Coffee in Shanghai is 6th most expensive in survey of 77 global cities

UBS Investment Bank ranks global cities according to the cost of Big Macs, iPhones, haircuts and more

Photo: @nate_dumia via Unsplash


If there were a ranking for popular Time Out Shanghai topics, articles about Shanghai’s global rankings would probably rank higher than Shanghai’s rankings on UBS Investment Bank’s Prices and Earnings report. But that’s a good thing.

Just check out this top-shelf rankings content (it’s hot stuff), and then consider that the UBS report placed Shanghai 48th out of 77 cities for highest cost of living, measured by rent and approximate spending habits of a three-person European family. That placement is… perhaps about what one would expect for Shanghai. Still, the report goes into a bit of extra detail that’ll tickle your brain.
Image: courtesy UBS Investment Bank Prices and Earnings report
The report also looked at the average price of a medium Americano in the cities it surveyed and ranked Shanghai with the sixth most expensive cup of joe at 4.60USD (roughly 29.78 RMB at time of writing). Beijing ranked seventh most expensive at 4.42USD (28.59RMB), Doha first at 6.40USD (41.39RMB) per cup and Lagos at 77th with a cost of 0.62USD (4.01RMB) per cup.
Image: courtesy UBS Investment Bank Prices and Earnings report

Beyond coffee, McDonald’s Big Macs, iPhone X’s and haircuts are also insightful metrics for comparing the cost of living between cities. The Prices and Earnings report took the average costs of these goods and services and divided them by the net hourly income of 15 different professions, of every earning level, to find how many minutes or hours of work they require to buy.

In Shanghai, you can, on average, buy a Big Mac with 53.4 minutes of work, an iPhone X with 306.1 hours of work, a men’s haircut with 255 minutes of work or a women’s haircut with 340.4 minutes of work. Going by Big Macs and iPhones, Shanghai ranks pretty low (59th and 55th, respectively) in this metric. Shanghai haircuts, on the other hand, are pretty cheap in comparison, with working time for men’s haircuts ranking eighth and women’s ranking 25th.

Going by the ‘working time’ metric, it would appear that Shanghai’s average salaries are lower while the costs of these particular goods and services are higher when compared to most cities in the report. Still, Shanghai’s cost of living manages to be on the lower scale of the survey, probably thanks to cheaper goods and services that are not big macs and iPhones.

Among the 13 Asian cities included in the report, Shanghai has the sixth lowest cost of living, lower than Beijing, Hong Kong, Taipei, Seoul and Tokyo being the highest. So, uh, yeah, not bad but there’s room for improvement. Luxury and property probably won’t be getting any cheaper, so, ahem, how about a pay raise?

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