This is how you get an apartment in Shanghai

by Alex
14. August 2015

You want to live in Shanghai? Congratulations! The vibrant metropol is waiting for you! What, you have no home? You do not know how to search for an apartment in Shanghai? Do not worry, here’s a little guide for everyone who wants to have a long-time stay in Shanghai!

Shanghai has a lot of beautiful parks to offer.

Shanghai has a lot of beautiful parks to offer.

Research questions

Before you can find an apartment, you have to ask yourself a these questions: Where do you want to live? What kind of apartment do you want (or what can you afford..)? And how will you find your apartment?

Where do you want to live?

Before the house hunting really gets going, you should think about where you want to live.

Shanghai is really a big city, which means that travelling long distances every day for school or work will be exhausting. How long are you willing to travel every morning?

Shanghai is simply gigantic. The proportions are hard to comprehend. Taking the metro from one end of the city to the other end will approximately take around three hours. Yes, three hours!

What I would suggest for you is using Google maps and have a look at both the walking distances, but also for bus and metro. The metro/subway system is, even though its extremly crowded, very good to use during the rush hours. Taxi or bus are not recommended alternatives due to the traffic situation.

When you search for roads in Shanghai trough Google Maps, be aware of that “Lu” means “Road” in Shanghai. So if you want to write “Changle Road”, write “Changle lu”.

Your search box should look something like this while searching for apartments in Shanghai. Sorry for the Norwegian translation.

Your search box should look something like this while searching for apartments in Shanghai. Sorry for the Norwegian translation.

Most of the famous tourist attractions have English names in Google Maps. You will be able to compare the distances to “important” stuff such as The Bund and the TV Tower.

This picture, brought you by Wikimedia Commons, shows the different city areas in Shanghai:

The different city areas in Shanghai.

The different city areas in Shanghai.

You can divide Shanghai into two parts: Xuhuiqu part of Puxi, which means “west of the shore” and the counterpart to Puxi which is Pudong, “east of the shore.” Pudong is a special economic zone, there is also the modern financial district of Shanghai. Most multinational companies bringing their expats to Shanghai are situated in the Pudong area.

How do you want to live?

You might already have an idea on where you want to live in Shanghai. Now it´s time to figure out how you want to live. There are a lot of types of apartments in Shanghai. For small-time stay, a hotel or hostel might be the perfect alternative.

Three star hotels have an average price of approximately 200 RMB each night for a room.

But now to the long-term housing options!

There are so-called in Shanghai Serviced Apartments. These apartments are often in some recent high-rise buildings. The rental period is usually flexible and furnitures, kitchen and household utensils are included in the price. There is a maid service, restaurants in the building, shopping service, etc. You virtually live in a hotel.

The prices are often at around 500-600 RMB/night, which means it is suitable for expats more than for foreign students in Shanghai.

The most normal solution is to rent an own apartment where you have to do “everything” yourselves. However, even though its not like a hotel, you still have the freedom to live in central Shanghai with a lot of great facilities nearby.

You find those kinds of property rentals in categories such as “Villa”, “Lane house”, “Old apartment” and “New apartment”.

Read more about it on´s website.

An example of a "new apartment". Foto: HomeofShanghaihousing

An example of a “new apartment”. Foto: HomeofShanghaihousing


What you should look for when choosing home?

Once you’ve discovered an interesting flat display, you should do the following: find out with Google Maps how far it is away from your office or the university by public transport. Do not choose homes that are more than an hour away. Even though you are sitting at home thinking “I will handle it, no problem”, you will not handle it. Believe me.

Google Maps is very easy to use even without any Chinese knowledge. The buses in Shanghai might be a litt problem to handle without reading og speaking a bit Chinese, but the metro is very easy to use for tourists and expats. I still have not met anyone who has not been able to take the metro in Shanghai (and I do not a lot of people in Shanghai..).

After you´ve travelled a couple of times, the travelling is not very difficult to handle.

Great apartments are available in central Shanghai.

Great apartments are available in central Shanghai.

Good luck finding an apartment in Shanghai!