Business / Economy

Shanghai is Asia's most expensive place for expatriates

By Heizi Jiang (China Daily) Updated: 2015-12-16 08:45

Shanghai is Asia's most expensive place for expatriates

A foreigner takes photos of the Lujiazui Financial District with the Oriental Pearl TV Tower, left, the topped-out Shanghai Tower under construction, tallest, the Shanghai World Financial Center, third tallest, Jinmao Tower, forth tallest, and other skyscrapers and high-rise buildings in Pudong, Shanghai on 12 August 2013. [Photo/IC]

Shanghai is Asia's most expensive city for expatriates and the world's seventh-most expensive for them, according to a recent cost-of-living survey that also cited China's strengthening currency, the renminbi, as the main cause.

Beijing, Hong Kong and Guangzhou ranked eighth, ninth and 14th, with all surpassing New York's Manhattan, which was 15th in the survey by ECA International, a London-based consultancy.

Beijing was the second-most expensive city in Asia.

New York's Manhattan was the only place in the United States among the top 20, with Shenzhen close behind at 16th.

Four Swiss cities were the most expensive-Zurich, Geneva, Bern and Basel.

"In spite of the minor depreciation in the renminbi against the dollar over the summer, it has strengthened against most other currencies, leading to Shanghai becoming the most expensive Asian city for international assignees," said ECA's Asia regional director, Lee Quane, in a news release.

"This reflects the general trend seen in China, with Chinese locations gradually moving up our rankings over recent years. It is likely that major Chinese cities will remain expensive destinations for mobile executives for the foreseeable future."

"Shanghai and Beijing are more expensive than Manhattan on average for most foods, although fresh fruit and vegetables in Manhattan are more expensive. International clothing brands are considerably more expensive in Beijing and Shanghai than in Manhattan, while eating out is significantly cheaper," James Davis, ECA's head of marketing and communications, wrote in an e-mail to China Daily.

ECA's surveys use a basket of day-to-day goods and services commonly purchased by expats, including groceries-dairy, meat and fish, fresh fruit and vegetables-as well as household goods, general and leisure services, clothing, restaurants, alcohol and tobacco.

"I found food and other living costs to be relatively cheap if I stuck with domestic products and ate at local restaurants, but any sort of craving for imported goods or international restaurants was usually pretty pricey," said Elizabeth Oppong of the US, who has worked in Shenzhen.

"I cut back on expensive habits like Starbucks and shopping at international stores," she said in an e-mail.

Travis Joern, an expat in Shanghai for the Canada China Business Council, said he tries to stick to local produce.

"For foreign food products, you pay the premium for import duties, but for local food products it's quite affordable," Joern said in an e-mail.

All Chinese cities moved up in the rankings from the previous year. Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong were in the top 10 from last year's 12th, 13th and 26th. Guangzhou went to 14th from 30th, and Shenzhen climbed to 16th from 45th.

Top10: Where foreigners pay the most

1. Zurich, Switzerland

2. Geneva, Switzerland

3. Bern, Switzerland

4. Basel, Switzerland

5. Luanda, Angola

6. Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo

7. Shanghai, China

8. Beijing, China

9. Hong Kong, China

10. Seoul, Republic of Korea


Hot Topics

Editor's Picks