The bright lights and frenetic pace of Hong Kong and Shanghai might make you think the two cities are similar places to make your home. In many cases they are – both are major business hubs, both enjoy the frenzy of being among of the biggest cities in Asia, and both share an eclectic mix of inhabitants.
But that’s about where the similarities end. For one thing, although Hong Kong technically comes under the umbrella of China, it’s actually a Special Administrative Region of The Peoples’ Republic of China, meaning that it has its own laws, government and currency.
In Hong Kong you spend the Hong Kong Dollar, in Shanghai the Chinese Renmimbi – but that’s only the beginning. Many other things that are unique to each place, so let’s take a look at what you can expect from either location.
Shanghai is a much larger city when it comes to the amount of people that live there. The Chinese city is home to around 23 million, as opposed to the “mere” 7 million who live in Hong Kong. The average age of those who live here is somewhat younger too, at around 32 years – against the average age of 42 in Hong Kong.
The population in Shanghai is also growing at a much faster rate than Hong Kong – 22% against less than 1% in Hong Kong.
In general, it tends to be true that the larger a population, the better likelihood there is of finding employment. Looking at the population statistics, this rule would suggest that there’s less unemployed people in China.
But this is definitely not the case in this instance, because Shanghai’s jobless statistics are currently hovering around the 4.5% mark, versus 3.3% in Hong Kong. However, both cities are home to some of the largest corporations on the planet, and therefore there are job opportunities for pretty much every sector you can think of.
Hong Kong also has a higher GDP, at $US 351,119 billion, against Shanghai’s $US 297 billion.
Whilst Shanghai does get warm in the summer (up to 35 degrees Celsius), it can have some very cold winters. This is in complete contrast to Hong Kong, which enjoys a warm (and sometimes far too hot) temperature all year round.
In fact, Hong Kong can be uncomfortably humid during the months of July and August, but both cities have four distinct seasons – the main difference in climate (apart from the temperature) being the humidity difference between the two.
The Cost of Living
There are large variations in the cost of living between the two cities. The following figures are taken from crowd sourcing websites Expatistan and Numbeo, who take up-to-the-minute data from those who actually live in the cities. The figures are accurate as of February 2016.
When it comes to renting accommodation, the monthly cost in Shanghai is far less – anywhere between 55 and 62% less than the cost in Hong Kong. The websites Hong Kong Homes and Smart Shanghai are good places to get an idea of current prices of property to rent in both locations.
A necessary evil that we all need to pay – those pesky monthly bills… And once again, your electricity, heating, water, garbage, and local authority taxes cost less in Shanghai – by around 36 to 46%.
Grocery shopping is the same wherever you’re living in the world, but in Asia you might find yourself purchasing fresh items from the colourful local markets, rather than simply shopping at the local store.
Both cities boast some great food markets – including the Chun Yeung Street Market in Hong Kong and Fangbang Xi Lu in Shanghai. Wherever you shop, your bill at the checkout will be considerably less in Shanghai than in Hong Kong.
Staples such as chicken and eggs are anything between 34 – 40% cheaper. Other essentials like milk are more similar in cost – you’ll pay around 3% less in Shanghai. Fruit and vegetables are also cheaper here – expect to shell out anywhere between 10 – 45% less here than in Hong Kong.
We all love eating out in restaurants, and both cities offer some wonderful eateries that span cuisine from all around the globe. In Shanghai, an average meal out will set you back around 14 – 22% less than the equivalent in Hong Kong.
For those of you who are slave to the lip smacking addiction of fast food, you’ll be a winner in Hong Kong. A meal at McDonald’s costs around 18% less than it does in Shanghai.
For those who enjoy keeping fit, your monthly gym membership will cost around 37% less in Shanghai than in Hong Kong, but for movie buffs the tables are turned, and you’ll pay about 5% less to see an international release in Hong Kong.
Tech obsessed Hong Kong ensures that your mobile phone tariff will set you back less than in Shanghai, by around 17%, but going against the grain, home Internet costs in Shanghai are cheaper – around 33% less.
It’ll cost you far less in the Chinese city, by around 44%, and if you want to brave the streets of either city and drive, fuel in Hong Kong is double the price of that in Shanghai. The traffic in both places is, to put it mildly, busy – so you might prefer to take advantage of the many taxis. Those in Shanghai are around 20% cheaper than those in Hong Kong.