Do You Believe in Living Cost Index?

The big difference between really living in a city and not is, you have better sense of the relative environment of a city.

There are many reports on living cost. Shanghai sometimes ranked very high in the list – in the top 10 most expensive cities. The recent 2005 report says, Shanghai is the 30th most expensive city in the world. One of the key factor is the change of RMB price.

What is the Standard

I don’t doubt that the report has been generated in a scientific way. However, I don’t know what the standard they are using. I didn’t check out the questionnaire, but I guess they may use a western standard. For example: the price of Hamburg. The price of a Golf course, the price of car, the price of apartment, the price of gym…

The problem is, there are many things like Golf and Gym that is not necessary in the life of Shanghai. The average cost of those rare activities is much more expensive than many cities, just like everywhere in the world. People in Shanghai can make good live with only several thousands RMB, while using the standard,, 10K USD may not be enough.

Living the Chinese Way

So my conclusion is, living the U.S. way in Shanghai is much more expensive than living the U.S. way in U.S., but to live in the Chinese way in Shanghai is much more cheaper than living the U.S. way in U.S.

29 thoughts on “Do You Believe in Living Cost Index?

  1. In my view price of living in Shanghai is high. My girlfriend has an

    income of 4000yuan each month, but renting a little house costs her

    nearly 1000yuan, then, after eating and buying clothes, little is

    left. So I think that to some degree living shanghai is expensive.

    Lastly, I post this message successfully.

  2. sometime it is cheap in shanghai.

    I have an income of 3000 RMB/month.

    rent for a house:500

    eating fee:900

    buy cloth:300


  3. Jian Shuo, let me correct your conclusion “living the U.S. way in Shanghai is much more expensive than living the U.S. way in U.S.”. The correct conclusion should be ” living the AVERAGE U.S standard in Shanghai is more expensive than in the US”. Coz if you live like the rich people in the US, Shanghai is cheap in every way.

    Let me explain, of course living US way in Shanghai is more expensive, because by average US standard, it means getting above average in Shanghai. Decent house in US = Best house in Shanghai. Decent location in the US = Best Location in Shanghai, thats what I noticed and thats what my expat friends tell me. They all live in the best areas of Shanghai, one lives in Huai Hai Road Middle, fully furnished (very nice furnitures) and pays only $1100 a month. Whereas, I pay about $850 a month unfurnished in an average area in an average sized city in the US. You get the drift.

    So if you compare average US standard with best of Shanghai, then yes it is more expensive in Shanghai. But again not even by that much and only in renting apartments. I have been to Shanghai, even the price of expensive restaurants are in Shanghai is equal to that of standards ones here – such as Olive Garden, Friday’s etc.

    I stopped believing in this Cost Index when last year, they put Seoul as a more expensive city to live in than Paris, Zurich, Milan

  4. Living in Shanghai is expensive if you compare how much you earn. For example, if you earn 5000 yuans i think it is still not enough in shanghai. It the living cost cannot match the salary it has grown out of proportion. So either the salary going up or the property market going down. I prefer the property market going down. During my stay at shanghai, i read the property ads in the newspaper. I am thinking whether shanghainese earn a lot because the price of property is a bit high for me. In my country, a normal people buy property costing about 1.25 to 5 million yuans. And my friend buy an apartment for 600,000 yuans during 2000 now he is selling at 3 millions 2005. 500 percents increase. That crazy. I love shanghai but i smell trouble. Bye.

  5. shanghai might seem expensive for chinese people, but i think Wangjianshuo didn’t refer to a chinese point of view. I’m agree with him, if someone who live in Shanghai go to starbuck coffee, pizza hut and that sort of american store, he will find Shanghai quite expensive.

    But just go to an Ajisen (japanese style fast food) and you will pay 30 RMB for a meal of 2 course + 650ml of beer, at starbuck yo barely can offer a cup of coffee with that amount of money.

    I just refused a job at 1300euro in france to accept a job at 300euro+flat (it could goes up after 3 month) in shanghai because I think my living standard would be better in Shanghai.

  6. Life in Shanghai just like the dumpling house in Yu Yuan.

    Ground level – RMB8 per 16 pieces – no service

    First level – RMB16 per 16 pieces – self service

    Top level – RMB25 per 8 pieces – full service

    There is always a level to meet your lifestyle!

  7. Cost of living is very misleading. Here in the USA we do not eat out much due to the cost. The other thing to consider is that the major cities are actually comprised of many different cities. Most of these adjacent cities are quite cheaper. Los Angeles is a good example of this, look at a map of ALL the cities making up the greater LA area.

    I have to admit that there is no way that Shanghai or Beijing can compete in the cost arena with New York. As an american I could live very well in China but very poorly in New York.

  8. I am not sure how much is your airfare from pudong to Paris but figure shall be around 250 Euros. As a foreigner, Unless you have special skill you will not likely to get high paid as i believe the shanghainese are consider the most talent in whole of china including beijing. I am not joking as i seem their learning skills and they are fast. In the past. i used to heard that do not waste food as there are lot of starving chinese in china now i am thinking we need to secure our meals on the table as the chinese is very hungry for knowledges. Just go to any bookstores and you can seem them reading. Speedyop, by the way you know how to speak chinese? If not, learn it fast. It is still difficult to find people speaking english in shanghai but i think that will change soon. If you live the chinese way in shanghai, most likely you will not save much in term of euros. Yuan is still 10 is to 1 euro. Unless you do not intend to go back to your home country in the future. Also timing is very important when entering china.

  9. Hehe

    I think these kind of living cost index is nonsense to most of people in the world.

    Coz the economic environment is so different.

    But it might be useful to those interenational persons.

    Jian shuo always get a interenational think

    So I thing this blog is a better way for exapts to get the right info of shanghai.

  10. Thanks Victor. Although it is hard to predict what the a new life in a new city can bring to one person, these indexes may help a little bit for people to understand the RANG.

  11. “So my conclusion is, living the U.S. way in Shanghai is much more expensive than living the U.S. way in U.S., but to live in the Chinese way in Shanghai is much more cheaper than living the U.S. way in U.S.”

    The best summary!!

  12. thanks tony for your concern, actually i’m french born chinese and speak a little cantonese and mandarin (and will learn fast once in shnaghi i presume) . I will work for a french company which needs a french speaking guy, so it’s easier for them to found a french guy than a chinese national who know how to speak french. I’m agry with you that the chinese are fast learning and the competition was very taught for me to found a job in china. My first choice was Hong Kong, but i fast realise that they got plenty of guy much qualified than I there who can handle perfectly 3 or more languages (Cantonese, MAndarin, English).

    I don’t want to get high salary in China, just live there for a while. The airfare from paris to Shanghai is about 400euro, it’s more that what i can save in China, that’s why I will secure some money in euro in my French banking account before leaving China…

    Reading you it seems taht you think i’m “stealing” job from chinese national, is it true?

  13. Hi Speedyop,

    I am sorry. if you think i am thinking you are stealing job from chinese national. Gives you some of my background, i am a chinese born in Singapore. Studys Oversea. Will be getting my MBA next year. Knows English, Chinese, Hokkien, Malay,Tamil and few other dialects. But i am still afraid of the chinese. Why? They are not like Us who do not have to worry meals. They need to surive, i believe they are still millions of umemployed and children of farmers inland china waiting to get a job. For working as an interm in shanghai no problem. How about 100 millions chinese going oversea to work in 30 years time. The chinese government may not be able to provide enough jobs in china. We still have to face them in our country. However, why not you go vietnam,camobolia,laos or Burma. It is much more interesting than shanghai ( it likes 10 years old Mahhantten). Bye. I am not chinese national and i love singapore ,malaysia and indonesia.

  14. in my opinion, the living cost in shanghai is ok for common chinese people, but in terms of the top brand goods, it is too expensive for people who earn rmb but pay dollar price.

  15. Actually, I live in Russia which has a VERY high cost of living, according to indexes. However, I get paid just above the average Russian pay and live quite middle class here–and happy. So I’m sure that for my few months of living in Shanghai (starting in a few months) will be more interesting and quite a good experience.

    (I am American, btw.)

  16. I am always arguing with my friends from other countries on this issue. In some ways, living costs in Shanghai is cheap, because goods here is cheaper. But it will be very expensive when it comes to buying a house, drinking coffee in the downtown, especially in the area of attractions. So prices in different areas are not comparable, not to mention in different of countries.I can get a cup of coffee at the price of 1 RMB from vendor machine, and I can also spend 100 RMB to have a drink in the downtown.

  17. in China labor is surplus and most Chinese is struggling to survive in this high comptitation society, and some lucky guys who have got a job do not have a decent salary(for example,in hangzhou most college graduates only get 1200-1500 per month ,not mention the farmer works who work day and night and get the lower salary and some even cant get paid at year end and dont have the money to come back home).our country still have a long way to go to implove the live quality of the people….

  18. I find this blog really informative. I am currently working as a Science teacher in an international school in Dongguan, Guangdong, China. I am thinking of moving to Shanghai, because I have a job offer there. I think I will definitely accept it, because I have never been to Shanghai and I think it’s a nice city to live in like Hong Kong. I have already been accustomed to living an “Asian meets Western” lifestyle. I can survive on eating greasy Chinese veggies, dumplings, or noodles and drinking bitter tea for days, but I can also have a strong craving for Coca-Cola, American burgers, British fish and chips, Italian pizza and pasta, and Norwegian salmon steak. Aside from enjoying late nights watching pirated DVDs at the comfort of my own bedroom, I would also like to watch movies in a theater and attend cultural shows and the like on occasions. I sometimes drink, but I never smoke. I would like to know how much salary I should be receiving every month so I can live a comfortable and decent lifestyle in Shanghai. The company has quoted a gross monthly salary between RMB 15,000 and 20,000 (in US dollar equivalent) a month. Will this suffice considering that I have to remit at least US$200 back home every month, travel around China during holidays, and would want to save money for the future? I am still single. In addition, the job offer quoted all financial remuneration in US dollars. Should I have it quoted in China Yuan considering that I’m working in China and the fact that the China Yuan is appreciating against the US dollar? It has gone up from 8.27 to 8.01 to a US dollar over the last ten months or so. I think it’s going to appreciate further as the 2008 Beijing Olympics draws near.

    How much is the cost of living in Shanghai? I know that there is no standard answer to this kind of question as the standard of living is entirely based on many factors, particularly on one’s personal gauge and lifestyle. But what are the latest figures on the average salary of workers in Shanghai? Price of common consumer goods? I have seen some quotes in this blog but they’re outdated.

    Miscellaneous questions: What’s the most reliable internet service provider in Shanghai? How much is the monthly service fee? How much does cable TV cost if it’s not provided by the company? Gym membership?

  19. Need some guidance from you experts.

    Have an offer US$ 4000 per month + annual tickets for family + bonous.

    I have 2 kids aged 6 & 8 who will need British Standard education.

    Please let me know the cost for

    1) Education

    2) Rent ( 3 bedroom in Puxi area)

    3) Food

    4) Water Electricity

    5) Tax

    6) Any other expensed like medical etc

    Basiscally I need to know if the offer is worth and can I save something decent.

    Please reply me asap.

  20. Disclaimer again: Everyone has his own standard of “comfort” living, so what you read here may not be suitable for you.

    Education: That is expensive if you mean brithsh standard. 4000 USD for the whole family may not be able to get you there. I know American school charges for 1000 USD for school bus only for one term, not to mention other cost, like tuition.

    Rent: 1000 USD can get you good apartments

    Food/ Water/ Electricity are nothing compared to the first two items. By nothing, I mean local food. If you go to foreign restaurants, that is about 10 USD per person per meal – a little bit cheaper than US. Local people eat 20 RMB per person.

    Tax: 4000 USD means 1000 USD tax. Check whether it is before-tax or after.

    Others, like medical, you have to get commerical ensurance. Not big deal.

  21. Dear Jian,

    Many thanks for the valuable info.

    If I get USD 2500 and the compnay gives me the Education/Housing/medical would this be a good deal.

    How about cost of car?

    Company agree to give fuel & resonable amount for tax (toll)

    Also can you adv me how is the other available education if not british/American school….I mean is it good and can foreigner’s children fit in etc….

    Wait your reply.

  22. Education is the hard part. I don’t have too much insights, but just let you know that good education in Shanghai does not mean you can get it with money. For many good local schools, no matter how much money you want to pay, you cannot get your child into it. So international school and normal school are the only choices.

  23. Thanks for your reply. Can u tell me if local school offer the same standard as British/Intl School in terms of syllabus and standard of English. Is the tution conducted in English??

    Also pls adv if US$ 2500 will be a decent package if the education/housing/medical is taken care by the company.


  24. Can u pls adv me if the local schools match up to the british/intl schools in terms of subjects offered and also if all conducted in English.

    Are the teachers local Chinese or from outside?

    Also pls adv if US$ 2500 is a decent offer if the education/housing/medical is provided.


  25. No. Local school is local school. They follow the local standard – some are lower than U.S. standard, but many aspect requires much higher standard of education. it is just different. Teach from local, of cause. 2500 US is a decent amount of money for many people in Shanghai, but I don’t know about you.

  26. Hello,

    I got an offer from a company in Shanghai. The offer is 1500 USD after tax. I have to pay for everything house, foods, transpo. Please let me know how much we would be my net savings after spending the basic needs for house, transpo, foods. In other word, for a single person like me how much is the pay for a one-bedroom apartment?

    I need this to decide myself if transfering to China is a practical thing to do right now. Thank you very much for your help.

  27. $1500 is pretty good for a single person in Shanghai. A small apartment–pretty decent under $500, good location. The key is to have as much knowledge about the city as possible. Average Chinese single man making $500 after tax can live comfortably because he knows where to shop, etc.. Also, as long as you don’t have expensive hobbies like golf, tennis.

  28. USD1500 is a far cry from living a comfortable lifestyle. The housing cost at least USD500 if you prefer convenient location. Dont expect too much about furnishing or space. You probably don’t like local food which definitely will make you sick the first couple of weeks in Shanghai. If you go out dinning, western food costs about USD10 for one person. Western cereals cost USD4 to 5. Alternatively, the regular chinese dinner probably costs USD2 to 5 for one person and breakfast costs less than half a dollar. I bet most westerners can’t stand Chinese breakfast or greasy dinner. You also need to spend extra money somewhere else like drink club or outing.

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