The Bund Shanghai. Photo by Esther Young.
This just in, fellow Shanghai residents — you are miserable! Sure, we may have the highest living standard on the mainland and one of the most vibrant skylines in the world, but who really cares about modern amenities anyway. According to the National China Institute of City Competitiveness, Shanghai ranked dead last among all major metropolitan centers, and was further embarrassed by 90+ smaller cities around China in a report released today.
What does it mean to be happy? The report took into account the following factors in each target city: citizens’ approval, stability (of politics? infrastructure? who the hell knows), “loyalty”, satisfaction with day-to-day life, economic well-being, and how out-of-towners feel when they come to visit. They then transmogrified the results into a rating system based out of 100 points.
Hangzhou topped the list, earning 94.2 points followed by Chengdu (94.1), Qingdao (93.8) and Changchun (93.7). Shanghai chocked up a meager 65.9 points. For those curious, Shanghai’s northern rival Beijing snuck in at 95th place with 67.5 points.
We wouldn’t be the Shanghaiist if we didn’t stick up for our favorite city, and as a former resident of Hangzhou, I have the unique position of having experienced both cities. So let’s consider what life is like in Hangzhou vs Shanghai.
For one, it seems a bit strange that Shanghai is hated on for its high prices:
A Shanghai resident surnamed Weng said: “Living in Shanghai is really not easy. How can we develop a sense of happiness amid such high prices?”
We reported earlier this year that Hangzhou enjoys the highest housing prices in all of China. In Hangzhou, you find rental rates are comparable between the two cities, but Hangzhou lacks the conveniences of a nearby metro station to whisk you off to work, making a car mandatory (unless you want to suffer on the busses along with hundreds of others).
Mandatory car means mandatory traffic. You think the traffic in Shanghai is bad? Are you put off when 100 cab drivers in Shanghai strike? How about 1,000 cabbies striking due to the increasingly insane traffic jams? And good luck finding a comfortable alternative to taxis, seeing as the Hangzhou Metro is still a year away from opening!
The Metro was delayed due in part to the political corruption of the former (recently executed) vice mayor, who shaved off millions of RMB in kickbacks to himself.
But okay, let’s give Hangzhou some credit here. They have the scenic West Lake, as well as the amazingly beautiful Lingyin Temple, and they are often known as Heaven on Earth. If you have a chance to go on vacation, it is well worth the 45 minute G-train ride to visit.
But that’s just it — you visit Hangzhou, you don’t live there. Those that do live there own huge homes, but do all of their business in Shanghai. It’s a retreat from their real home, and of course vacation is always more fun than work.
Shanghai is often polluted, crowded, expensive, and a thousand other negative adjectives, but that doesn’t stop it from being our home and our livelihood. We love Shanghai, and judging by the crowds posing in front of the Aurora building on the Bund waiting for the iconic I <3 SH to show up, the tourists do too.Joel lived in Hangzhou from 2009-2011 and has since relocated to Shanghai.