searching about Sanghai and I would appreciate to have your help. The company that I will work for is located in Pinghu. Can you tell me a nice place for a young couple + pet to live in shanghai ? If possible, somewhere easy to go to Pinghu.

  13. Hello,

    I tend to go to Shanghai on Jan 2009 to study language. I want to find sharing room mates in downtown apartment, would you mind to give me range cost to rent an apartment?

  14. hi all, can anyone tell me how much I can get for architect job in Shanghai? FYI, I have 3-4 years of job experience in China. Thanks in advance for the info. All the best for you guys.

  15. hi, my husband had a job offer somewhere 2 hrs from Beijing(forgot the name of the place)which has the salary of 7000 RMB. But he had a package deal which includes the apartment,healthcare and roundtrip fare..etc..I was just wondering if how much is the average wage for expats?Is it enough to save before going back home to USA.I wanted to ask first before we accept the job offer.Appreciate the help.Thanks and God Bless!

  16. Great site for information, thanks. I have been offered a job in Shanghai, it pays 20,000 RMB a month (net) and 6000 RMB for housing. Would that be suitable for a family of 4 to live off in Shanghai?? Nothing too fancy, eat at home, drink at home etc…

  17. Hi all..Anyone has an idea what is the price range of 2 bedrooms apartman rentals? I am going to study Chinese language in Shanghai.May be a master after that.And i am wondering that if it’s possible finding a job with a reasonable salary? I studied International Trade and Management and worked for 2 years in my motherland.Thanx..

  18. Hi, I’ve been searching quite a while on living costs in Shanghai since I would like to move there for a few months to work on personal projects..I was thinking: why spend so much in Copenhagen when I can do the same projects elsewhere but with lower costs ?!

    To CAL: it seems that on 10 000RMB/month, no housing included, it is possible to live ok, as local people. So in your case, 20 000+ housing, it seems very good especially if you plan to buy your food in local markets etc..

    I wish I had that opportunity as well!

  19. Would like to know what’s the average pay for a senior financial accountant position in a international company?

    Is RMB 27,000 /mth (after tax) ok pay?


  20. Hi all, new to this forum. Me and my wife are moving back to China (Shanghai) in Jan-2010. Were looking to rent an apartment in Minhang district with 2-3 bedrooms and 1-2 bathrooms. Can anyone suggest what we might expect to pay ? Also, what about gas, water etc…

    If anyone knows of any suitable apartments please let me know on this forum.

    Thanks all

  21. I would budget RMB4000-6000 for a decent apartment in Minhang. Minhang is a huge district. You can get lower rents if you go further away from the center or in older apartments. Rents have gone up since earlier this year by 10-15%.

    Suggest you post real estate questions on shanghaiexpat where there some industry professionals are active.

  22. Hi..any advice or ideal/suggestion can provided if I want to rent a apartment nearby Shang Cheng Road, Pudong New Area?

    Your comments and input will highly appreciate…

  23. Hi,

    thanks for taking time to share your experience. By the way the room sharing web site is in chinese! Any possibility to get one in french or english? thanks.

  24. Hi, I’m thinking about taking up a teaching offer in an International school in Shanghai in 2010. My husband is retired. While my days will be fully occupied what is there for a retired male to do in Shanghai besides playing golf? Is there anything like four wheel drive clubs?

  25. Hi for all the discussion for price comparisons. This is a good attempt to compare cost to other countries.

    Be aware it does not take into account differences in social securities, premiums and that kind of stuff.

    Use the Big Mac index as it represents a lot of differents things.

    There are better mechanisms.

    But this one is good for it’s simplicity.

    For example USA/China ppp rate 3.50

    Earning 2000 USD in china would compare to earning 7000 USD in the USA

    Earning 2000 RMB in china would compare to earning 2000/6.834*3.5=1025 USD in the USA

    Roughly said to compare RMB to USD is 2:1 2000 RMB is equivalent to 1000 USD

  26. Are you travelling in china ? There are other options than living in the expensive hotel , you can live as a homestay . It would be great idea if you are interested in learning chinese culture and chinese language . When you live as a homestay you might have to teach english to the home owner .Some will allow you to live free for teaching owner English. You can find this information in this site www.

  27. I have been offered a job of 14000K in Sozhou China. Kindly advice is that enough to stay in Sozhou with 2 Bedroom apartment. I shall come with my wife and small kid.

    How easy it is to change job in China? I belong to IT profession.

    Kindly help!

  28. Hi, I’ll be graduating from an American university in May and was recently offered a position in Shanghai at a software development company. The company will be paying for my apartment, flight, and giving me a 1000USD/month salary. Will 6800RMB be a reasonable salary in Shanghai?

    Thanks so much for your help!

  29. Hi! i’m going to study in shenghai next year, so i’d like to know about the payment in shenghai, the first, i want to know about the food, clothes, education and another are they expensive? How much a person spend per month in average?

    I got chinese the govenmentscolarhip to study at there

    Please let me know about it because i’m look forward to hear that.

    thanks so much for your help

  30. Hi I have been offered 45,000 RMB per month in Shanghai (pre-tax). What would be my take home net? Is it good money to live a decent life with my wife & two kids?

  31. Hi I am considering a career move to Shanghai. I am still doing some due diligence on living cost, rent, food, entertainment, general spending etc…

    I know that rent is the biggest expense but would pay for an apartment that is about the same level of comfort as what I would get in the USA. So far from what I can see in pictures, a 2-bedroom would run about 14,000 RMB per month, which is what I pay in equivalency in the USA.

    My monthly salary is 100,000 RMB before tax (tax is 45%). therefore only 55,000 RMB after tax. Is this a decent salary?? I am still negotiating this amount, should I ask for a little bit more??

    If you are an expat, can you please give me some advise??


  32. Hi…

    I’m in the UK and will be interviewed for a job in Shanghai shortly, as an experienced software engineer, for a large-ish company (US & Europe based).

    I have no knowledge or experience of Shanghai ( or China ) and don’t know how much salary to expect for this kind of job and would appreciate typical ballpark figures. Thanks.

    I plan to stay there for maybe 3 to 5 years, experience the culture, see the sights and so on before considering returning to Europe.

  33. Is 2000 USD sufficient for one week spent on shopping?

    Cannot wait to get a reply

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