Shanghai, China
Shanghai, China
Shanghai, China

Shanghai

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Jul 11, 2021

Summary: Located at the mouth of the mighty Yangtze River and with the Huangpu River running directly through its heart, Shanghai is one of the most important cities in China. Roughly 25 million people call home to this international hub of trade and finance.

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What do I need to know before moving to Shanghai?

Live in Shanghai? Answer this Question

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," said another expat in Shanghai.

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How do I find a place to live in Shanghai?

Live in Shanghai? Answer this Question

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," said another expat in Shanghai.

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We've partnered with Explorastay, the largest aggregator of 1-12+ month stays. Compare listings and rental rates from 20+ accommodation sites in one search, including: Booking.com, VRBO, Expedia, UniPlaces, Spotahome, HousingAnywhere, Zumper and over a dozen more accommodation companies. Search rental properties in China.

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

Live in Shanghai? Answer this Question

"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 in Shanghai.

What is the average cost of housing in Shanghai?

Live in Shanghai? Answer this Question

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," explained one expat.

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Search for Rentals

Need a rental in China? We've partnered with Explorastay, the largest aggregator of 1-12+ month stays. Compare listings and rental rates from 20+ accommodation sites in one search, including: Booking.com, VRBO, Expedia, UniPlaces, Spotahome, HousingAnywhere, Zumper and over a dozen more accommodation companies. Search for Rentals in China

What to Bring When Moving to Shanghai (and what to leave behind)

Live in Shanghai? Answer this Question

When we asked expats living in China what they wish they had brought when moving to China and what they wish they had left at home, they replied:

"I would have brought more walking shoes, more over the counter medicines and more winter socks," explained one expat living in Shanghai.

Where should I setup a bank account in Shanghai?

Live in Shanghai? Answer this Question

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," remarked 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," explained one expat living in Shanghai.

Will I be able to find a job in Shanghai?

Live in Shanghai? Answer this Question

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

"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?"," said another expat in Shanghai.

What is life like in Shanghai?

Live in Shanghai? Answer this Question

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 person in Shanghai.

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

Live in Shanghai? Answer this Question

"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," explained one expat.

What are the schools in Shanghai like?

Live in Shanghai? Answer this Question

"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," said another expat in Shanghai with children at YK Pao School.

"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 parent with kids at Concordia International School Shanghai in Shanghai.

"The Puxi campus is mostly local Chinese and Korean students( and mostly full with little turnover since most students are local) while the Pudong campus is more diverse with more Europeans and expat families so there is more turnover. While parents used to transfer to Puxi, most now stay at the Pudong campus unless they live near the Puxi campus. Apply to the campus that fits your needs," explained one expat living in Shanghai, China.

"Talk to the teachers. They are the ones that will be with your child from 8 to 5. Ask questions and if the teachers know what they are doing, they will be more than happy to tell you EVERYTHING about what goes on in their class," said another parent with children at Fudan-Vanke Experimental School in Shanghai.

"The middle school was founded in 2007 and still finding its feet. Admin still a little shaky. A lot of good teachers left, but new management and lots of new teachers coming in Sept 2010, so improvements expected. The school's unique selling point is its attempt to bridge the gap between Western and Eastern education and combine the strengths of both, and support both languages at native level, which sets it apart from other international schools. Fees are about half of those at other international schools in Shanghai," commented one expat when asked about Shanghai United International School in Shanghai.

"Go and see it to feel the difference with other bilingual schools. This is a caring community, it is not a machine that stamps children into the same shape and size. Teachers show genuine care and attention to individual children, most of the foreign teachers have been in China for some time and are committed. Children develop genuine respect for their teachers. Consider the Chinese element of the curriculum carefully if neither of the parents speak Chinese or just consider it a great opportunity to learn more Chinese yourself," explained one expat in Shanghai, China with kids at YK Pao.

About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000. Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Some of Joshua's more popular articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 8 Best Places to Live in Croatia and the Living in Mexico Guide. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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Cigna Expat Health InsuranceExpatriate Health Insurance

Get a quote for expat health insurance from our partner, Cigna Global Health.
Get a Quote

Shanghai, ChinaGuide to Living in Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China: Cost of Living, Healthcare and What to Know About Living in Shanghai

China Forum China Forum
Join our China forum to meet other people living in Shanghai, China.

ContributeContribute
Help other expats and newcomers by answering questions about the challenges and adventures of living in Shanghai.

Healthcare in ChinaHealthcare in China

Expats living in China discuss health insurance and quality of medical care in China. Tip 1: if you're going to the hospital in China (or to a doctor), bring a translator!

Shanghai, ChinaMoving to Shanghai, China

Expats offer advice about everything you need to know before moving to Shanghai: what to bring (and what to leave behind), how to find housing and more.

Real Estate ShanghaiReal Estate in Shanghai

Advice about renting and buying real estate in Shanghai

Shanghai, ChinaExpats Talk about Living in Shanghai

Expats talk about what it's like living in Shanghai, China: Cost of Living, Healthcare and What Newcomers to Shanghai Should Know

Expat Report: Moving to Shanghai

An expat in Shanghai wishes she had brought more walking shoes, winter socks and OTC medications. She advises apartment hunters to make sure everything in the apartment works before you sign the least.

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