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Shanghai, China

Shanghai

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Jan 13, 2023

Summary: Shanghai, China is a vibrant, modern city with a unique blend of traditional Chinese culture and modern international influences. Expats love the city's diverse culture, excellent food, and vibrant nightlife. The weather in Shanghai is generally mild, with temperatures ranging from the mid-50s to the mid-80s Fahrenheit (10-30 Celsius). The average cost of living for an expat is estimated to be around $1,500 to $2,500 USD per month, depending on lifestyle. The cost of a one bedroom apartment in Shanghai is typically around $1,000 to $2,000 USD per month, while a two bedroom apartment can range from $1,500 to $3,000 USD per month. The population of Shanghai is 24.2 million people.

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What do I need to know before moving to Shanghai?

When we asked people what advice they would give someone preparing to move to Shanghai, they said:

"Look at many places and use a checklist to make sure that everything works BEFORE signing any lease. Landlords move slowly after they have your deposit," remarked another expat who made the move to Shanghai.

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How do I find a place to live in Shanghai?

We asked expats how they chose their neighborhood and found a place to live. They answered:

"We lived in Shanghai before and wanted to start living in a familiar place, so we picked a neighborhood that we used to go to a lot," remarked another expat who made the move to Shanghai.

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What is a typical expat home or apartment like in Shanghai?

"Apartment in Chinese apartment building that is 6 floors tall. Yes, there are many embassies in this neighborhood so there are many expats and geopats here," remarked another expat living in Shanghai, China.

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What is the average cost of housing in Shanghai?

If you are thinking about moving to Shanghai, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"Higher with less quality BUT the wages are much, much higher than the same job back home. One bedroom apartments can range from 5-14, 000 rmb per month, depending on location, type of building, furnishings, etc," commented one expat who made the move to Shanghai.

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What should I bring when moving to Shanghai?

People living in Shanghai were asked what three things they wish they had brought and three they wish they had left behind. They wrote:

"I would have brought more walking shoes, more over the counter medicines and more winter socks," added another expat who made the move to Shanghai.

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Where should I setup a bank account in Shanghai?

We asked expats in Shanghai what banks they use and there advice about banking. They advised:

"I moved from Hong Kong to Shanghai and retain the services of HSBC in HK, which I access online or through the Shanghai branch," said another expat in Shanghai.

"Yes. I switched to HSBC, which together with their Premier service allowed me to easily transfer my salary to and from my UK bank accounts. This also made it easier applying for a mortgage locally. Once coming to China I also engaged with a local-foreign owned firm to assist with my personal finances. They gave me much insight into the local market and enabled me to invest RMB into local funds. A risky endeavour for some but with currency appreciation against the USD I'm set to make at least 2%pa in interest alone. Incidently the fund returned 7% last year," added another expat who made the move to Shanghai.

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Will I be able to find a job in Shanghai?

When we asked people about industries and career opportunities in Shanghai, they reponded:

"The position covered 11 countries, 17 manufacturing plants and about 10,000 employees. For overseas professional jobs, if that is the objective, land a position with a global corporation with the intent of transferring somewhere globally," commented one expat who made the move to Shanghai.

"The best way to come into this country is to be hired as an expat from another country. It is difficult, but not impossible to find a job here if one moves first here hoping to find a job. One will be hired as a local though and have to live as the locals do. Western companies will not hire one just because you are all ready living here. Be aware this country is very education conscious and degrees mean a lot. Just make sure if you do decide to come here and find a job, answer this question to yourself.."Why would a company hire you when they could get someone with a more advanced degree than you have, that speaks three other languages and the companies pay far less for these people?"," remarked another expat living in Shanghai, China.

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What is life like in Shanghai?

When we asked people living in Shanghai what life is like and how people spend their time, they said:

"Shanghai, in some ways is a very modern city like Tokyo or New York but very interesting between the duplicity of the modern and old at one time. Expat lives revolve around whatever they'd like it to be, whether it is school or family or sports or social clubs. One can find ones interest in some manner here," said another expat in Shanghai.

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Is there a lot of diversity? Are people in Shanghai accepting of differences?

"As in any expat community there are things that one can do and cannot do. This is still a communist country but Shanghai feels much more freedom. For the most part, anything goes as long as it is not critical of the government," remarked another expat who made the move to Shanghai.

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What are the schools in Shanghai like?

"A lot of parents are with great affluence, and the students there are mostly very spoiled. They held parties in mansion or up at the Bund, and they have very little to non-social concerns and responsibility. Their parents are so rich, they are willing to spend all their money on their single-child. You as a parent will be put under pressure if you don't send your kids to summer school in America, or if you don't send your kids to extra classes outside of school for SAT/ TOEFL preparation. The aim of the school is to send students to top university but not to prepare them for life. Students and teachers would criticized if you aren't getting top grades and you are expect to excel at everything. If you want your kids to grow up in an environment like this, I will hold my opinion. I wouldn't encourage you to enroll your child into the school, but instead perhaps look into Concordia or Yew Chung in Shanghai," commented one expat when asked about YK Pao School in Shanghai.

"One of the things that I really appreciate about Concordia is that they are an affiliate school of Columbia University Teachers College. I think if you're looking for the leading school in Shanghai in the teaching of reading and writing, then you should consider Concordia. Also, if you're looking for a place to live, then Jinqiao is a great place to consider. My family and I live in Jinqiao and have found it a great place to raise our children," remarked another expat living in Shanghai with children attending Concordia International School Shanghai.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

Shanghai, China

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