Beside being China’s financial and commercial center, Shanghai is also a renowned cultural place. This dynamic megalopolis is a unique mix between Chinese history, colonial architecture and contemporary skyscrapers. 21st century’s Shanghai is a cosmopolitan city constantly changing and attracting more and more tourists and expats from around the world.
A booming city
Shanghai is a unique city that symbolizes the junction between East and West. The ancient Chinese architecture of the Jade Buddha Temple or Longhua Temple is mixed with the European architecture of the Bund and the French Concession. Shanghai also hosts one of the world’s highest building, the Shanghai Tower, located in Pudong. Shanghai offers all the cultural, culinary, shopping and leisure experiences you would expect from one of the most dynamic cities in the world.
With China’s main trading and financial center Lujiazui, Shanghai ranks fifth in the Global Financial Centers Index in 2016. Located in the Yangtze Delta, it is home to the largest port in China and the most active container port in the world. In 2009, the Shanghai Stock Exchange became the third largest in the world by the volume of transactions and the sixth by the total capitalization of listed companies. Since 1992, Shanghai has experienced a 8 to 10% growth every year. The city is undoubtedly one of the most important industrial centers of the country. In the last few years, Shanghai has also become a hub to develop the most advanced technologies, in particular computer science, microelectronics, and service industry.
A cosmopolitan city
Shanghai is by far the most cosmopolitan city in mainland China as it is the first economic hub of the country. There are many expat communities often located in specific areas of Shanghai. Korean and Japanese communities usually live in Gubei, a neighborhood in Changning district. Unlike most cities in China, Shanghai has thousands of foreign supermarkets, shops, and restaurants which make expats’ daily life a lot easier. Generally speaking, Shanghai people are also more open and some can speak English very well.
Where do expats live in Shanghai?
For comprehensive information about housing in Shanghai, check out the Shanghai Real estate Guide for Expats in 2017.
Shanghai is divided in two by the Huangpu River: Puxi, the West part and Pudong, the East part. Downtown Puxi is the liveliest area in Shanghai. It is ideal if for those who want to be close to bars, restaurants, and shops, but is much more crowded than the eastern neighborhoods. In Puxi, the following districts are home to many expatriates:
- Hongqiao: Located 15-20 minutes from the center of Puxi, this popular district boasts an excellent transport network, a selection of international schools and easy access to shops and other daily life services. This neighborhood was particularly developed in the 1990s and has a large expatriate population. It is a good choice if you prefer to rent a house rather than an apartment, although the high prices reflect the popularity of the neighborhood. Hongqiao is a perfect choice for families as many of the city’s international schools are based there.
- Former Luwan, Jing An and Xuhui districts: These central districts offer a plethora of furnished apartments. Due to space limitations, you will not find any villas to rent in the center. Expatriates who choose to live in the center of Shanghai benefi from the best local services and the best opportunities to integrate into the Chinese community. For a real immersion into Shanghai people’s life, you can opt for a lane house in a traditional Liliong.
- Qingpu, Minghang, Song Jiang and Zhudi: these suburbs are located in the west and southwest and are further away from the city center, but prices are considerably lower. If you have children, you may consider these neighborhoods because of their proximity to international schools. The main problem of these locations is that they can be very remote from the city center.
Pudong is a more quiet district with plenty of green areas and parks everywhere. The main neighborhoods are:
- Jinqiao: This neighborhood has become a new haven for expatriates, with a large selection of quality housing. It provides expats with a nice selection of high-quality villas, apartments and serviced apartments in Shanghai. Many residents prefer this neighborhood to Hongqiao because of the type of schools and international institutions more suitable to Anglo-saxon people with several British and American schools. Those who look for immersion into Chinese society, however, may be disappointed; these areas look more like American suburbs than proper Chinese neighborhoods.
- Kangqiao: This area has expanded in recent years and benefits from its proximity to the British International School and the Shanghai International Community School. Some parts of the neighborhood are close to the industrial hub and therefore considered less attractive than the neighboring districts.
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