The Upsides & Downsides of Living in Shanghai


A decade or so ago, only the bravest would have dreamed of living and working in Shanghai, but now the vast citys all the rage for ambitious expat professionals.

Most expats arriving from the West are either relocating for their present employer or taking a chance on furthering their careers in this most exotic of destinations. For Western businesses with global dreams, China is now the jumping-off point for expansion into Asia as a whole, needing long-term commitment resulting in expat families coming along for the ride. Surprisingly, only a few new arrivals have any experience of working in Chinese companies alongside Chinese employees.

For many expat professionals, its the first international reassignment or relocation, with Shanghai now a popular place for those looking to develop their portfolios. Its a city with many faces, as different from other Chinese mega-conurbations as it could be, thus giving a unique experience to all new arrivals, whether working or just visiting. The first shock is the population of over 24 million, all of whom seem to be on the streets at the same time, confirming newbies first impression of dynamism and modernity.

Shanghai is Chinas most crucial industrial hub as well as an amazing mix of tradition and modernity, giving the impression that the past and the present are coexisting in its varied districts and giving a cosmopolitan feel to the whole.

Multicultural diversity goes hand in hand with unique experiences and expat communities are well established as well as being supported by local government officialdom.

Rated as one of Asias safest environments, Shanghai offers a low crime rate, even although expats are advised to stay away from poorly lit areas at night. Local police in expat areas are committed to safeguarding expatriate districts, but zipping up bags and keeping wallets out of sight is still recommended.

Foodies will love the culinary scene as Chinese cuisine in general is fast to prepare, delicious and amazingly cheap. For unforgettable dining, a visit to the food stalls along Xiangyang Road is a must and, for those needing culinary diversity every so often, there are Japanese, Italian, Lebanese, French and other diverse dining options.

If youre concerned about healthcare standards, Shanghais private hospitals are everything they should be as long as employers provide adequate private cover, as treatment costs are amongst the worlds most expensive. Whilst on the subject of health, Shanghais tap water is best avoided and fruit and veggies should be washed with purified water. When youre renting accommodation, one question should be the provision of a water filtering system, and those allergic to penetrating winter chills should check the heating system.

What do you think of Shanghai? Let us know in the comments below!