Five Things to Know About Shanghai


Fraser Clarke

China is a massive country, however expats are commonly attracted to a small number of places. One of the most popular over the last 125 years has been Shanghai, a stunning modern metropolis located in the east of the country.

A move to Shanghai can be an exciting and enriching one, however it also represents a big change from life in the West - so how should you prepare for a move? Here are our top five things to know.


As you would expect from such a vast city, the housing market in Shanghai has a diverse mix of properties to suit almost every budget.

Typically expats will live in serviced apartments or penthouses near the city centre. These modern skyscrapers are surprisingly spacious, however aren’t for everyone. More conventional houses are available outwith the centre of the city, however these can be extremely expensive unless you move some distance outwith the centre.

Prices vary depending on the neighbourhood, but are commonly lower than in central London, making Shanghai slightly cheaper than many other major cities.


China is renowned worldwide for how highly it values education, and Shanghai is absolutely no exception. The city is home to some high quality international schools teaching British. American and German (among other) curricula.

The country has an especially strong focus on the sciences and sport, as a result most schools have cutting-edge labs and high quality sports fields and equipment.

Naturally this comes at a cost, with the best schools often charging in the region of $3,000 per month. As the country is keen to attract the highest possible standard of medical talent however some employers offer an allowance to help cover the cost.


Shanghai’s healthcare system is considered by many to be the most advanced in China. The city has grown and developed at a remarkable rate in recent years, and the healthcare market is more akin to Singapore than many other parts of the country.

China has also been successful in attracting plenty of talent from the West, and so standards and models of care are very similar to those found in Europe and North America. 

As the country attempts to grow and develop a workforce of its own, plenty of opportunities have arisen for experienced Western trained medics to help shape the sectors’ future, making a move perfect for someone looking to pass on their skills to the next generation.


There are two ways of looking at a move to Shanghai; either it gives you the chance to live of a life of luxury at a lower cost than London or New York, or heavy taxes mean that it’s nowhere near as financially rewarding as a move to the Gulf.

If enhancing your finances are the main reason behind your decision to take your career overseas then we’d recommend looking elsewhere. There is still plenty of money to be made in China, and in Shanghai especially, however the culture shock associated with the move will be too much for someone simply looking to boost their bank balance.

Flights, food and transport costs are all far lower than in the West, whilst an HSBC report published in 2015 showed that a quarter of expats in the city make more than $300,000 annually.

A financial boost is certainly a reason to consider Shanghai, but don’t make it your main attraction.


China is in a unique position whereby it blends traditional Oriental tradition with modern-day Western cultures.

Shanghai is so large that travelling through the city can often feel like travelling between different countries. Nanshi, the old town, is a stunning historical throwback to traditional China. Stunning intricate designs are carved into uniquely Chinese houses, whilst at night the warm lighting makes it truly beautiful.

In less than an hour however you can find yourself in the hectic, modern Lujiazui. Shanghai’s financial district. This area is full of enormous buildings, traffic and people commuting between their offices and Metro stations. 

This makes Shanghai a truly fascinating place to call home. Few locations can allow you access to authentic handmade Chinese food between a Starbucks and a McDonald’s. 

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