The most popular districts for expatriates in Shanghai are Puxi and Pudong, where you will find a good selection of expatriate housing. Shanghai is divided by the Huangpu River and the names of these districts mean 'East' (Pudong) and 'West' (Puxi), referring to their position in relation to the river.
Puxi is the bustling 'downtown' area of Shanghai. It is ideal if you like to be close to bars, restaurants and shops, but more crowded than the east side of the river. Within Puxi, the following areas have proved popular with expatriates:
- Hong Qiao area - located just 15-20 minutes from downtown Puxi, this popular areas benefits from excellent transport links, a selection of international schools in the vicinity and easy access to shops and other amenities. It was mainly developed in the 1990s and has a high expatriate population. It is a good choice if you prefer to rent a villa rather than an apartment, although prices reflect the area's convenience. Hong Qiao is an excellent choice for families, as many of the city's international schools are based in this area.
- Lu Wan, Jing An and Xu Hui areas - These central areas offer a plethora of large serviced apartments. Due to space limitations, you will not find villas to rent in the central areas. Expatriates choosing to live in the downtown areas will benefit from having most amenities within walking distance and better opportunities to integrate into the Chinese community.
- QingPu, Ming Hang, Xin Zhuang, Song Jiang and Zhudi town areas - these suburbs are located in the west and south west and are further from the city centre, but prices are consequently considerably lower. If you have school-age children, these areas are worth considering due to their proximity to international schools.
Pudong is the more peaceful, green side of the river and is popular with people seeking quiet surroundings:
- Jin Qiao area - Jin Qiao has become a new expatriate haven, with a good choice of high quality villas and apartments on offer. Many residents prefer the area to Hong Qiao due to its choice of leisure facilities and international schools. Those who hope to become more integrated into Chinese society may be disappointed; the area is rather lacking in Chinese culture and character
- Kang Qiao area - this area has expanded in recent years and benefits from its proximity to the British International School and Shanghai Community International School. Some parts of the area are close to industrialised zones, so it is not considered as attractive as neighbouring areas.
When considering your choice of location, it may help to consider the following:
- What will my journey to work be like? Is there good public transport, or if I choose to drive, is there a problem with traffic congestion during peak commuting periods?
- How close are major roads and international airports?
- Is there a suitable international school close by for the children, or if they are younger, a nursery where they can be cared for during the day?
- Are social and leisure facilities located nearby?
- Will the area give me the opportunity to interact with local people and learn more about my host country?
Most expatriates will rent apartments and these are available in a range of sizes. Generally, apartments will be fully furnished, although you will often be given the opportunity to choose what you would like to keep and what you would like to have replaced. This can be useful if you have decided to bring only a small selection of favourite household items from home. Generally, kitchen appliances will be included. Serviced apartments may include extra services such as concierge, fitness centre, or maid service.
For a taste of old Shanghai, it is occasionally possible to rent an old detached house, often with a private garden, dating from the 20s or 30s. The majority of old houses are privately owned and you should pay careful attention to the state of the property, as they require a great deal of maintenance to keep them in good condition. These properties are very sought after, with rental prices reflecting the exclusivity of the property.
Some tips for finding accommodation:
In the advertisements section of the English language newspapers:
On the internet:
Shanghai's two youth hostels are located in the historic part of the city, close to the Bund.
- The Captain Youth Hostel is located at No. 37 Fuzhou Rd, Shanghai City, 200080. Tel. 86-21-63235053 Fax. 86-21-63219331
Rooms start from 50 RMB per night.
- The Shanghai Hiker Youth Hostel is located at 450 Jiang Xi Zhong Road, Shanghai.
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The districts of Xu Hui, Chang Ning (Hong Qiao and Jing An have many family friendly compounds. You can read about them all here on my blog:
For some insight into life in the Former French Concession have a look at these pages:
If you need some Advice on Leasing check out these pages:
If you are moving to Shanghai and need a trusted agent feel free to contact Adrienne Farrelly, one of Shanghai's oldest and trusted expatriate property agents.
"Expat agents speak your language"
2nd flr, Blk 5, 100 Fuxing Xi Rd, Xu Hui District, Shanghai, China.
T: (8621) 6471 0288 or 6471 0255
M: (86) 13122 810 421
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This is the latest update on the rental property market in the last quarter 2008 that maybe helpful to people moving here or adjusting packages. We expect adjustments to be made after Chinese New Year in late January.
Apartments and villas
Prices are dictated by supply and demand which has seen a significant shift over the pat few years. There have been many new properties come online in the past few years so their has been an increase in supply. This coupled with expatriates receiving smaller packages has seen a demand for medium to lower end properties that have been filling quickly. There are however still few high quality properties at the lower end of the market which means that the good ones tend to be rented out very quickly. Landlords know if their property is marketable or not and will give much less concessions as they know there will be someone else interested in renting it if they don’t concede to all of the first offer’s requests.
People who bought properties that were marketed and bought as investment properties and not homes will want to either lease out quickly at a lower rate, perhaps 15% off the current asking price or take advantage of the current Government concessions that came into place on November 1st and sell. Those properties that were bought as a home may be taken off the rental market and lived in by owners, sold off or rented out. Wealthy owners however will continue to keep their properties empty until they either find someone to lease for what they want or buy for what they want.
Recent survey of owners
A recent survey of owners indicated the following:
60% will keep the same rental price
30% will reduce rentals by 15%
10% will take off the market
Most renovated villas and apartments will still retain their current market price as there is always a market for these unique properties, especially the well renovated properties. Owners are aware of this and are prepared to wait for the right person to come along. Poorly renovated older properties will come down in price though and for those on a tight budget, these are the ones worth negotiating on. However, one word of warning, there may be plumbing, electrical and other ongoing problems after you move in due to the poor quality of the renovations. Check the electric supply at the time of inspection by turning on all the major lights and air-conditioners. If a fuse doesn’t blow then you will have enough power, if it does, get the landlord to put in more power lines before leasing it.
A recent survey of developers who rent out to exclusively to expatriates has shown that none will give any reductions whatsoever in rentals at this current time. The last quarter and first quarter of a year are typically the slowest periods and we expect to see more adjustments after Chines New Year. Many are taking a wait and see approach at present.
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