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Shanghai international schools ranked the world's most expensive...again

Turns out giving your six-year-old an international education here might cost more than you pay in rent

Photograph: Charles DeLoye via Unsplash
AP or IB? International or local? Deciding on the right school is already a difficult decision for families that are new to Shanghai or for ones with kids just reaching school age. Actually figuring out how you're going to pay for all of it is just another piece of puzzle. And if a new survey from the International Schools Database which ranks Shanghai international schools as the world's most expensive is any indication, the struggle is very real.

According to the survey, which looked at 40 cities around the globe, average monthly tuition for a six-year-old at a Shanghai international school comes out to a whopping 17,586RMB. We're followed closely by our northern counterpart Beijing at 16,145RMB. For context, average costs in Copenhagen are 2,391RMB per month. Ouch.

And it probably doesn't come as a surprise that things only get more pricey after kindergarten – as kids grow, the cost of educating them does too.


Image: courtesy International Schools Database

According to the South China Morning Post, tuition fees are rising the fastest in cities that attract a lot of expats. At the same time, employers are generally shying away from expensive international hires in favor of locals and can be slow to change existing packages as the cost of living increases, in some cases pricing out international families. Despite this, demand for international education here in Shanghai is actually increasing, catering to demands from affluent local families.

Before you throw in the towel and start packing for Denmark however, the International School Database also ranked the average cost of rent in each city surveyed around expat-friendly (read: expensive) areas, and found that Shanghai doesn't even break the top ten at 15,146RMB per month. While average monthly tuition in our southern sister Hong Kong is only 8,217RMB, rent is a staggering 32,688RMB.

Relation between International School prices and Rent prices

Image: courtesy International Schools Database

The average cost of tuition in Shanghai is 116 percent of the average cost of rent, which the study found to be fairly consistent with the rest of the world. Turns out tuition is expensive probably because Shanghai is just an expensive city in general – but you already knew that and complain about it regularly.

But hey, at least there are plenty of cheap weekend activities in Shanghai to start offsetting those education costs.

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