What is the cost of living in Shanghai?


While the cost of living in Shanghai is relatively high, the city provides a wide range of options to accommodate the needs of individuals with varying financial capacities.

According to official statistics, in 2023, the average spending per person in Shanghai was approximately 4,300 yuan ($600) per month, while the average disposable income in the city was about 7,000 yuan monthly.

Here is a breakdown of living costs in Shanghai. 



Accommodation Costs租房.jpg

According to the Beike Research Institute, the average monthly rent for a flat in Shanghai is 6,000 yuan (approximately $900). It's important to note that the cost of accommodation can vary based on factors such as location and size. Expats seeking residence in popular areas like Xintiandi and Jing'an should expect to pay a premium, whereas those opting for more residential areas like Hongkou or Yangpu may find more affordable options.

In comparison, the average rent in London is about £2,500 ($3,100) and is about $4,300 in New York.

Transportation Costs


Shanghai boasts a modern and efficient transport system that accommodates the needs of both expats and locals. The cost of transportation in Shanghai is reasonable, with various modes of transport available to suit different budgets and preferences. 

For expats looking to explore the city, Shanghai's extensive subway network is a popular and affordable option. Metro ticket fares start from 3 yuan ($0.4) for distances less than 6 kilometers, with an additional 1 yuan for each additional 10 kilometers. In comparison, a single-ride fare in New York starts from $2.9 and in London it's £6.3 ($8) at off-peak hours

Taxis are also readily available and relatively inexpensive, with fares starting from 14 yuan ($2.2) and calculated at a rate of 2.7 yuan per additional kilometer. Additionally, for the environmentally conscious, bike-sharing services have become increasingly popular.


Shopping Costs

Imported produce in foreign supermarkets tends to be more expensive, while purchasing groceries from local vendors is often around half the price of fresh produce from supermarkets. Some of the best bargains can be found in local markets.

Food Costs

Shanghai offers a wide array of dining options, ranging from Michelin-starred restaurants to humble food stalls, providing a diverse and economical culinary experience. The city's food scene caters to all budgets, offering a vast selection of restaurants and street food vendors. 

As for food prices, a Big Mac burger in Shanghai costs about 20 yuan ($3), compared to about $5 in New York and about £5 (or $6) in London, while a 2-liter bottle of Coca-Cola is approximately 10 yuan ($1.4) in Shanghai, compared to about $3 in New York and £2.5 ($3) in London.


Sources: Beike Research Institute, Expat Guide: Work and Live in Shanghai, expatistan.com