Shenzhen listed costliest on mainland, China

Update:13 Mar 2007

Shenzhen has overtaken metropolises such as Beijing and Shanghai to have the highest cost of living on the mainland, the latest bi-annual Worldwide Cost of Living survey conducted by the U.K. periodical Economist revealed Thursday.

Ranking No. 51 on the list, Shenzhen¡äs cost of living is only 16 percent below that of New York.

Beijing follows Shenzhen but has slid five places to No. 63. The living costs in Shanghai and Guangzhou are close, and the two cities rank No. 75 and 74 respectively.

Hong Kong stays at No. 16 with a cost of living index at 107, above New York¡äs baseline of 100.

Another two mainland cities, Suzhou and Qingdao, ranking No. 85 and 98 respectively, were included in the list for the first time.

At the top of the list, Oslo in Norway is the world¡äs most expensive city while London has overtaken Tokyo for daily living expenses.

The survey compares the cost of a basket of 160 commodities and services in 132 cities around the world. Everything from tobacco to toothpaste is considered.

Li Guohua, an economist at the Shenzhen University¡äs Business School, said the survey was only one point of reference for the public.

"Besides the cost of living, quality of life such as average incomes, social welfare and environment is also a concern for the public. But you can¡ät list everything," he said.

He also questioned the survey, which only compares housing rents rather than property cost. Logically, these two are on a direct ratio. "The sky-rocketing housing prices make apartments unaffordable for the public," Li said.

European countries have the overwhelming majority of the cities with high costs. Tokyo, replaced by Oslo as the world¡äs most expensive last time, has now been overtaken by Paris, Copenhagen and London, falling to fifth place.

Jon Copestake, the survey¡äs editor, said the strength of European currencies played a large part, but prices in Europe were also rising whereas those in Japan have been almost static.

"There are two major reasons why a city¡äs cost of living index will change over time: exchange-rate and price fluctuations. Since a certain currency is needed in making a comparative calculation, all prices labeled with different currencies are converted into U.S. dollars," he said.

SOURCE: Shenzhen Daily 2007-03-11

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