Is Chennai the most expensive Indian metro?
People in the US generally assume that New York is the most expensive city among US cities and they are partially right if they went by CPI (Consumer Price Index) as a yardstick but anecdotal evidence suggests that measure-for-measure, it is more expensive in the San Francisco Bay Area. For example, if you plug in the salary figure of $100,000 on this site for NYC as origin city and calculate how much that would equate to in San Jose, it will show a figure of $112,020.71 or in other words, one needs to make at least 12% more in the Bay Area. While in the US, the West Coast scores over the East, especially the Financial Capital of the US, in India, there has always been the perception that someone needs to make more in the Financial Capital of India, namely Mumbai, to survive, especially in lieu of the housing costs over there. But, that perception may have to change in view of the reality today that the South, more so Chennai than other major cities, is a more expensive place to live and consequently requires a higher salary to offset some of those costs.
Don’t believe me? Look at the latest CPI figures published by the Government of India on this site. Among the four metros, Chennai, with a March 2007 CPI of 585 is ahead of all the other three metros (Delhi – 508, Kolkata – 449 and Mumbai – 490). In fact, Kolkata and surprisingly Mumbai both have lower CPI scores than the national average for March 2007 which is 498. If you look at the March 2006 figure, even there you will see Chennai beating the other three metros by a wide margin. Now, is there not a justification for people in Chennai to demand higher salaries compared to their counterparts in the North?
I had a taste of Chennai’s high prices when I was in the market for buying a sofa set and was told by well-meaning relatives who had lived in the North that for the prices being quoted in Chennai, I could not only take a flight to Delhi and negotiate the best rates for the same class of furniture, but also have it delivered at home paying for the delivery charge all the way across from Delhi to Chennai and still have some money left over in my hands. I have also seen it in the prices that some of these migrant trading communities from up North charge, when they organize these exhibitions at C.P.Art Center or Shankara Hall. I have a feeling that they think every other person that comes to these exhibitions is a rich software bloke or other money-bag who will just pull a wad of notes or a gleaming credit-card and pay whatever list prices these people charge. That assumption may also not be entirely incorrect since like Buddha asked the woman who had lost her son to get food from that house where no death has occurred, to drive home the point about the universality of death, one can safely say that no house exists in some pockets of Chennai where some close relative is not in the US of A or some other country, thanks to Globalization :-).