Overview of Shanghai

Shanghai is divided in two by the Huangpu River. The east side is called Pudong, while the west side is called Puxi. Most expatriates often prefer living in the downtown areas of Puxi, while there are some that rather live in Pudong due to the large number of international schools in the area. Overall Shanghai has a total of 16 districts. In Shanghai the housing options are diversified, like all other major metropolitan cities around the world, properties available include townhouses, semi-detached houses, apartments (Private & Serviced Apartments), and fully detached houses which are often generally referred to as “villas”. Briefly, Singles and young adults often settle in the downtown districts of the city where the nightlife is affluent. Students prefer living close to their universities where cheap living apartments are supplied. Families with Kids prefer mid-levels where schools are in the neighborhood and big apartments or villas are supplied. Quality houses are located all around Shanghai from Xuhui to Lujiazui to the Green City of Jinqiao where plenty of high-end apartments, serviced apartments and dazzling villas can be found.

  • Townships: 210 Towns and Subdistricts
  • Timezone: China Standard Time (UTC + 8)
  • Government Type: Municipality
  • Postal Code: 200000-202100
  • Population: 24,152,700
  • Area Code (Local/Int.): +21/+86
  • Demonym: Shanghainese
  • City Flower: Yulan Magnolia
  • Religion: Buddhist 10.4%, Protestant 1.9%, Catholic 0.7%
  • Language: Mandarin, Shanghainese
  • Internet Domain: .cn


Living in Shanghai

As China’s industrial and financial center, living in Shanghai is relatively safe, and basic facilities and amenities are always conveniently available. Shanghai has an extensive public transportation system consisting of metro lines, bus routes and taxis, all of which can be paid by the Shanghai Public Transportation Card. The Shanghai Metro incorporates both subway and light metro lines, which extends to every major district and many suburban districts. With nearly 1000 bus lines, the Shanghai bus routes network is one of the most extensive in the world.

Like any other expanding city, private car ownership has been rapidly increasing over the years, and therefore increasing traffic concerns. In the city center, there are several elevated expressways to ease the congestion, but the demand continues to push the limits of the city’s capacity. To manage the growth of new private cars on the road, the Shanghai government auctions out only a limited number of license numbers every month. In addition, only those who are registered Shanghai residents or have paid social insurance and income tax for over 3 consecutive years may purchase a license.

Some environmental problems include smog, water and noise pollution, as well as overpopulation. Air pollution in Shanghai is low compared to other major Chinese cities, but still high by world standards. Fortunately, with more than 130 parks free-of-charge around the city, the extensive public park system in Shanghai provides residents with some serenity.

Despite living with problems typical of life in a megacity, Shanghai remains the glitzy “Pearl of the Orient” in many ways. As one of the most expensive cities in the world for expats, sometimes the cost of living in Shanghai can be a pressure for those on a budget. Residents with a taste for luxury goods will find a plethora of choices in any of the high-end shopping malls around the city. The cosmopolitan atmosphere of life in Shanghai exudes a vibrant nightlife and entertainment scene to allow anyone to indulge in delight. However residents with a tighter budget need not worry, a stroll around the neighborhood would most likely have plenty of choices to suit your needs.



Moving to another city or country is never easy. Especially when you have been relocated to China, where the immense linguistic and cultural differences can be very overwhelming. If you are moving with your family, one of the biggest concerns is the education for your children. Fortunately in Shanghai there are several international schools, kindergartens and bilingual schools with different curriculums and high academic standards.

  • 1.International Schools

    Shanghai boasts one of the largest concentrations of international schools in China. Most schools either follow the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum or the curriculum taught in their respective home countries. The primary teaching language is usually English or the language of the school’s home country. Standard coursework often does feature local culture, however, and many schools teach Mandarin or Cantonese from a very young age.

    International schools can also be expensive. Expats should try to negotiate a place at an appropriate school before arriving in Shanghai.

    View International Schools
  • 2.Bilingual Schools

    Shanghai’s private schools tend to either be based on the state model or integrate aspects of foreign curricula. While they predominantly teach in Chinese, some offer instruction in English.

    Private schools in Shanghai attract students from diverse but generally wealthier backgrounds. Tuition tends to be more costly than that of public schools, but still lower than those of the international schools. As can be expected, it can generally be assumed that the city’s bilingual schools offer better facilities and a wider range of extra-curricular activities than state schools.

    View Bilingual & Local Schools
  • 3.International Kindergartens

    International kindergartens are very popular among expatriates in China, specially in a city like Shanghai. They are spread all over the city which makes them easy to find. They offer better facilities and wider range of activities than local kindergartens. As can be expected, tuition fee is generally more costly than that of local ones.

    View International Kindergartens
  • 4. Language Institutes

    This institutes offer a wide variety of non-degree programs as well as HSK preparation. It is an ideal choice for those expats willing to learn and embrace the chinese language. Several courses are offer and they may vary from institute to institute. In addition they have tailored hours to meet your specific schedule.

    View Language Institutes
  • 5. Public Schools

    As the Chinese economy and its expat population continues to expand, more foreigners are sending their children to public schools in China. Foreigners are becoming more comfortable with the idea of staying in the country for the long-term, and some want their children to assimilate as well as they can.

    As is the case elsewhere, some public schools are better than others. Overall, the best schools in Shanghai offer high standards and may even be more competitive and rigorous than the schools in an expat's home country.

  • 6.Homeschooling in Shanghai

    Homeschooling is becoming more popular with locals and expats in China, especially in larger cities such as Shanghai. This might be a legitimate option for expats staying in Shanghai for the short-term who are unable to afford private or international schools.

    Unfortunately, however, homeschooling in China is essentially illegal, and is largely practised based on a legal oversight despite the law explicitly stating that children have to attend a school for at least nine years. The government has become increasingly vocal about its disapproval of homeschooling in recent years and has released numerous statements to this effect. Homeschooled children in China are prevented from writing the gaokao, which essentially means they are unable to attend a Chinese university.