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Living Cost in Shanghai 2017 Edition
Cost of Living in Shanghai 2017 Edition

There are vast differences in costs of living in Shanghai depending on your choice of lifestyle. Live like a westerner or expatriate, you will find Shanghai no cheaper than cities in Europe or America. As a language student, you can get by with 400USD~500USD a month EXCLUDING accommodation if you spend moderately, meaning live the local way. There are plenty of ways to live cheaply, expensively and somewhere in between.

The average monthly salary (pre tax) of Shanghai local people is 6378rmb. (The average starting salary of college graduates is 4990rmb). Below is the government statistics of Shanghai local people salary (pre tax, monthly) in 2016.

Salary                    Percentage      How locals think
2000-3000rmb          15.20%           very low
3000-4500rmb          15.00%           quite low
4500-6000rmb          18.10%           low
6000-8000rmb          15.50%           average
8000-10000rmb        10.10%           better than average
10000-15000rmb       11.90%           all right
15000-20000rmb       5.00%             good
20000-30000rmb       5.70%             quite good

Price Index
For a clearer guide on how much money you need to bring to learn Chinese or simly live in Shanghai, we made a price index (recorded in 2017 when the exchange rate of USD to RMB is 1:6:86) and add a few comments below. Click accommodation page for housing price index.

Cell phone 100rmb for normal use or 300rmb for intensive usage (monthly)
Food (In supermarket)
Beef: 45rmb/kg
Pork: 35rmb/kg
Tomato: 13rmb/kg
Apple: 15rmb/kg
Orange: 10rmb/kg for local oranges, 24rmb/kg for imported(Sunkist)
Mineral Water(550ml): 2rmb
Coke(355ml): 2.5rmb
Beer(355ml): 3-5rmb
Canned Coffee: 5mb
Milk(950ml): 12rmb
Ice cream: 3rmb

Comment: There are local fruit, vegetable and meat markets in every area. As far as local supermarkets are concerned, NGS, Hua Lian and Lian Hua are the cheapest and they are everywhere. If you need more foreign items go to Carrefour in Gubei (Puxi) or Jinqiao (Pudong). The other Carrefours are more local. Imported items could be two times, three times or more expensive than local ones.

Eat at home:10rmb raw material for a meal
Street snack bar (noodles, dumplings, fried rice, etc): 10-20rmb
Fast food restaurant (McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, etc): 20-40rmb
In Shopping mall (set-meal lunch): 25-50rmb
Local Chinese restaurant (some are really good): 50-100rmb
Upperscale Chinese restaurant 200-500rmb
Western restaurant 50-300rmb
Upper class western restaurant 300-700rmb
Coffee shop (Starbucks, Costa, etc) 
coffee: 30rmb
Muffin: 7rmb
Cheese cake (slice): 20rmb
Sandwich: 15rmb

Comment: A meal in a local restaurant would cost about 60 to 120rmb for two. Expat restaurants with western food would average 100 to 200rmb. High class restaurants would costs a lot more. On the cheapest local side you can still get a boxed meal (in Chinese: He Fan) which consists of 2 meat dishes, 2 vegetable dishes and a box of rice for 10-15 rmb in some areas (also known as diners for taxi drivers).If you cooked yourself then 500-1000 RMB per person per month would be enough, depending if you use local or western foods. More dining information can be found on food and restaurants page.

Pub, Clubs
Cheap ones: 20-30rmb Normal: 50-100rmb
Cinema 30-70rmb  (Avatar in 3D IMAX was 120-150rmb)
Gym 2000-3000rmb/yr
DVD 10rmb
Daily Newspaper 1-2rmb
Magazine 10-30rmb
Hair Cut  Typically 30rmb, some large hairdressers charge 40-100rmb
Clothes Largely depend on brands, international brands like H&M, Zara, Gap, Nike, Adidas and luxuries are about the same as anywhere else, local brands are a bit cheaper
Souvenir T shirt 50rmb

Comment: Bars and restaurants targeting expatriates are expensive. Beers range from 35-55rmb and spirit mixers around 50-80rmb. If you want to keep these expenses down then either go to a more local venue or entertain at your apartment. More information can be found on shopping page, entrainment page and nightlife page.

Bus: most buses is one price for all stops: 2rmb. Some special buses are higher: 3-4rmb
Subway: 3rmb (within 3 stops)-6rmb, typical 4rmb
Taxi: 14rmb for the first 3 km with 2.4rmb extra for each additional km

Comment: Shanghai has a good, cheap subway system and it is worthwhile using. Buses are also good but more difficult to follow. However, if you have the bus number and stop then most people are helpful. Bicycles are the quickest way to get around. A bike will costs from 150 to 500 rmb. More transportation information can be found on transportation page.

Want to find out more about Shanghai? Check out our handy Shanghai Guide to discover all that Shanghai has to offer!
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