Shanghai is a modern international metropolis that offers plenty of accommodation options for expats, both long-term and short-term. The city has over 24 million inhabitants including a large number of expatriates from around the world.
Before starting the search for the perfect apartment, take the time to learn about the different neighbourhoods and types of housing available in Shanghai.
Shanghai covers the area of 6,340 km² — it’s a huge metropolis divided into several districts, which are further divided into different towns and sub-districts and the city also has satellite towns and rural areas.
Puxi is not only the historic centre of Shanghai but also the heart of its commercial activity and a big residential area housing over 50% of the city’s residents. Puxi covers the districts of Hunagpu, Yangpu, Hongkou, Putuo, Zhabei, Xuhui and Jing’an.
It is also the area, which attracts the largest number of expatriates due to its environment and surroundings. You will have easy access to basic services and local administrations as well as big shopping malls, office buildings and skyscrapers.
Hongqiao and Hunagpu (in Puxi) are very popular among expats and the rent in these areas can also be much higher. Hongqiao is also home to one of the two international airports in Shanghai.
Pudong, located on the other side of Huangpu Rivers, is much quieter — even though the area is attracting more and more business and industrial activity. Pudong Airport is also located here.
Types of accommodation
Shanghai offers a variety of accommodation: apartments, individual houses, villas, studios, etc. Most of the available housing is already well-furnished and comes equipped with a standard set of appliances: a washing machine, a TV set, an oven and an air conditioning system. You can also choose to share an apartment — a popular practice among expats in the city who want to live in central areas without overspending on rent. If you staying for a short time, Shanghai offers plenty of hotel and services apartment options.
The cost of living in Shanghai is considered the highest in China — which is also reflected in rental pricing. Depending on the district, even a one bedroom apartment in Shanghai would go for around 6,000 yuan while larger two-bedroom places may leave you 10,000 yuan short. The pricing heavily depends on the district you plan to settle in.
Some of the most expensive accommodation options in the city are the old villas in the French Concession as well as newly-built modern high-rises in the city centre.
Note that management (care-taking) fees, as well as electricity, water and gas bill, are all paid separately.
You can easily find real estate agencies in Shanghai and a lot of them are used to working with foreigners — so finding English speaking staff to help you will also be a piece of cake. Scanning through websites and classified ads in local newspapers is also very helpful. If you are already in Shanghai, you can also stroll around different neighbourhoods to locate available housing — you are almost certain to find a real state agency nearby the housing complex you like which will help you with apartment search. As mentioned earlier, apartment sharing is very common — so do not hesitate to scan expat forums or post classifieds to become or find an apartment mate.