And we all have the weak dollar to thank. Shanghai has slipped 14 spots to No. 30 in this year’s rankings of the world’s most costliest cities by London-based Mercer Human Resource Consulting. Beijing, ranked No. 11 last year, fell to 19. Hong Kong fell from No. 5 to 9. (Download a PDF of the Top 50 cities.)
Countries tied to the Euro went up in the rankings this year. “Meanwhile, Chinese cities have dropped significantly in the rankings as the Chinese currency is pegged to the US dollar and has been affected by its depreciation,” the report summary said.
Tokyo and Osaka are the world’s costliest cities. Followed by London, Moscow and Seoul. New York is the highest-ranked American city at No. 13. Here’s how Mercer describes its report: “[The] survey covers 144 cities across six continents and measures the comparative cost of over 200 items in each location, including housing, transport, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment. It is the world’s most comprehensive cost of living survey and is used to help multinational companies and governments determine compensation allowances for their expatriate employees.” Here’s a more detailed explanation.
The way Shanghaiist looks at these reports — as they pertain to Shanghai, at least — is that they measure the cost of living for expats in China who never want to be reminded of the fact that they live in China. Seems to us that foreign companies waste a lot of money in an effort to keep employees in their little cultural cocoons. (And if we were one of those employees, we wouldn’t be complaining.)
It’s possible to live a very comfortable life in Shanghai for what many folks living in lower-ranked cities would think is a bargain. To wit, Shanghaiist pays slightly more than $400 a month for a two-bedroom apartment in a great part of city center. We have a maid that comes five days a week and the $60 a month we pay her is double what some other people pay. Today, Shanghaiist will eat lunch for around 30 cents. And it will be delicious.