China’s rising cost of living has been dominating the news lately, if not overseas, then definitely domestically. First-half figures just released show that food prices alone jumped more than 11 percent over the first six months last year. When I first came to Beijing, my shao bing jia ji dan was 1.5 kuai; it’s now 2 kuai, or 33 percent more expensive. I’ve watched as zha jiang mian at Hai Wan Ju rose from something under 15 kuai two years ago to 16 kuai last year to 19 kuai now. Sometimes I skip meals just to save money (and who am I kidding, also because I’m lazy).
So it really comes as little surprise that Beijing ranks No. 20 on the newly released 2011 Worldwide Cost of Living survey by Mercer. It actually fell four places from last year. At any rate, it still ranks above New York, the only U.S. city in the top 50, Paris and Rome. This makes me feel slightly snobby, and I wonder if this might be the reason why I like living in Beijing, despite how horrible it is. Because it’s expensive. Probably!