Expat life: why to choose Shanghai

by Alex
14. September 2015

Why did I choose Shanghai?

This is one of China´s largest cities. A lot of people from Europe don´t know how it is to live in a real world metropolis (London, New York, Shanghai), but I would really recommend it. It´s simply bigger and more interesting than you could ever think of. Those cities are often very expensive to live in, but Shanghai is one of the few major international cities where its still possible to live very cheap.

Certainly there is much restaurants and bars in Shanghai especialling on offering food and drinks to Westerners but it is still around 20 million Chinese people living in Shanghai. This means that one need not be worried about not “experience” the real China if you live here.



Finding accommodation in Shanghai is quite simple, though obviously not as cheap as in many other cities in China. The biggest problem with finding accommodation in China as a foreigner is often the communication with the landlord.

A good tip is to book a few nights at a hotel and then walk around looking for a flat after arrival. Just be sure to contact a real estate agent at least one week upon arrival so they can find some alternatives for you. In most cases, you can move in the same day you sign the contract. There are always a lot of available apartments for foreigners in Shanghai – I would not be worried about the availability of apartments.

Another common alternative is to rent a room in an apartment (flat share). This can be a great way to find friends, and that it is usually more flexible with how long you want to stay. Price wise, you could say that if you want to stay in a fresh 3-bedroom apartment in the center of the city must expect to pay anywhere between 6000-12000RMB per month.

Contact us – and we will find an apartment for you

You can please fill out the contact form if you want an apartment – and we will contact you as quick as possible with some alternatives to apartments for you.

Please add your:
– Budget
– Where you want to live
– The amount of bedrooms you want

If you go together with some friends, having your own apartment is definitely the best alternative in Shanghai. Living with people you don’t know might not always be a good alternative (based on my own experiences).


Shanghai’s nightlife is fantastisc. You will find everything from Chinese karaoke places to champagne lounges. New nightclubs open every week and it can therefore be quite difficult to know where to go for a special evening. However, there are a couple of magazines in English that comes out every month that include tips on where the best parties are held every night. Shanghai is frequently visited by the world’s best DJs.

The price level depends on where you go. There are bars where you pay 10RMB for a beer – and there are bars where you pay 80RMB for a beer. An average nightclub usually take between 30-55 for a drink. A bottle of whiskey / vodka usually cost around 400-600. One tip is to look out for special offers.

How to learn Chinese as an expat

Are you planning to study Chinese in Shanghai, you need to make a couple of choices. The first choice is whether you want to study at university or at a private school. Universities are cheaper but have larger classes. People often argue that it is much better to study Chinese in Beijing than Shanghai. This is because people in Shanghai have their own dialect, totally different from the Mandarin Chinese.

But I would argue that almost all people in Shanghai can speak Mandarin. In addition, Shanghai has an awful lot of people from other provinces in China. You will be amazed how few people living here that actually are from Shanghai. This means that you get a very good ability to understand many different dialects. I have friends who studied in Beijing several years but which is cod when they come to southern part of China for the first time and must make themselves familiar with other dialects.