Life In Shanghai
Table of Contents

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I've been working in Shanghai for about two years. I'm gonna try to answer some of your questions the best I can.

1. Salary
- Local Fresh Graduate: 3000 RMB
- Local Fresh Graduate Computer Engineer: 5000 RMB
- Local Fresh Graduate Consulting: 5000 - 6000 RMB
- Expat Fresh Graduate: 3000 RMB (I got this amt for my first job, competition was tough, or my negotiation skills were waaay off)
- Expat Fresh Graduate: 5000-10000 RMB (this is the norm range for an expat who just graduated from the states with little or no experience)
- Not sure about IB Analyst, but I would think it should be close to what consulting gets. I'd say 10,000 RMB for fresh graduate expat.

2. Studio/Apt
Cost for apts have a wide range, depending on how you want to live. From local local apts with communal showers and bathrooms, to living it large in nice complexes with gyms, tennis courts, and swimming pools. It's up to how you want to live. Keep in mind these prices are all for singles or studio. Jingan is a great area, with many expat focused housing.
- Local Standard: 400-800 RMB (dingy room, communal shower, etc…)
- Acceptable standard: 1500-2000 RMB (cleaner, own bathroom, not bad downtown location)
- US College/University Off Campus Apt Standard: 2500-3000 RMB (clean, comfortable, maybe gym, good location, pretty much US standard)
- Live further (1 hour from Downtown): 1200-1800 RMB, 2 bedroom, great conditions, US standard.
*I suggest living closer to downtown, getting on a subway filled with hundreds of people each morning and evening is not something you want to deal with after a long day at work. Downtown is much more convinient. It's a personal choice though. I wouldn't really worry about trying to save much money if this is your first job. A couple thousand of RMB extra in your bank or pocket per month is not going to help you get rich. Your riches will come later in life and career.

3. Living Standard
Again, this all depends on how to want to live. You could very well spend $100 USD a month if you want. But you'll be eating 5 RMB dumplings, noodles, every meal. Realistically speaking, you will probably spend 1000 RMB for food, 1000 RMB on clothes, and 1000 RMB for misc stuff such as DVDs, going to bars, movies, etc… I think its pretty safe to say that 3000 RMB per month is about right, again, depending on your spending habits.

Monthly Basis
3000 RMB = To get by
5000 RMB = Live comfortably, not much spending power outside of bills
10,000 RMB = Live well + spend comfortably
10,000 and up = Live well + spend comfortably + and then some

4. Purchasing Power
I read a report by McKinsey a while ago that analyzed the growing presence of the middle class in China. They compared a $40,000 USD annual salary to a 10,000 RMB monthly salary in China. I'm guessing that for $50,000 USD, you'd have to make roughly 12,000 RMB per month.

Some extra sites to get you started on your housing search:

try,, asiaexpat, and or even craigslist. They have apartment ads, marketplace, nightlife listings and all sorts of good info.; theres a shanghai version at

The American Chamber of Commerce launched a job site last yr too - at which should be picking up by now.

*once you get into the city, there will be dozens of local housing agents that you can look into as well.

Hope I was of help.
Message me if you have anymore questions.

Good luck.

So it's crucial to get a first good few experiences, even if poorly-/un-paid, that you can use to talk about (show you know your stuff cold—know things that you could offer your employer, inside China knowledge etc) when you go network, network, network.

I got this first experience through That's Beijing (; theres a shanghai version at Get this internship experience, excel and network, and then you're showing you're capable of leveraging your 'international experience and outlook' to add value. The networking is key; attend a lot of expat business brunches and such and exchange cards, following up with informational interviewing (same as you would do stateside.) It was relatively easy to show that I was super enthused about doing biz in China; figure out a way that you can do the same or differentiate yourself in some way.

If your school has a club in Shanghai, that helps - meet alums who now work in China. I attended conferences, biz dinners, even fun quiz nights at pubs, where I met alums who offered me a lot of assistance, especially because I spoke Chinese and could thus explain a lot of mysteries of China life to them.

Finally, I've heard that the Beijing job market is a lot easier than the SH one, where there's tons of competition. This may be the case. I know guys who got great finance jobs in China after working in second tier cities or ones with less expat life (Tianjin, Harbin etc), experience that can be extremely valuable because it shows you understand "the real China," not just party wonderlands like SH BJ and HK.

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