By Cal Widdall
In the latest survey regarding the cost of living for expats, Shanghai has been ranked as the 42nd most expensive city in the world, tied with Los Angeles and Moscow. The number one spot went to Zurich, which has displaced Tokyo following the strengthening of the Swiss Franc.
Whilst Shanghai has climbed six places since June, Beijing has fallen three places to 59th (take that Beijing! Well… kind of). Hong Kong remains the most expensive Chinese city at 22nd, which is surprising considering it’s full of running dogs, bastards and thieves.
The biannual survey compares over 400 prices across 160 products and services in an attempt to give a true representation of the cost of an expat lifestyle. Food, drink, clothing and optional spending such as private schooling, domestic help and recreation are all covered, as are fluctuations in currency strength.
Though interesting, we tend to think that surveys such as these are generally quite misleading. Shanghai may be expensive if you want to live in the exact same way you did your home country, eating imported products and shopping solely at Western brand stores, but adapting to China (or wherever) in small ways can result in huge savings.
Added to that, certain items and services (local food, maids, tailor made clothing, massages and electronics to name a few) are much cheaper in Shanghai than most Western cities, but even if they are included, the real prices won’t be available to a researcher looking online.
New York may be rated as less expensive than Shanghai at 47th, but we’re pretty sure there’s no one dollar equivalent to the 7rmb lunch combo, or a 5RMB DVD available on down on the street corner.