When it comes to living the good life, it looks like Beijing still has a long way to go.
A new survey by Deutsche Bank Research, the eighth that the bank has undertaken, has ranked the Chinese capital in 55th place in terms of quality of life on a list of 56 cities from around the world. The only city deemed worse than Beijing in terms of living standards was the Nigerian capital of Lagos. Meanwhile, Manila, Philippines; Dhaka, Bangladesh; Jakarta Indonesia; and Mumbai, India were major cities to slightly outperform Beijing. Zurich, Switzerland topped the list.
Deciding factors used to determine the rankings were purchasing power, safety, healthcare, cost of living, property price to income ratio, commute time, pollution, and climate. Surprisingly enough (at least for those of us who gripe about Beijing’s gridlocked streets and increasing priciness) our city scored well on the traffic (38th on the list), and purchasing power (39th). As an indication of how much more you’d need to cough up if to live in Zurich, Beijing’s cost of living placed 18th whereas the Swiss capital placed dead last. Beijing’s safety (37th) and healthcare (43rd) numbers leave something to be desired.
It should come as no surprise to Beijingers that our city’s climate and notorious pollution levels dragged down our ranking. That is all the more discouraging when we consider the recent promising news about Beijing no longer being among the world’s top 100 polluted cities.
More alarming still, but unlikely a huge shock to anyone who has moved house recently: Beijing ranks last on the property price to income ratio, behind even famously pricey Hong Kong (which came 55th) and Shanghai (third worst at 54).
To add insult to injury, our Pearl City rival placed ahead of us on the overall ranking, in 48th place. Capital dwellers can only hope that our recent gains against pollution continue and that officials address housing and property prices so that Beijing’s standing improves on such lists going forward.
Yet, perhaps we shouldn’t take the report to heart just yet. On page four of the introduction, the report authors state that “most of our price data is collected from Expatistan,” and “there may be issues with data quality and consistency over time.” Expatistan is an online price-comparison tool, which uses crowd-sourced, unverified data submitted by users, and averaged out over time. While this tool is certainly useful for working out how many packets of salmiakki you can afford during a holiday in Helsinki on your Beijing wages, it may not be quite robust enough to prove the report’s claims.