Shanghai Expat Guide

What is it Like to Live as an Expatriate in Shanghai

Learn more about expatriate life in Shanghai

While Shanghai continues to be one of the most beautiful cities in China, it’s also a clear favorite for expats from around the world. The overall cost of expatriate life in Shanghai is low in some sectors of the city. Since expats earn quite well while working in Shanghai (averaging fourth-highest earnings in the world), expatriate find everything here to be within their means. Some even afford to live like royalty and afford the services of support staff to help them with their daily chores. Almost everything can be home delivered and that too within a couple of hours.

Shanghai Lifestyle

There is no dearth of spots in Shanghai where you can head out for a brief sojourn. You can take your pick from day-out visits to museums, gardens, animal parks, or zoological parks to weekend trips where you can explore national parks and engage in adventurous activities. There’s something for expatriate life in Shanghai to cherish and create memories from. Add to all this the city’s bustling nightlife and you have a place that you wouldn’t want to leave.

Food in Shanghai

But that’s just the beginning of expatriate life, what the beautiful city of Shanghai has to offer to its diverse expat population. The city is a food paradise for those who love to eat. Apart from all the international cuisines available, there are the traditional Chinese and Shanghainese cuisines that are just as delectable and mouthwatering. You may need to develop your taste buds for a few of them, and if you’re able to do that, you will find that there is no other cuisine that can match authentic Chinese servings.

Safety and Education in Shanghai for Expat

Is it safe to live in Shanghai?

Life in Shanghai

Expats with family and kids will find Shanghai as one of the safest cities in China to live in. The police force is always vigilant and is especially active in safeguarding the expat community in the city. The crime rate is very low, and most crimes are limited to pick-pocketing and minor thefts.

As for education, there are several private international schools in Shanghai that follow an international curriculum and cater to all academic requirements of expats. It depends on the expats whether they choose to send their wards to these expensive international schools or are okay with sending their kids to the less expensive Chinese schools. The biggest advantage of expat children attending Chinese schools is that they get to learn a new language, but most Shanghai expats will send their kids to an English speaking school.

Pollution in Shanghai

The air pollution in Shanghai can be quite bad at times, but the government has made some excellent progress in improving air quality in many Chinese cities, including Shanghai. It makes sense for expatriates to check the pollution levels online in Shanghai.

Transportation in Shanghai

Being a major Chinese city has its advantages. As one of the biggest cities in the country, Shanghai is packed with numerous metro lines, an even bigger network of bus routes, and also numerous taxis that ply the city roads day and night. Like any big city, the traffic can be quite bad during most commutes. For shorter distances, rickshaws are available to transport people to the many places around the city. You can use a ride-sharing application while in Shanghai.

Healthcare Services in Shanghai

expat healthcare

China’s private healthcare facilities have everything that Shanghai expats can ever expect. On the other hand, the facilities provided at the public hospitals and medical centers have a lot to be desired. Most of the expats prefer walking into a private hospital in China to get treatment, despite it being the costlier option. Several of these expats have insurance plans from their companies, while the rest usually buy international health insurance before traveling to China. These health plans ensure that expats in Shanghai never have to worry about the medical bills and can always seek the best available treatment near them. Note that private medical costs in China are some of the most expensive in the world and are often as expensive as you will find in Hong Kong or the United States.

Covid Situation in Shanghai (updated Oct 2021)

The current situation for expatriates living in Shanghai is that their risk of catching Covid there is quite low given the very strict infection controls implemented by the Chinese federal and local government. If you are travelling to Shanghai, like the rest of China, expect a very long and lonely quarantine. Almost from day one, China’s aim has been to eliminate the coronavirus entirely from within their borders. Lately, there have no reported locally acquired COVID cases in Shanghai and expatriates there can certainly rest assured that the local government will not allow Covid to take hold. It is highly recommended that expatriates living in China get their Covid vaccine. Also, the Cigna expat health plan is an ideal global health policy for expatriates residing in China.

Interacting with the Shanghai Expat Community.

Expats in Shanghai are mostly concentrated in popular neighborhoods like Jing’an district, Pudong, and the Former French Concession. Within these regions, you can expect them to live just like back home, partying and eating out with fellow expats in Shanghai for as long as they desire.

Here’s What Expats are Expected to Do After Arriving in Shanghai, China

  • Register with the Chinese Police so that the authorities can offer better assistance to you.
  • Keep Chinese maps handy, especially those that may be needed more than once, at least during the initial days of your arrival. We recommend using an online map via your smartphone.
  • Open a bank account to avoid any hassle while sending/receiving money.
  • Get a mobile sim card so that you can stay connected with everyone even when you’re on the go.
  • Be ready for the culture shock, but that can happen in almost any new country or continent you set your foot in.

Shanghai is today one of the most populous cities in China, but also an exciting city with lots of career opportunities for expats.