• Shanghai is often seen as one of the more cosmopolitan cities in China, with the strongest influence from the West.

Shanghai is often seen as one of the more cosmopolitan cities in China, with the strongest influence from the West. (Photo : IC)

Shanghai has been declared the world's seventh most expensive city for expatriates and the most expensive one in China, according to a cost-of-living survey by ECA International, reported China Daily.

The survey's report done by the London-based consultancy points to the strengthening of the renminbi as the main cause for Shanghai's high spot on the ranking, which went up from number 10 last year.

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Beijing, Hong Kong and Guangzhou ranked eighth, ninth and 14th in the world, respectively, all surpassing Manhattan, ranked 15th.

The list was topped by four Swiss cities: Zurich, Geneva, Bern and Basel. Two African cities followed: Luanda, Angola (5th) and Kinshasa, Congo (6th).

"In spite of the minor depreciation in the renminbi against the dollar over the summer, it has strengthened against most other currencies leading to Shanghai becoming the most expensive Asian city for international assignees," said ECA's Asian director Lee Quane in a press release.

"This reflects the general trend seen in China, with Chinese locations gradually moving up our rankings over recent years. It is likely that major Chinese cities will remain expensive destinations for mobile executives for the foreseeable future," said Quane.

ECA International surveys cities based on the goods and services commonly purchased by expatriates, including groceries, household goods, clothing, restaurants and leisure services.

"Shanghai and Beijing are more expensive than Manhattan on average for most foods, although fresh fruit and vegetables in Manhattan are more expensive. International clothing brands are considerably more expensive in Beijing and Shanghai than in Manhattan, while eating out is significantly cheaper," said James Davis, head of Marketing and Communications for EAC International, in an email to China Daily.

Expatriates in Shanghai tend to agree that the city is affordable if one purchases local goods and services. However, they start paying the price once they start satisfying their cravings for anything international.

The cost of living in Shanghai seems to be matched by the purchasing power of its residents, with the citizens of the city having the highest average disposable income in the country.

Beijing, Guangzhou and Hong Kong all went up in the ranking at ninth, 10th and 14th from last year's respective 13th, 26th and 30th. Shenzhen also climbed from 45th to 16th.