A poor guy from St. Louis

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I happened to visit some of the high-end shopping malls in Shanghai yesterday. One is CITIC square (中信泰富广场), which host many world top brands such as Amanni, Bailey, Mont Blanc, etc. The price tag of some of the items amazed me quite a bit, e.g., I saw a ladies’ coat for RMB 9500, a sweat shirt for RMB 2500, same for a belt…Being a guy from St. Louis, which does not have all those specialty stores, I felt I am very ignorant and powerless. I feel pretty good about myself when I do shopping in St. Louis, as long as I don’t go to Plaza Frontenac for the real high end stuff such as Boss and Amanni, with my current salary. But in Shanghai CITIC, I felt much poorer. Interestingly enough, 10 years ago, when I was a engineer working for a state-owned factory in Shanghai, earning a 3 figure RMB salary, I had similar feeling when I visited the stores in Nanjing Rd.

But on the other hand, I believe money is not everything. We do want some money to spoil ourselves from time to time. A cup of Latte, a nice dinner, a concert, a new car…But do we really need those luxury items I mentioned above to make us happy? If happiness can be bought by money, I will work like crazy to make more $$$ so that I can buy happiness.

My other advice is to the guys not earning a six figure (USD) anual income: don’t take your significant other to the CITIC square. Just kidding.

I also checkd out the apartment prices in Shanghai. It went down a bit but it’s still very expensive considering the average wage in this city (I believe it’s about RMB 5000 to 10000 for white collar workers). It’s more expensive than St. Louis, a middle-size US city whose housing price is about the US national average. Although I understand Shanghai is a world class city these days and will have a status of New York or London in the future, I have a lot of sympathy for those young professionals who tried to buy an apartment here in Shanghai. Of course there are other options such as renting. But it seems like if a guy can not buy an apartment, very few girls will marry him. Not sure if it’s a culture thing or money thing.

Note: 1 USD = 8 RMB as of Jan 31, 2006. I hope the USD could hold its value because I am earning USD for now.

Note 2: I happened to see this special edition regarding luxury brands expanding in China from Yahoo.

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