Cost of Shanghai June 2012

Jennifer over at My Sardinian life posted a grocery bill on her blog to show how much some basic items cost at the grocery store. Alyson over at Algarve Blog  did the same, so I thought I should follow suit here in Shanghai. When we first arrived things were cheaper here than at home, unless you wanted to buy Western. A box of pop tarts cost maybe    $1.99 at home, but here they are 42 RMB (renminbi) which is over $6.00! Prices have increased over the last 2 years and salaries have not been able to keep pace with the inflation. Things seem to be about the same cost as home or more sometimes. As my co-teacher says at least I am on a Western Salary and not local salary (which can be 1000 – 3000 RMB for the majority of low wage earners. That is $150-300 a month). Eating out is often cheaper than cooking and staying in. If you look for the 2 for 1 deals then it is definitely cheaper to eat out! We eat at a few local places too and they are less than 120 RMB for the two of us (or under $20 that included drinks and we are stuffed!).

This week I got home late and it was pouring rain. Instead of running the 10 minutes to the store I ordered in dinner and the trusty sherpa delivery guy brings it hot, fast and to your door. The 45 minute estimated wait was only 20 minutes. Element Fresh does free delivery and the food is good and fresh. It is mainly salads and healthy sandwiches and fresh juices. It is a little pricey, but the portions are big so I had enough salad for lunch the next day.

Lafa Bread Salad with Chicken

123 RMB

The cost was 123 RMB for the salad and a fresh mountain cranberry pear ginger juice. About $18.00. Bit much but saves cooking after a long day or going out in the rain. Divide that into 2 meals and not bad value.





Today I went to the grocery store and bought a few things. We shop at Carrefour, a French chain or City Shop which sells mainly western goods from the US and Germany. Carrefour caters to the locals and has a small international section, big meat department, and also sells household items and electronics. It is like a Grocery/Wal-Mart with everything. City Shop is small and is more expensive for most things… you pay big time for the imports.However, they have organic farms so it is better and cheaper to get some of their produce. This is what I got today.

2 bags full

This is all I could carry. I walk to the shops about 1o- 15 minute away. I have a granny trolley, but didn’t think it would be too heavy so I carried these bags. It looked like rain and was thundering so the trolley would have slowed me down.

For 181 RMB ($27) I got some green peppers (2 for 5 RMB about .75c), Organic salad mix (10 RMB or $1.50). Last time I bought this at home it was $4.50. 4 bananas (9 RMB $1.40), German Pretzel fresh-baked (4 RMB .60c), gourmet packet of instant coffee in caramel -YUM (22 RMB for 10 packets $3.30). I usually get Maxwell House Instant and that is between 45-56 RMB for 42 packets, but it is not as tasty. Regular coffee is really expensive and just not the same since you can’t get cream. Chicken, skinless leg slices, I thought they were thin breasts. Oh well it was good and much better than the cheaper stuff I usually get at Carrefour  (21 RMB just over $3). 2 large tomatoes (6 RMB – .90c), apple chips (2 bags, 12 RMB each bag $1.80). They are good as a snack or to put in my instant oatmeal which comes mostly plain. They just added some flavours of oatmeal -some purple chestnut or corn on the cob! I am NOT kidding!, Granola bars (35 RMB $5.25) the most expensive thing usually. I can get a cheaper brand at Carrefour, but didn’t want to walk all the way there in case it rained.  Baked Cheesies these are so yummy and a treat once in a while. Today when you buy one you get one free… I love these little surprises! (45RMB each, but today for 2 $6.75).

What would all this cost at home? Probably a lot more. I know I rarely came away from the grocery store less than $50 at home. It is easy to spend a lot here, but if you are careful it isn’t too bad. So what did you buy today?

Stay tuned for more next weekend… my adventure to the art gallery!


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22 thoughts on “Cost of Shanghai June 2012

  1. Freda Goulet

    I bought a locally grown tomato at a farmer’s stand in Dunnville on Thursday…$1.50…and yes, that was for one! I bought 1 quart of locally grown strawberries at the same stand…$5.00. I couldn’t believe the price. Guess our mild winter, then the freezes in May, are taking its toll…or is it price gouging? That’s it for me for fresh strawberries…I got a quart of California strawberries at Metro yesterday for $1.50…go figure!
    You are right , Diana, I never get out of the grocery store here for less than $50. I don’t know how a family with 2 or 3 children can survive with the price of groceries and gasoline and everything !!

  2. Wow, it’s very expensive to eat out there!! A little salad and a piece of chicken with a drink is $18.00? I can make chicken salad for a week on that! yikes! We don’t eat out here, maybe once a month … maybe. It’s just too expensive!

    • Yes it can be expensive sometimes… you pay to have western. I am not keen on some of the local food or worry about how clean it is, so we eat out a lot. It is also cheaper than buying western things to cook. School lunches are cheap, but not always great and very oily… so I tend to eat more of what I know or know what is in it 😉

  3. I love these posts! Very interesting! What would the cost of things be like then for the average Chinese person? Is your rent high?

    • Luckily the school pays my rent, but yes rents are getting high. 4000-6000 RMB ($650-900) used to get you a decent place, now a few 1000 RMB more. Many expats live in expensive 20 000- 40000! But the company pays. Food is expensive and the locals eat at the street vendors which is cheap and not so healthy… we saw where some locals live and it is sad… very drafty, no running water. Many locals are also rich as Shanghai expanded into farm land and some people became millionaires over night. I have never seen so many BMWs, porches and mercedes!

      • Fascinating! I agree that the contrast between rich and poor in China is unbelievable. Especially in Shanghai.

        • Yes just last week we were in an area of Shanghai and you would think we were in a third world country!

          • I can believe it. When I was there our guide told us about the migrant workers that come in to Shanghai just to work, leaving their children at home in rural villages with grandparents who are too old to raise them. They live in small apartments not always making it home often. Sounds like a very difficult life. Do you speak Chinese? If not, can you get by? I found the Chinese language very difficult. But it didn’t stop locals from helping us when we were lost even if they couldn’t speak a lick of English. I loved that about it there. The only problem was I didn’t like the food. I love food from everywhere but for some reason Chinese food did not agree with me.

            • I speak little Chinese “taxi” language they call it. I try my best and they usually look at you like WHAT? with all the tones it is hard. I am not good with languages, so I find it hard. I recognize things now and it no longer sounds like strings of sounds, but words… so maybe I will find it easier to pick up now.
              We stayed Chinese New Year this year and the city was quiet as so many return home and that is there one chance to get home. If you can ever watch the Last Train Home you can see more about it. PBS used to air the documentary. We met a lovely waiter and he misses his family so much and was SO excited to go home for the holiday… it is a hard life. The food -well that depends. Some I like and others no… fried lettuce is just weird. I did try the celery and actualy it is good and I don’t usualy like celery.

  4. That is good to know. Everywhere else in the world, the prices has gone up with the salary hardly increasing. Prices has gone up in the U.S. and when I went home last March to the Philippines, same scenario. It’s just hard to see people having a hard time financially. Great post. Thanks.

  5. It’s sad to hear about the poor in Shanghai, and the gap between the poor and rich is enormous. I heard that thousands of people are pouring into Shanghai seeking for opportunity living like how you described…

    • Yes it is sad. I have yet to post on a poor area I visited. I want to show it, but I feel it is exploiting those and I violated them and their way of life by taking photos. Not sure how to approach it.

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  8. Woman

    HEY! I did this too!!! And holy crap on pogo sticks! I’d be broke if I lived in Shanghai! Feta cheese!!! Yum!

    I live up here in Inner Mongolia, and looking at the cost of your items and comparing them to what our prices are here at the stores, you guys pay more than us for lots of things! Which is strange as our prices have fuel taxes incorporated into the prices to get from the coast to here. Wow! Neat to see how another Canuck is living in The Big Silly!

    • That is an AWESOME way of putting it… the Big Silly. I just may have to borrow that 😉
      Well if we buy local prices are not bad… but anything Western is insanely over priced. Shanghai is expensive (in my opinion) because we have such a large expat community in this area (PuDong) and any westerner must be rich 😉 There is also a lot of rich local Chinese. Our streets are filled with expensive flash cars so somebody has money! (not me btw ;))
      SO what are you doing in Inner Mongolia?

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