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Shanghai is still number one Chinese city for expats

By Morag Hobbs (People's Daily Online)    16:24, May 04, 2018

Night view of the Beijing Olympic Park (File photo by Xinhua)

The results from the Amazing China Poll 2017 were revealed by China Daily last week, showing that Shanghai is the number one city for expats to live and work in China for the sixth year in a row. The survey, which has been running for eight years, is based solely on the opinions of foreign experts.

Shanghai has been on the top of the list since 2012, which isn’t surprising as almost a quarter (23.7 percent) of all expats in China live there. Beijing last held the top spot in 2011. This year, the capital city takes 2nd place, followed by Hefei, Qingdao, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Chengdu, Nanjing and Guangzhou to make up the top 10.

But what’s the difference between Shanghai and Beijing? What do expats like best about both cities?

When I asked what makes Shanghai the best city to live in, expats mentioned that it’s an easy city to live in, the city feels safe and transportation links are good. Many also mention that they find the city economically strong and that they can find more suitable jobs in Shanghai when compared with other Chinese cities. It’s true that the income bracket in Shanghai is far higher than the average across the country. According to Business Insider, Shanghai was crowned as the 4th most lucrative city in the world for expats in a survey carried out by HSBC this year, with the average expat salary at a staggering $202,211. Beijing, unfortunately, didn’t even make it onto the list.

However, when asked the same question, expats in Beijing said they preferred the capital city because it wasn’t as westernized as Shanghai. It still has historical culture and it had a more relaxed atmosphere. “The chill vibe in Beijing is definitely something I don’t see in Shanghai.” said one Facebook user, adding “plus, we have the Great Wall.”

Furthermore, the living cost in Beijing is relatively cheap when compared with Shanghai. According to an article published by thebeijinger.com, Beijing is cheaper than some other Chinese cities such as Hong Kong, Shanghai, Shenzhen and even Dalian. However, when looking at the cost of living, the article points out that there’s only a 5-16 percent difference between Shanghai and Beijing, so if you’re looking to make and save big money – Shanghai is still the better option.

Night view of Shanghai

The survey, which is carried out from November-February each year, didn’t have too many surprises apart from Chengdu making it onto the list for the first time. The results came from 4,066 votes from foreign experts in China as well as over 25,000 votes from internet users.

Beijing is attempting to make the city more attractive to foreign experts, implementing a new policy this March to attract “high-end, top talent.” The policy consists of 20 new measures to help make the hiring process easier for high-end professionals, both foreign experts and overseas Chinese, especially focused on employing talent in the city’s high-tech sector. Will this be enough to see it rivaling Shanghai this time next year? We’ll have to wait and see.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Bianji, Wu Chengliang)

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