Is Shanghai a Good Place for Expats?

Shanghai, with a population of nearly 24 million (plus 10 million migrants), is unlike everywhere else I've gone, even in China. It is one of the most populous, vibrant, and developed cities in the world.

East and West collide in China's most vital industrial center. Shanghai's traditional lifestyles combine the best of China's history and contemporary in a unique way. While living in this lively city, I got to see antique shikumen mansions with European influences. The city has a cosmopolitan character due to the numerous foreign concession zones (marked districts) to Western nations around the turn of the century.

Shanghai, like every other metropolis, has both benefits and drawbacks.

EXPAT LIFE IN SHANGHAI: PROS AND CONS

SHANGHAI PERKS

UNIQUE EXPERIENCES BLEND THE CITY

There's never a dull moment in Shanghai. Shanghai is always hosting events, from art fairs to music festivals. As an expat in Shanghai, you will get to see the city. Wander down Nanjing Road or in the French Concession. At night, I recommend strolling along the Bund Promenade to enjoy the Huangpu River and the upscale restaurants and bars of Xintiandi. These are especially popular with young people and expatriates.

MULTICULTURAL DIVERSITY

Shanghai is a metropolis with a rich multicultural setting. A city where the traditional culture of Jiangnan (also known as Haipai culture) meets modernity and the traditions of the East lives in harmony with European and American civilizations. Thus, Shanghai draws individuals from all over the globe owing to a shear amount of chances.

As the city continues to expand, it’s obvious to see the rising presence of expats in Shanghai. This is one of the few sites in China where foreigners can rub shoulders with Chinese locals, hear a broad diversity of dialects and languages and consume foods from around the world. Living as an expat in Shanghai is a fantastic chance to discover various nations, cultures, and people.

PERSONAL SAFETY

Shanghai is a highly secure city for expats. It was regarded as one of China's safest cities. While most crimes are restricted to pickpocketing and petty thefts on public transportation, foreigners should avoid dark locations at night.

Shanghai is a really secure city in my opinion. I've never experienced problems late at night wandering through Puxi, Pudong, or Jing'an. The authorities are constantly on watch, especially when it comes to expats in Shanghai. But keep your bags closed, your money secure, and your eyes open.

FOODIE HEAVEN

Shanghai is a foodie's dream. Cuisine is inexpensive, delicious, easy to make, and tastes nothing like Western food. From soup dumplings (xiao long bao) to steamed buns, you'll never go hungry here.

That is, if you like eating. Others who can afford it may dine at three-star Michelin restaurants, while those on a budget can eat exquisite street cuisine. Enjoy a memorable meal at Xiangyang Road food stalls or South Yunnan Road food strip. Try the ubiquitous Chai Pan wonton soup, Hong shan yu (baked sweet potato), or any of the many noodle dishes.

Expats may locate TGI Friday's and Hooters in Shanghai, but there are also many foreign eateries. Shanghai has Japanese, Korean, Italian, Lebanese, and so on. A Bavarian bar with dark wood tables and chairs is one of my favorites. Their schnitzel, roast pork, and currywurst are fantastic!

SERVICES HEALTH

Many newcomers to Shanghai are worried about their health. In contrast to the local hospitals and clinics, private healthcare facilities provide everything foreigners need. If you require treatment locally, there are clinics with foreigner-only wings.

Primary healthcare providers include World Link, Shanghai United Family Hospital, and Shanghai East International Medical Clinic.

Shanghai is a safe city for families with children. Check with your company or acquire foreign health insurance before going to China. Expat health insurance cover a range of overseas medical costs. Worst of all, they make sure that foreigners can get the greatest care available locally. Also, keep in mind that private medical charges in Shanghai are typically as high as those in Hong Kong or the US.

Shanghai is an expat-friendly city, but it must do more to provide clean drinking water. Even if you live in a cleaner area of town, drinking tap water is still a no-no. Wash fruits and vegetables carefully in filtered water.

LIFE IN SHANGHAI CONS

CAN BE HECTIC AT TIMES

As one of China's most populous cities, the diversity of people and acts may be overwhelming. It's unavoidable. You become accustomed to it. If your workplace permits it, you may wish to change your work schedule.

Rush hour is hell. I've left my flat up to two hours early than required to escape rush hour traffic. Shanghai has several metro lines. At rush hour, trains every 2 or 3 minutes might be an uneasy closeness. Shanghai, like any other metropolis, has significant traffic. There's also a wonderful bike-sharing system!

APARTMENT RENTING IN SHANGHAI IS EXPENSIVE

Shanghai is one of China's priciest cities to rent an apartment in. A 100 square meter apartment in a typical new complex may range from 6000 RMB ($860) to 15,000 RMB ($2150).

Start your search for a budget-friendly apartment at SmartShanghai.com. I've had wonderful luck with rental real estate brokers. Some of them work online. The best way to find a reputable real estate agent is to visit the neighborhood and seek for large real estate offices along main highways and typically near popular housing districts.

Rent is normally paid one month in advance. The landlord normally asks two months' rent as a deposit, plus the first month's rent. High-end real estate in Shanghai is very competitive. The prospective landlord may ask for a security deposit to ensure the rental property is held for the new tenant. Of course, having the support of your job or friends would make things lot simpler.

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