One might think that moving from New York City to a developing country would mean a lower cost of living.
"Overall, the cost of living here in Shanghai is similar to that of New York City," said Jeffrey Swartz, who moved to Shanghai two years ago.
Swartz's opinion is echoed by a cost-of-living survey published by Mercer Human Resource Consulting on Monday.
The survey ranks Shanghai as the 11th most expensive city in the world, which is down from last year when the city was ranked No 5. New York City was listed as the 10th most expensive of the 144 cities surveyed, and the most expensive city in North America.
The survey measures the comparative cost of more than 200 items in each location, including housing, food, clothing and household goods, together with transportation and entertainment. The data is used to assist multinational companies in determining compensation for their expatriate workers.
Swartz says he spends more on his favorite foods, apartment and golfing habit here than he would back home.
Compared with New York City, which was used as a base city in the survey, the cost of food and home services such as cleaning in Shanghai are less expensive, the survey suggests.
But the cost of transportation, which mainly covers car prices and taxi fees, and entertainment such as green fees, tennis club memberships, movie ticket prices and international newspapers and magazines, are higher in Shanghai than in New York City, the survey shows.
The prices of electronic appliances in Shanghai are also more expensive than in New York City, as expatriates prefer to buy imported brands.
While top-quality apartments are a little cheaper here than in the Big Apple, those looking to buy a villa in Shanghai will definitely have to spend more than they would for a similar home in North America.
"The tendency is that cost of living in Shanghai and other Chinese cities will be lower in the coming years as more international brands are produced locally at lower costs," said Yvonne Traber, a senior researcher with Mercer.
She said Shanghai dropped from fifth to 11th on the list due to deflation and the increased availability of international brands in the city.
While Shanghai is expensive, it's still cheaper than Beijing, which was listed as the fifth costliest city to live in, down one spot from last year. Higher housing prices in the capital are the main reason it is more expensive than Shanghai.
Hong Kong lost its title as the most expensive city in the world, falling to fourth place behind Tokyo, Moscow and Osaka. Half of the world's most expensive cities are in Asia.
Asuncion in Paraguay, which saw its currency depreciate against the US dollar last year, has replaced Johannesburg as the least expensive city in the survey.
London, Copenhagen and Milan remain the costliest cities in Europe, according to the survey.
(Shanghai Daily June 18, 2003)