Living Cost in Shanghai (2007 Edition)

This is the third report on living cost in Shanghai, following the previous two (I, II). The data is updated according my personal experience in Jan 2007. The data is pretty like the city in my eyes. Please be aware, different people may have different impression of the same good (depending on when to buy it and where to buy it). It is intended to give overall guideline to living cost in Shanghai.

Please note: 1 USD = 7.75 RMB as this article is written.


This is easiest one.


most buses is one price for all route: 2 RMB. Some specially and urban buses are higher (4 RMB) and some non-air-conditioned bus are 1 RMB, but pretty rare now.


Lowest price (one stop) is 3 RMB, and the longest stations are 6 RMB. Typically transportation via Metro is 4 RMB.


11 RMB for the first 3 km, and 2.1 RMB for each additional kilometer.


Ferry is not often used, and it costs 2 RMB (with air-condition), and some are cheaper than 1 RMB.



A can of Coco-Cola is 1.2 RMB in super market, but it is at least 5 RMB if you order the same thing in a restaurant.

Purified Water:

A bottle of purified water (500 ml) is around 1.5 RMB.


A bottle of beer (600ml) is typically 4 RMB (for example, Tsingtao Beer). Foreign beers are a little bit more expensive.


Grocery is much cheaper than going to restaurant (it is the same everywhere in the world).

I don’t want to give price of every fruit, or meat. Just give you some idea, 10 RMB raw material for a meal for two persons is good enough (at least for persons like me).

Meal at restaurants varies greatly. Here are some example:

Dumpling in small dumpling shop is 2.2 RMB per 50g (I used the shop of Xiaohui at the gate of Jiaotong University). 4.4 RMB is good enough for really nice dumpling or Xiaolongbao.

Shanghai-style Noodles at street shops is between 3 – 5 RMB (if you visit residential areas), or 10 – 12 RMB in tourism area (like most places visitors go, People’s Square, bund…). The food is the same, and the difference is just the rental price of the venue.

Above are the traditional food shops you find on small streets.

For modern food shops, like those in big shopping malls, a meal cost 20 – 30 RMB.

40 RMB per meal per person is called “average”, and there are some better places with 100 RMB per meal per person. (How much better is “better” varies from person to person).

The next level of restaurants are those with fantastic views, like the top of the Jin mao Tower, the Huangpu River scene restaurants. They typically have minimum fee of 300 RMB per person.

For western food, most decent restaurants (run by expats) charges lower price than San Francisco, or New York, but is still way to expensive. Don’t be surprised if you get a bill of 500 – 700 RMB per person in restaurants in Three on the Bund. (Last time, my friend from San Francisco told me her feeling: it is not cheap, but it definitely worthwhile for the view and environment).

House Rental

Flat sharing (three or more person share the same residential apartment) is typically 500 RMB per person per month. This is the cheapest place I can think of. There are lots of this apartments in my residential area.

For a standalone apartment near Metro, I believe 1000 RMB is the minimum price you need to pay. However, be prepared that it may be the terminal station of Metro #1, or #2, which is very far from city.

1000 – 2000 RMB is the most typical price for an one-living room, one bed room apartment. 2000 – 3000 RMB for two bed room apartment. Be prepared that these apartments are not in downtown, and maybe in an unfamiliar residential area that could not be found in any tourism guide.

If you want to live in downtown – I highly recommend you to do that to fully experience the beauty of Shanghai, be prepared to pay more.

For example, in Xujiahui area, 3000 RMB is the minimum price I can find. It is for an apartment with one bed room and one living room (or only two bed room), like 60 sq. meters. Also, be warned that apartments with this price must be a pretty old one, with smell, and dirt…

All the apartments described above come with kitchen, bathroom.

The next level are much better. It is like 3000 – 8000 RMB. These are not bigger, just nicer – in newly built residential area (built in the last 10 years), and with very nice garden view, and environment.

I also know some expats who spend like 5000 USD to 10000 USD for a historical villa in downtown every month. It is out of the scope of this article.

Water and Electricity

Water is very cheap, compared to the items listed above.

Water is like 100 RMB per 1000 kg. Just to give you some idea, I paid like 30 RMB for water for two persons who take shower almost everyday.

Electricity for a household is typically 200 RMB (for household like me).

All rent prices do not include water, and electricity.

Telephone and Internet

Telephone is 0.12 RMB per minute, and domestic long distance varies depending on your comm. plan. It is less than 1 RMB per minute.

Internet fee (for example, ADSL) is 100 RMB for the whole month. You can buy higher speed with more money.


Here are some items I can think of:

A middle-sized Mocha in Starbucks: 22 RMB

Ice cream: 2 RMB (Haggen-dazz is like 30 RMB)

A typical McDonald meal: 15 RMB (the cheaper package)

Salary: 1400 RMB per month is the city’s average. 3000 RMB is treated fair for university graduates. 10,000 RMB is regarded as high salary for employees.

Anything else that I missed?

You can come to the newly established BBS to discuss more about how to live in Shanghai.

Update September 18, 2007

This is a minor update of this Living Cost in Shanghai (2007 Edition). Since it is September, and especially after the increase of price of many goods (the Consumer Price Index increased by almost 6% in August), the price needs some updates. I have a reader who are so kind to list all things he wants to know, so let me update it according to these items:

Car Fuel:

    I am using 100 RMB per week (30 km on weekday and 10 km on weekend)

Car expenses: Insurance, taxes, ….

    (this is complicated.)

Groceries: We love to cook, we would cook almost everyday at home.

    If you cook at home, the cost should be pretty low compared to dining outside. I have a groceries cost list here. The price is recorded this March, and please add about 10% increase for current situation.

Entertainment (bars, ice cream, cinemas,…)

    Bar is expensive here. Budget 100 RMB for a bottle of beer for one person or 200 RMB for two. If you really want to drink a lot, there is no limitation. Typical movie ticket is 60 RMB. Ice cream is pretty cheap – I mean the normal Icecream, 2 – 4 RMB, but if you love HaggenDaze or Iceason, it is 30 – 40 RMB per person

Internet: Unlimited broadband high speed access

    This is easy: 1400 RMB per year

Water, Electricity, phone line with international calls

    300 RMB for water (for normal use), 300 RMB for electricity, 100 RMB for gas, and phone line monthly now is typically included in the broadband Internet access (the 1400 RMB package), and international call is 4 – 6 RMB per minutes, but you can always find Skype which is almost free to make phone call.

Cell phone plan: average plan

    Budget for 100 RMB for normal use, or 300 RMB for intensive usage

Transportation: Occasional buses, taxis, metros

    Bus is cheap – 2 RMB per ride. Metro is 4-5 RMB per ride, and taxi is more expensive. Common taxi ride is 20 RMB

Health: 2 private insurance plans, everything covered

    3000 RMB is typical insurance plans for one person.

Chinese lessons

    Budget 60-100 RMB per hour for one person. Typical class is like 1000 RMB per person

OK. I am happy I finished all the questions. However, please do remember that it is not easy to answer general questions like this. Everything really depends on how much you use it, how good is your standard of good. So I didn’t bother to check any exact price of anything (for exact price, check my other entries under Living Cost category.) My suggest just give you a range, or impression about how expensive it is. So you understand at least “is it expensive or cheap”, or “is it in 10s range, or 100s range, or 1000s RMB range. Above all, life in Shanghai is an adventure, and you may not be able to plan for everything. People in Shanghai don’t like planning.

86 thoughts on “Living Cost in Shanghai (2007 Edition)

  1. Hi Wangjianshuo,

    THANK YOU SO MUCH for taking time to update your blog about Living Cost in Shanghai. I REALLY, REALLY appreciate it! At least now, I have a rough idea of how much I’ll be spending in Shanghai. I’ll be moving there in August this year. (Yes, it’s still quite far but I’d like to be prepared this early).

    KEEP UP YOUR GOOD WORK! I enjoy reading your blog. I think this is the only blog about Shanghai that’s very informative and can be trusted.



  2. Jianshuo,

    Your estimates for transportation costs and food costs are pretty realistic. For those who can live on Chinese food, their food budget can be very cheap comparing to those in other major Asian cities. I now live in Taipei, and food costs no matter cooking yourself or eating out are at least 4-8 times more than those in Shanghai. However, for expats who must eat specialty foods, especially if they eat in nicer restaurants, be prepared to pay 100-200 Yuan without alcohol drinks or 300 Yuan up with drinks. It’s common to spend 600 + Yuan per person at a French restaurant

    JS, you didn’t mention much about costs for clothing and lodging. I almost never bought clothes when I lived in Shanghai partly because I didn’t like the styles and colors of clothes sold in local shops, and partly because most of the clothes are too small for me. I wouldn’t buy imported name brand clothes in Shanghai as they are too expensive and the selections are limited for me. I buy them when I go back to the States. What I did was having all my clothes tailor made in the Dongjiadu area. DJD has been torn down, but the old vendors have been relocated to two fabric markets near the old DJD. Men’s long sleeve-shirts can be tailor made for 80 Yuan per shirt, men’s slacks cost 40-50 Yuan for labor plus whatever you choose for the material. Labor costs for men’s suit is about 250 Yuan and a long coat is about 150 Yuan plus material. Cashmere long coats for guys is 800Yuan labor plus material, and about 100 Yuan less for women. Okay, you get the idea…..Having clothes tailor made in Shanghai is a very special treat. Exceptions: Some shops such as Silk King charge much much more for its fabric and labor cost, but it has a great selection of fabrics.

    Lodging costs varies depending on the districts, neighborhood, proximity to Metro lines and shopping facilities, age of the buildings and other amenities available in the complex. Rents have come down at least 20-30% with the abundant supplies. Expats housings are more costly, but are still very cheap relatively speaking.

  3. Hi Wangjianshuo,

    Great blog! keep posting.

    The cost for the taxi has a small mistake I think. It should be 11 RMB for the first 3 km (currently it says the first 10 km).

    Living in Shanghai myself, I agree with the prices you mention. Very surprised about the (low) price for Coke though, but that might be because I never drink it.

  4. OOOOPs! I didn’t finish reading your blog. I thought you didn’t talked about housing, but you did. I think your estimates are much lower than what I know of though. Maybe your prices apply more to the locals or for younger expats. For nicer condos in the downtown Puxi areas, be prepared to pay 5,000-6000 for a small two bedroom unit(Appx. 80 Sq. Meter) The 3-bedroom unit or 2 + study room costs 12,000 up for 130 + Sq. Meter.

  5. Good topic!

    I just follow your clue and try to compare the biggest commerial centre city and the cutural and politics city in China in my blog.

  6. It costed 0.06 RMB to ride the bus when I was lived in Shanghai. That was the late 1980s.

    Whatever happened to the 0.01, 0.02 and 0.05 RMB coins/bills? When did those go away?

    Why do people still use 2 decimal places when expressing prices? When I visited Shanghai with an American friend, he found it interesting that the prices are marked Y3.80 instead of Y3.8.

    We used to make origami out of the 0.01 bills…

  7. Are you sure Coke 355ml is 1.20 Yuan per can?

    The cheapest I can get is 1.70/1.80 Yuan per can at 6 packer from Lianhua.

  8. To Давид :

    Russian, right? just curious.

    the coins (0.01, 0.02, 0.05 RMB) are rarely used nowadays with one exception: some super markets will give the changes with 0.05 RMB, but not the other two.

    The problem is that we can hardly spend these coins anywhere else, so just treat it as a keepsake.

  9. my daily expenses are as follows:

    Traffic: 2 RMB by bus


    choice A: 1 RMB’s steam bread with meat stuff & 0.6 RMB’s soybean milk

    choice B: Lawson’s 3 RMB’s glutinous rice dumpling & 2 RMB’s sour milk


    Supper: cook at home, generally 5 RMB/per person

  10. Thanks for precise data. :-) For those who are going to negotiate their contracts before their stay in Shanghai, even if you are vegetarian happy with munching chinese fried cabbage from a street vendor, you rather take into account that drinks in bars and cafes around town tend to drain your wallet at speed of Maglev train: 40-80RMB per 0.5l glass of local beer (my favourite exceptions being 23,- during happy hour at Big Bamboo, 15,- at Old Dane’s Farmhouse (Dank und Skoll on Friday! ;-) and 25,- at Plan B, just to praise a few places) or 55,- per 0.15l (voila, what a measure! served in Citizen Cafe with magnifying glass so you can actually see the beverage at the bottom of the glass…) of VERY average red wine. The light at the end of tunnel is that – probably due to poor service of most (though not all) chinese waiters/tresses, who can be sometimes so indifferent and/or clumsy – no tips are given.

  11. From Zhangjiang High Tech Park (end of line 2) to Minhang Development Zone (end of line 5) by subway is 8RMB

  12. Nice summary.

    Below is just a few that I think also belongs the category of living cost:

    – What about medical expenses, like insurance, hospital visit, drug prices, and even “red packets”?

    – What about education fees, from elementary to higher education, or short lessons, private tutors, etc.?

    – What about service fees, like cleaning, electricity installation, etc.?

    – What about driving costs, like registration, oil, parking, tolls, fines, etc.?

    – What about news papers, parks, museums prices?

    Thanks in advance!

  13. So basically, Shanghai is vastly overpriced when compared to the other 600 other cities in China?

  14. Cost of living is always a question of how much you want to localise yourself. To live exactly the same lifestyle in Houston (central a/c, breakfast cereal, steaks, SUV) while in Shanghai will actually cost more than it would back in Houston. Some companies will pay for that to be possible, although for shorter and shorter periods of time these days.

    I think it is realistic to expect that living costs during the first six months in Shanghai are going to be high before you assimilate — from spending money in expensive tourist-friendly places, to expat places, and then moving on to semi-local places. Once you break out of your comfort zone, moving into a decentralised area beyond the first ringroad is cheap once you are prepared to accept: 1) being outside the delivery area of the English speaking food hotlines 2) finding your housing through a real estate agent using Chinese only 3) no foreigner-oriented supermarkets or restaurants 4) zero English spoken.

    My first six months I was staying in Xujiahui paying RMB 4000 a month and later relocated to a 1600/mo 1br place 1km north of the Inner ring, same floor area. Commuting time to People’s square from here compared to from Xujiahui is identical. Post-2001, foreigners can inhabit the cheap housing blocks once considered off-limits by law. Common housing blocks (普通公寓) look worse on the outside, but paying double or triple the rent for high quality exterior finish, fancier guards, and laundry-free windows in the 花园 (compound style) gets you an interior fit-out that is no different.

    An enormous savings comes about if you speak (and read) Chinese, opening up cheaper food joints, shopping places, and riding the bus lines, as viable options, saving thousands of yuan per month. If every meal is limited to places that offer English speaking staff or servers (or Japanese or Korean), the price skyrockets and WJS’s cost of living estimate would need to be quadrupled.

  15. Hi,

    thank you very much for the information, it’s very useful…

    I just have one more question: can you please tell me (us) what the typical price range is for a 1-2 bed room apartment is in the area of Jing’an-si, Nanjing-Xi-Lu? (along the metro line 2)

    Thank you very much!

  16. Around Jingan Temple / Nanjing Xi Lu, depending on your Chinese proficiency or having somebody to go with you, you should find starting from 4500 RMB/month for a 2 bedrooms appartement without too much difficulties.

  17. Dear Wang Jian Shuo,

    I’m not sure if you received my message that I left on an earlier posting, so I’m posting it again. I’ll be in Shanghai next week, and I was wondering if you had time to meet with me.

    Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.

    I’m a Korean-American student studying at Middlebury College in Vermont , USA . I am currently conducting a research project in China on blogging and self expression. I was wondering if you had time to meet with me for an interview. The interview should last no longer than 30 minutes and, if you choose, your identity will remain anonymous.

    Jean Pyun




  18. Thanks, JianShuo. Looks like the Metro prices have risen quite a bit since ’04; everything was 2 or 3 rmb unless you wanted to go to the end of the line, on either line 1 or 2.Gee, I may want to take you with me to find a standalone apt near the Metro or a quality 1000-2000 1 bedroom apt.! Would they try raising it just because of a foreign face…..? I was looking at apartments at the back gate of Jiao Da that went for 1500 then. That was really tempting, but I didn’t make it back that year. Hey, I never saw the dumpling restaurants ther, or I would have been there daily! The 2-4 Y shops in the old DJD neighbor hood were good. Thanks for all the info!

  19. Jian Shuo, in the event if you are writing on the food in Shanghai. Can you or the fellow readers suggest the good eateries in Shanghai.

    eg. Dumpling House at Yu Yuan, Xiao Yung Pan fried Dumpling, Ningpo Dumpling also at Yu Yuan and the poultry blood soup at the hotel restaurant between the two stadiums.

    I just love to eat at Shanghai!

  20. In addtion to Wang jian shuo’ s useful article :

    Living Cost in Shanghai (2007 Edition)

    If you have children, you have to pay the cost of kindergarten.

    “In China, the equivalent term to kindergarten, pronounced as you er yuan in Chinese. Children go there at the age of 4 (Before that, parents can put their children in the nursery for 2 years.) and leave it at 6. After that, they go to primary school.”-wikipedia

    Kindergartens in shanghai can be divided into public kindergartens and private kindergartens. To private kindergartens, as the role of government has been weakened, the early childhood education is more as a commercial operation. So the cost is sometime as much as 8000-9000RMB/m. It is also beyond the scope of this article.


  21. Jian Shuo, I have reviewed most of your site in the last few weeks, since I learned that I might be moving to Shanghai for one year. It has helped quite a bit in getting a feel for the area. I just got back from a week trip there, but it was a busy trip and I didn’t get a chance to look over too much of the area. We haven’t settled on an area in which to relocate, but since work will be in Pudong (near downtown and in the Free Trade Zone), I am looking at the BiYun area (or some areas closer to downtown) to find a 3 bedroom apartment. Do you have any thoughts about that area? I already noticed from websites that there are some really expensive villas and apartments. Also, do foreigners bring their pets when they come? My daughters have a small dog and 2 cats. That will probably limit our choices of apartments.

    Thanks for all of the info, Jeff

  22. Jeff, welcome to Shanghai. Biyun is a good choice if you work in the Free Trade Zone area. It seems to me an international district that foreigners will feel like home. I believe you can bring dog and cats to the area. At least from what I feel, house owners are not sensitive to pets or not.

  23. Stephen, let me open a forum here so people can start discussion. I completely have no idea about food (unfortunately), and I don’t care about food, so I don’t have too much to share.

    Stephen, would you please help to take the lead in this forum to faciliate discussion about food. My readers and I do need some help on this area.

  24. cube316: Давид is David written in Cyrillic alphabet, which is used in many eastern European countries, such as Russia, Bulgaria, and Ukraine.

  25. Thanks for doing this. I used your data to setup an online Shanghai cost of living spreadsheet calculator.

    Here is the link:

    It would be good fun to choose a controlled list of items and compare them across a number of different cities throughout China and other countries, but then we would be like the people Oscar Wilde warned us about – those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

  26. Jian Shuo, please do me a favourite of translating the following:

    Dong Jia Du Lu

    Wan Yu Jie

    Renmin Lu

    Yong Jia Lu

    Xiangyang Nan Lu

    Hefer Lu

    Jinan Lu

    Zhaozhou Lu

    I am told these streets have the best eateries in Shanghai.

  27. oh typos favour instead of favourite,

    Few more street add to the list

    Si Nan Lu

    Huai Hai Zhong Lu

    Tai Kang Lu

    Yong Jia Lu


  28. Hello Jianshuo,

    Hello Friends,

    I am Indra (Indonesian) and will be assigned in Changchun (Jilin Province) starting on April. Are there any of you have some information about the living expenses right there, as I know that it must be pretty lower than the one in Shanghai. Or probably the specific links for the information?

    Thanks a lot and really appreciate for the answer.



  29. A very resourceful site for those wishing to relocate to Shanghai.

    I have a few questions:

    1.What are the current tax rates.

    2. I am told that there are some international schools in Shanghai. But I find that the fees there is exhorbitant

    3.Are there any Indian Schools there with CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) syllabi

    4. What are the second language options. I have a son who is in his 6th grade. Would he be put to discomfort as he does not know chinese. What other options are available?

    5.What is a decent Expat Salary in a software company in shanghai in the managerial cadre?

  30. Current Taxi rate is 11 RMB for the first 3 km, and 2.1 RMB per additional km. Price will increase after 10 km.

    I don’t know any india school yet.

    He can either go to an international school, or just be part of the local school. My neigher sent their Dutch girl to local school. They (the girl and parents) are very happy now. It took her some time to catch up Chinese, but she did really well.

    I don’t know what means “decent” for you, or for anyone else. What I can tell is, 200K to 500K per year means a lot, considering 30K to 40K are good salary for newly graduates.

  31. I would like to know too what”s the average Expat salary must be who is willing to try street food, take the metro and willing to share an apartment near South of Shanghai where job is also located which I need to know too, how much are the rents there?.

    What are the average prices of clothes since i am used to a tropical country and no winter clothes are available, I might as well buy there.

    Regarding climate/weather what month is the rainy season and how long? Does it get flooded on streets? and what’s the hottest temperature during summer?

    Are there any daily english language newspaper?

    What about TV programs, are there english shows?. Is cable available?

    Are english movies shown in english language? How much does it cost for a ticket to watch a movie?

    Are there available english language DVD’s? Forgive me but I am a movie addict.

  32. Hey all,

    Im finding this Blog extremely useful. I’m looking into opening up a small business (retail) in Shanghai in the next couple of months.

    I would just really like to know how much meat costs in the supermarkets, like per Kilo .. a good Rump steak, how many RMB is that per kilo?

    I would really appreciate it if someone can answer my post, cause not only is it curiosity but it is related to the small business Im looking to open.

    Well, thanks to every one that posts!

  33. Looking for 2 kinds of apartment in Pudong area-DongChang/Lujiazui/Shiji Dadao nearby..

    -1 room, 1 living room, 1 kitchen set, 1 bathroom, TV cable+internet, etc facility included.

    Budget 2000RMB, near Subway

    – 2 room, above same conditions, budget4000 RMB..

    anyone know, please reply and email me

    urgent need at 20 March 07

    Thank you..

  34. Looking for 2 kinds of apartment in Pudong area-DongChang/Lujiazui/Shiji Dadao nearby..

    -1 room, 1 living room, 1 kitchen set, 1 bathroom, TV cable+internet, etc facility included.

    Budget 2000RMB, near Subway

    – 2 room, above same conditions, budget4000 RMB..

    anyone know, please reply and email me

    urgent need at 20 March 07

    Thank you..

  35. hi

    really blessed by your blog because there are so much information here. i’m considering a job offer at dong hua university, i think it is near to ikea. is there any reasonably good housing around that area? i’m bringing my wife, who will be stay home mum and <1yr old son, and we’re asian and more than happy to localise ourselves there. any idea about the price of a 1bedroom apartment/condo there? about 12-15 years old building maybe?

    if we’re going to cook for the whole part of the stay (accept weekends and festive occasions), do you think there’ll be significant increase in our gas bills? you mentioned 200rmb for electricity, do you have air conditioning on during the whole part of summer and heater for some part of winter?

    it’s a big decision for us because we’re a young family unit… i’m (only?/already?) 29. haha. what are your thoughts? do you have friends who worked as lecturer in shanghai? how much is the pay for a master graduate?

    sorry for all these questions. would really appreciate if you can help me on this. would be great to meet up with you if i accept the job offer.

    many thanks!



  36. hi. im from manila, philippines. your blog is informative indeed. just wanted to ask if $450 a month would be good enough for me to survive there and save as well? i just got a job offer and im having second thoughts about working there bec of the “cost of living”. i read an article on a survey conducted by Mercer Consulting Services that Shanghai is the 20th costliest city to live in (survey of 100 cities around the world) as of 2005

    keep posting


    p.s. i read the “discussion” among 3 commentors on grocery prices. quite a show, really.

  37. Are you trying to be funny? To survive on $450 and still think you could save??? Hey a maid earns more than that (no im not trying to be a mean). I’m like… why bother going overseas to be a real cheap labour…way much cheaper than local labourers?

    PS: The 3 commentors may be funny to you but no least funnier than you are to us

  38. Wouldnt hurt to ask, right?

    Im only 22 yrs old, that’s why i could afford to take risks at this point in time. I wanted to study Mandarin. Even though the offer was not as good as what im getting now, the opportunity to venture out in a foreign land thrilled me.

    For whatever it’s worth, im thankful that i bumped into this blog so at least ive gotten a more reliable info and not just rely on my friends’ testimonials .Unfortunately for me, i already turned down a promotion from the company im with bec i thought i would definitely be leaving for good. Unfortunately also for me , i got an unsolicited humiliation online (my apologies to Mr Wang in behalf of the unrestrained comments posted )

    i just wished that people could answer innocent questions in a more professional way.

    btw, i didnt find the 2 guy commentors funny (if that’s how you understood my monicker). im mortified how high-income earners living in industrialized countries could not exude respect towards each other just bec they appear anonymous online.

    XX, just send an email for your reactions.

  39. No, it wouldn’t hurt to ask indeed but that was quite a “show” too…. i didnt know there are so many people giving up better lives for a place like a 3rd world country’s city?? No no… Don’t get me wrong, i am not mocking at all foreigners who have came to shanghai.

    My advise is, dont sort of “crash” shanghai you know? You are only 22 and have plenty of time to look around for the best suitatble job. Whoever who is paying you $450 is gay. You deserve more than that (telling from ur english and the way you refuted me so diplomatically *wink).

    What you can do is to keep your eyes open for overseas posting/ work position to shanghai and then grab it. The locals pay you dirt cheap and foreign bosses in shanghai are more likely than not to be just as stingy (LOL… learned the local way of doing things, if you ask me). Anyway, why would they pay you any higher if they can get any local grad to do the same job?

    Try to aim for USD 1000 basic plus housing…. thats the very bear minimum you should look at.

    All the best to you


  40. Somehow, I feel this web site must be frequently visited by young people with no school age kids as I see seldom the discussion on education cost in Shanghai. If you are foreigner coming to Shanghai not under an expat package, you will find that you are most likely not able to afford the school education cost for your kids. They are major major part of Shanghai cost. I have a friend who is a chinese native but spent years overseas and returned back to China only to find that he has such a hard time finding a school with reasonable cost for his kid. Problem? His kids not yet able to adjust to local school due to language, system and other gaps and more important, almost all local school will not accept a student with foreign passport. The next option is international school and the cost is certainly not affortable (8-20kUS$) and then the middle groud chinese private school which still cost 10000-30000RMB per year with language, system, gap still the problem as they still only use chinese books for class. Please do not ignor this major expense for living in Shanghai.


  41. Dear Everyone,

    I am a student majored in law in Fudan University and I will soon graduate this year. And I really understand that there are many difficulties for foreigners in Shanghai because of the language factor.

    I have established a very small education consultant company last month in order to do many things in my way with many of my friends and one of items of my company is to provide some individual information and help to foreigners in Shanghai. All that is only at its establishing states so I can only say that if you have some problems about living in Shanghai or China you can email to me and I wish we can give you a good surprise.

    You can know more information from

    Best Regards,

    Lu Xiang

  42. Your site is very interesting.I think the current money is the yuan so I’m surprised when you use the RMB instead of Yuan.What ‘s the equivalence of 1RMB in Yuan.could you inform me if student with 1100 yuan per month can save money in shanghai and how much about compared of the standard living.Many thanks

  43. Very nice site indeed! Big help for me. Would just like to ask some questions:

    helpers/ayi/nanny/gongren how much is their minimum rate? if with english proficiency? stay-in.


  44. Hey !

    I want to know if there are any CBSE schools in Shanghai ? Which area in Shanghai are they located ? When does the term begin in such schools ?Any idea of the per year cost of education in such schools ?

  45. We are considering a move to Shanghai…and have been given a budget of 2,000 US dollars.I know we need a three bedroom apt..normally we can manage with 160/170 square meters..having a pool and a gym would also be something we are looking for.We would need to live in Pudong.Is this budget way too small? Please help…Thanks

  46. L. Oldham, as you can imagine, whether a budget is too small or enough is really the hardest question I receive. It all depends on expectation. I completely have no idea about how “good” is good in YOUR standard.

    So let me answer it this way. I only talk about myself.

    2,000 USD per month for house looks enough for me. Let me give you some reference number so you have some idea.

    1. After graduate, many people find apartment at 200 USD (which is just a single bed room apartment.

    2. 1000 USD and above are considered “good” house.

    3. 2000 USD can definitely rent well decorated apartment with 3 bedrooms. The price depends on the “residential area”, or the neighborhood of the area.

    4. There are also apartments with several thousand month rental for expats.

    So to be short, I think it is enough.

  47. Hi! I’m going to Fudan University in September. I was wondering if any one new about the “residencies” and the cost of living on campus.

    Also, does any one know of housing options near the university?

    If any one has insight I would greatly appreciate it! Thanks!!

  48. Hi everybody! I really enjoy reading your blog Jian Shuo, lots of useful stuff on it. I just arrived last week and I am going to start my chinese studies at 交通大学 in two weeks. I was lucky so far:

    First I sayed at Lanson Place in Xintiandi, which is like a hotel. It was my friend’s apartment and the rent would have been around $6000 per month. But I knew, that I had to find my own apartment, as soon as my friend needed his place back. Unfortunately I only had about two days to find a place. That’s when I found this website:


    It is updated every day and has lots of options on it to find your own or shared place. I am now living next to my university on the 20th floor in a 花园 .

    I only pay 2000RMB net and the place is really convenient. I share the apartment with a Chinese girl, which is very good to improve my skills. It really depends on what you want. My place isn’t the most luxurious, the cleanest nor the most quiet one, but hey, I just need it to sleep, to have a shower and to eat. Usually you’re always on the road, at university, sports, going out.

    I really enjoy Shanghai a lot, although I’ve only seen a little part of it yet.

    Check the website above if you are looking for a place to stay!

  49. Shanghai is a horrible city. people make a little of money, but they have to pay huge living expanses.

  50. firstone – I guess that depends on where you’re looking from… horrible compared to what or where? Shanghai is one of the best cities in the world. Everything is relative, and there are many other cities in the world where the cost of living vs income gap is much, much wider.

  51. Ya, I agree with AussiePB. I think the income gap in Singapore is not getting any better. The rich gets richer and also increases the burden on the poor, so the poor gets poorer. Sigh…..

  52. Ya, I agree with AussiePB. I think the income gap in Singapore is not getting any better. The rich gets richer and also increases the burden on the poor, so the poor gets poorer. Sigh…..

  53. that is the real world… a lot of people chasing to be rich and famous, greed, etc that drives the increase of cost of living. Well if you’re in this elite group will you complaint? :)

    that also show the development effect… it happen in all major cities in the world.

  54. Hello,

    Thank you for your very informative website!

    I will be moving to Shanghai within the next 3-6 months. I would like to know, what area of the city would you recommend for an ex-pat who speaks a little Mandarin and who will be working from home (ie. no daily commutting) but who loves to go out! So wants to be near the friday and saturday night nightlife.

    Also, is there such thing as Internet Cafés with wireless access in Shanghai? sometimes working between my 4 walls gets boring and I like to sit in cafés and daydream a little while I work.

    Thank you :-)

  55. Hi, I’ve heard that the living expenses in Shanghai have been increased again in Sept, 2007 (such as food?). Do you have any idea that how much a fresh college graduate can make per month in Shanghai and is it easy for them to find a job? Also what is the average salary a white-collar can make in 2007 Shanghai? I may move to Shanghai next year, and I need some info about it. Thank you for your time.

  56. @Jeff, the change of food in 2007 is huge, but considering that the food is not the big portion for higher salary people (I mean housing is much bigger part), the impact is not so significant. For local resident who earns 1000 RMB per months, that’s big change.

    Depending on the quality of the fresh graduate, they earn from 1000 RMB to 15,000 RMB per month. For white-collar, let’s say 3000 RMB/month is a typical number, although everyone should understand this number is by no means accurate.

  57. Are these prices still current? When I was there in September, it seems that most of the items here were more than this. Maybe I am just looking in the wrong places.

  58. Hi Jian Shuo Wang, I finaly got the offer from my work place, it is 15,000RMB per month 13 month guarantee pay +15% target of my annual base as the bonus. they can also subside and help with appartment 600USD a month.

    Just to compare, today I am getting 19,000RMB (base salary) not including bonuses and OT…

    I know the offer is low one but is this offer is good for a forigner in China? what kind of appartment i can rent in 600USD in pudong area?


  59. Is 17 000RMB reasonable for lecturing position in Shanghai? If so would it able to afford one a descent/comfortable standard of leaving (for a foreigner. Accomodation and bills is my own responsibilty…………How much are 1 bedroom flats/apartments in Shanghai please…….Help

  60. I would like to know that if I will be accompanying my husband who will be on work permit in China, what will be procedure to get a visa for me and what shall be the fees for the same

  61. Nice information you have here .-) everytime when i back in Suzhou from Shanghai i feel already in the Taxi that here in Suzhou is much cheaper and only 80km away. In Shanghai the Taxi Money you can see fly away.



  62. Last summer I took a day tour to Hangzhou and the taxi driver from Shanghai charged me RMB1,600 including road toll, can anybody tell me this is fair fare of taxi from 7AM to 9PM?

  63. Hey this is a great site for the understanding of Shang Hai. I will be going over to Shang Hai for 2 and a half months next year in March and i am desperately looking out for an apartment. The trouble is that i do not ave any contacts in ShangHai now and i searched thru the net for rentals but can’t find any that fits my budget. Is it possible if i ask for help here? Please?

  64. Jian Shuo,

    Thank you for all of your hard work on putting this information together. It has been very useful in my decision making process.

    I’m moving to Shanghai in a few months for 3-5 or more years. Would it be wise to rent or buy? Are foreigners permitted to purchase a home?

    I will be compensated as a local. Where can I find a set of tax laws written in English?

    Do you have any recommendtions for networking sites or websites that have up to date information on events/activities/social life in Shanghai?

    I haven’t been to Shanghai since Fall 2006 and 2005. I noticed a significant difference year over year. How much as Shanghai changed since 2006? Is Shanghainese no longer spoken?



  65. @M, welcome to Shanghai. I would definitely suggest you to do some observation in Shanghai by yourself before you decide to buy house. To give suggestions on whether to buy or sell is the riskiest thing – since no one can predict the future of the real estate market, including me. :-)

    For the changes, it is hard to describe with a short answer. The good news, I have about 1000 articles to describe it on this site. Enjoy your time. and run by my friends are pretty good. You should go there.

  66. Dear Wang,

    I found you are doing a excellent service for the people.I also need your advice.I will relocate china in June or July 2008.

    I have got a Job offer from a MNC located in Shanghai. The company is offering me base compensation 5000 RMB+ 1600 RMB for accomodation & Transportation & bonus as per company norms, apart of his i will be enitled for 45000 RMB annual local allowances.

    Please advice me for the following queries:

    1. What is the term of 13 month bonus salary?

    2. Tax deduction on this structure/

    3. Living cost accomodation for family (wife+one kid)

    4. Food & Transportation expances.

    5. Monhly expected saving.

    I will be thankful for your advice.

  67. @Ashok, for the 13 month term, it typically mean that you will get double pay in the last month – in 12th month.

    For the other questions, I think I have briefly talked about it, although I think I should update it and issue Living Cost survey for 2008.

  68. HI WANG,

    Thanks for the information, please let me know whether 10000 RMBis enough for a family (wife and small kid). Is there any scope for the saving….

    Actually i have to give my acceptancebefore 25th Jan and i am not sure whether the salary package would be sufficient for my family, and I want to get a clear picture of the expenses there.

    With regards,


  69. Hi Wang

    I will be joining a n MNC (Semiconductor company: SanDisk) this August 2008.

    My base salary is 5000RMB/month.

    Can you please tell me how much tax I have to pay/month

  70. @saroj, I think the first thing is to read the guide in this article: Foreigners Individual Income Tax in China. This is an introduction about foreigner tax calculation. Also, I believe this article helps if you want to understand the rate for different levels:

    According to the article, it will be 15% if you are earning less than 5000, or 20% more than 5000.

    3 | 2,000 < $ < 5,000 | 15% | 125

    4 | 5,000 < $ < 20,000 | 20% | 375

  71. Hi Wang,

    You gave a wrong answer on Foreigner Personal Income Tax in China. I also saw your article about it and it is totally wrong.

    I am also a foreigner in China and have been working with this issue for ten month with assistant from CPA China for tax submission.

    In short, the personal income tax for foreigner is starting from RMB 4,800 (at the time this comments is written and have been at least applied in ten months backward).

    For Saroj, if his Income per month is RMB5,000, then his tax will be RMB 200 multiply by tax rate, i.e.: 5%, for the first RMB500 after deducted by RMB 4,800. Unless Saroj purchase insurance, which might be more than RMB 200, then Saroj will not be liable for the tax.

    The complete table with its explanation should availabe at Tax Authorization.

    Hope this help and clear enough for Saroj.

    Good Luck!



  72. Can u pls tell me if 14720 RMB per month is a sufficient salary to live in Shanghai? How much do you think my approximate rent and other expenses would be on a month? I dont party… :) … just work and live.. Kindly share your thoughts…



  73. Hello, All

    My boyfriend and I are thinking about moving to Shanghai for 1-2 years. I have been working for a major electronic retail company for 7years, been a manager for 2 years. My boyfriend is a buyer for the same company. We do not have university degrees but we have a lot of work/management experience. What kind of jobs is there in Shanghai? Is teaching english an option?

    I was born in Shanghai but came to Canada when i was 10, my boyfriend was born in Canada.

    Any help will be greatly appricated!


  74. Hello. I am planning to travel around asia for a total of 3 wks. I will start at Shanghai, Thailand, and then Japan. About 1 week in each area. Just curious if anyone knows how much an average hotel cost per night will be in Thailand? I’m going w my boyfriend and were planning to stay at a resort..around 3-stars pr nice average hotels/private huts. Also i know hotels cost more in Japan but around how much per night are the average hotels in tokyo? Around how much do tours generally cost? Thinking about going to tiger temple and some fairly large, nice dinner cruise for 1 night that inlcudes a show, buffet and sailing around Bankok at night but I have found it hard to find this info online.

  75. can you tell me what are the different methods of savings from the income tax 2008-2009.

    is there any possibility of reducing income tax from our salary in terms of buying some insuarnce plans or depositing in mutual funds in china

  76. Hello. I am planning to move from Mumbai (India) to Shanghai and was wondering whether a 11000 RMB, post-tax package will be sufficient for a decent living. I intend to rent a small apartment in the main areas of the city. I will be staying alone and while I do not plan to live a luxurious expatriate life, I will require the basic comforts of city life. Will really appreciate if any one can give a break-up estimate for rent and basic utilities (energy, water, city transportation, phone and internet).

  77. @ maria:

    Funny that you are asking this. As in any other country, it depends on what you need and which price level the store you visit belongs to. The full package for a woman in a high-end store might cost several hundreds of RMBs, while a simple haircut for a man in a small barber shop can go for 5 RMB.

    I usually pay 8 RMB in China, though, because I am willing to spare an additional 3 RMB for a wash.

  78. Hey there! Do u have recent figures of cost of living in Shanghai? Say 2008 or 2009 figures? Thank you very much!

  79. Hello,

    Thank you for your report. I’m going to be moving to Shanghai this summer and the informailon you provided has been very helpful.

    You posted that the cost of health coverage for one person was 3000 rmb. What time period was that covering? one month? one year?

    Thank you. Keep up the good work.


  80. I am thinking to moving to Shanghai in the next few months. I am curious to hear how the cost of living has increased for the general costs of living.

  81. Hi, I will be moving to Shanghai but have to pay my childrens fees. Are there any International schools in Shanghai that are not charging so much?

    Thx Jeff

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