The great Xinjiang blog Far West China (via Shanghaiist) has put together an infographic comparing prices between Urumqi, the region's only major city, and Shanghai, China's largest. Here are cost of living differences measured in five different ways:
But the cost of a three-bedroom apartment in Shanghai is a whopping six times higher than that of a similar-sized place in Urumqi, at 15,000 yuan (around $2,450 at today's exchange rate). This, unsurprisingly, has had an unfortunate knock-on effect: China's wealthy, who cannot easily move money overseas or safely invest in the stock market, instead park their cash in real estate, buying second and third apartments in desirable cities like Shanghai and causing prices to rise. Meanwhile, less-affluent men often cannot afford an apartment in the city, giving them trouble finding a wife, thus causing the country's problem of gender imbalance to grow worse. This article from Atlantic contributor Christine Tan provides a more narrative description of the struggles even relatively well-to-do young adults have.
And Shanghai isn't even a great deal for foreign English teachers anymore: The average salary in the city—15,000 yuan a month—is the same as a month's rent in a three-bedroom apartment. Teachers in Urumqi, by contrast, make a lot less (6,000 yuan) but their money goes a lot further in the housing market. If only they could spend some of their savings at Starbucks.