Shenzhen is one of the most expensive cities to live in China, but still relatively cheap compared to most Western major cities.To give you an indication of how much things cost, I collected some prices. I’m sure prices will vary a bit depending on where you buy and which brand you buy, but this should give you a good indication. I rarely eat in Western restaurants and have adopted a Chinese eating pattern. If you enjoy Western restaurants, you obviously will spend more. Living costs are relatively most expensive, house prices came down in 2008, but have risen a lot again and buying a house in a good location in Shenzhen can be expensive.
The areas near the border with Hong Kong (traditionally Futian and Luohu, but now also increasingly Nanshan) are a bit more expensive to live. Living in the center also has other benefits, for example closer to library, more shopping malls, more restaurants etc. Bao’an is currently fast expanding and when the subway finishes in 2011, Bao’an will be more convenient to live as well. Whenever you go to Bao’an (where the airport is) you definitely feel that it’s further away from the center: less high buildings, broader roads, less people.
Compared to Europe, Shenzhen is still much cheaper to live. Especially eating in restaurants in much cheaper. House prices had gone up a lot and were approaching European levels, but have since dropped off quite a lot; since the start of 2009 they are rising again. Never trust prices you see advertised online, but come here and look around. Because house prices dropped so much, it’s now easy to find a place to rent. Also realize that 100m2 is already quite big in China and it should cost below 5000Y/month. (I sometimes see advertisements targeted at foreigners asking ridiculous prices – be warned and just look around and bargain).