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Beijing tops costly cities for living on mainland
By Chen Qide (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-07-21 23:51

Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen have been listed Wednesday as the three cities with highest living cost in the Chinese mainland by the US Mercer Human Resource Consulting firm.

Beijing tops the chart at 101.06 points in a cost of living index, while ranking 132nd in quality of life.

The cost of living index in Shanghai was down from last year's 11th position to 16th this year. It is at 95.3 points and ranks 144 of cities surveyed. Its quality of life is listed in 107th place.

"The high indexes indicate that living in Shanghai is expensive and one can't enjoy high life quality," said Lu Qiang, general manager of Mercer Consulting (Shanghai) Ltd.

The survey takes New York as the base city in the survey, scoring it on an even 100 points.

The gap between the world's least and most expensive cities has narrowed only marginally this year, but less than 2 points compared to 4 points last year and 15 points in 2002.

The survey covers 144 cities and measures the comparative costs of more than 200 items in each location. They include housing, food, clothing and household goods as well as transportation and entertainment.

"The data is used to help multinational companies to determine compensation allowances for their expatriate workers," said Lu.

Tokyo remains the world's most expensive city in the world at 130.7 points, while London moves up five places in the rankings to take second position at 119 points, followed by Moscow at 117.4 points, according to the survey.

"The quality of life in Beijing and Shanghai is quite unsatisfactory with a view of their high living costs," he said.

The survey said Singapore is still a favourable city for people to live and work in. Its cost of living index ranks 46th and the quality of life index there puts it at 33rd.

High expenses for expatriates to live in Shanghai is mainly caused by high rent, food, clothing, bill costs and education for children.

A furnished apartment of 200 square metres at the best place in Shanghai for expatriates, for example, rents at US$9,400 a month, higher than US$7,500 in New York. Rent in Beijing reaches US$14,000.

In terms of education for expatriates, a kid should pay an average US$17,000 for his or her yearly tuition fee at kindergarten, US$18,000 at primary school and US$19,000 at a middle school,higher than average US$15,000 in Hong Kong and about US$17,000 in Tokyo.

Expatriates in Shanghai also pay more for their bills than in Hong Kong, Tokyo and New York.

"So expats in Shanghai can't support their lives without earning 30,000 to 50,000 yuan (US$3,632 to US$6,053) monthly," Lu said.

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