A SURVEY that compared the cost of living in Shanghai with other global metropolises has found that while overall expenses may be cheaper they take a higher percentage of average annual income.
The survey compared the cost of commodities and daily necessities in Shanghai, New York City, London, Tokyo, Toronto, Sydney and Manila.
According to the survey, a tall cup of Starbucks coffee is 17 yuan (US$2.72) in Shanghai, while the same cup costs 11 yuan in New York and 13 yuan in Toronto.
But the average income in Shanghai is 51,968 yuan (US$8,322) a year, while in New York it is US$61,405 (383,463 yuan) and in London it is 45,969 pounds (460,730 yuan).
"Shanghai may not be the most expensive city in the world, but the actual living costs in the city jump to the top spot when people's average income is taken into account," wrote Sharmistha Mohapatra, a Shanghai-based Indian expat, in an article for Oriental Outlook, a Chinese magazine under Xinhua news agency, which published the survey.
Mohapatra said she lived in a 150-square-meter river view apartment in Pudong's Lujiazui area when she came to Shanghai in 2000.
"Life was easy at that time. I could hire a skilled domestic helper who could speak simple English, often went to bars and restaurants and traveled to countries in Southeast Asia," Mohapatra wrote.
However, that kind of life is a thing of the past for many expats and their families here.
According to Mohapatra, rents have risen by 50 percent in the past few years. The price of food, transportation and other daily necessities also increased while most expats have the same housing allowance.
"Many of my friends moved into smaller apartments and dine out less now to save money," Mohapatra added.
While expats feel it is getting harder to live a good life in Shanghai, the same feeling among locals is even stronger.
"Earn less and spend more. What a tough life in Shanghai," a netizen posted on a microblog in a comment about the survey.
Emma Roinila, a Finnish intern with a travel company, told Shanghai Daily that food prices in Shanghai have almost doubled compared to three years ago. But prices are not as expensive as London.
"Clothes, cosmetics and nail polish remover are just as expensive in Finland," Roinila said.
Last week, a nationwide survey found a salary of more than 9,000 yuan per month is needed to live comfortably in first-tier Chinese cities such as Shanghai and Beijing.