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Expat Views :
Living and Working in Shanghai




Introduction


Expatriate in Shanghai
Shanghai is China's most Westernized city, and the most comfortable one for expatriates without single most difficult aspect of living in Shanghai is the language: Mandarin Chinese is still, by far, the lingua franca, and without mastering the basics, an expatriate won't have access to all that the city has to offer.

These days, you can buy just about everything in Shanghai, although imported goods often carry a hefty price tag. And what can't be bought can always be made.

Photo:enterAsia Art

Villa in Shanghai
Homes for expatriates are modern and generously-proportioned, and range from city condominiums to suburban communities.

Shanghai is easy to get around, and taxis are inexpensive and easily available, and although taxi drivers don't speak English, expatriates quickly learn the names of common destinations -- or rely on `taxi cards,' cards with the names of destinations written in Chinese. The clean, modern subway system is equally easy to navigate.

Photo: Elite 8 China


The shopping in Shanghai is excellent, from street market bargains to designer duds, although larger sizes will have to stick up at home or have things tailor made -- not a bad option, considering Shanghai's tailors are considered to be Asia's finest. Shanghai's international schools offer children a good education, but the international school system here is still young. Only the Shanghai American School has a substantive high school and comprehensive facilities.

Shopping ShanghaiShanghai's crime rate is quite low, particularly for a metropolis of this scale and verve, and streets are generally safte day and night

-- although petty crime does occur in tourist areas like the Bund.Sports, travel and entertainment opportunities are growing:

Shanghai's basketball team produced NBA sensation Yao Ming, the Grand Theater gets musicals like Cats and Riverdance as well as prime local events, and travel to nearby destinations is comfortable and efficient.

If it's not quite on a par with more developed countries yet, it is on the fast-track to getting there.

Photo:enterAsia Art

This, too, is improving -- websites like the New York Times are no longer blocked, although during sensitive periods, it umay be blocked again, and certain articles will be blocked from time to time.

Shanghai is busily cleaning up her act in the pollution arena, but it is a process, and the city today fluctuates between polluted and less polluted -- not as bad as Bangkok, but not as good as Shanghai. 

 

Perhaps as a result of the challenges of trying to navigate Shanghai through both a linguistic and cultural barrier, Shanghai's expatriates are an unusually close-knit group, but one that is always willing to share their hard-won experience with newcomers. For new expatriates, the many clubs and associations make an excellent way to meet like-minded people who are all to happy to show you the ropes.


Socializing


Sports in ShanghaiPerhaps as a result of the challenges of trying to navigate Shanghai through both a linguistic and cultural barrier, Shanghai's expatriates are an unusually close-knit group, but one that is always willing to share their hard-won experience with newcomers.

For new expatriates, the many clubs and associations make an excellent way to meet like-minded people who are all to happy to show you the ropes. Several of the clubs have subcommittes or groups catering to special interests.

Photo:enterAsia Art

 

 



International Groups and Associations



Teenager's Life in Shanghai


A Teenager's viewpoint and advice

by Damon Lee (2005 graduate of the Shanghai American School)

Hola to all you teens out there who may be moving to Shanghai in the near future! I know all too well what you may be thinking. First of all, you must be thinking to yourself: China? Are you serious? Isn’t China a third world country? Dirty, poor and infected by disease – come on, SARS! This must be the end of the world! Fear not my fellow teens because before you start dreading about these horrid stereotypes commonly associated with China, let me tell you a little about life in Shanghai as a teenager.

expat teenager in Shanghai

Photo: Damon Lee


Shanghai is a busy city bustling with about 17.7 million people. Living in Shanghai is like living life in the fast lane where everything is hectic - the people, the traffic and undeniably, the bikes.Just learning to cross a street in Shanghai is a skill everyone must master.

Transportation in Shanghai is amongst the best in the country, it virtually extends to all corners of the city either by bus or subway, which are extremely cheap (riding the subway from one end of the city to the other end costs no more than 6 RMB or less than one US dollar).

For those of you who prefer a more comfortable and less crowded way to travel, there are also thousands of taxis in Shanghai which are unbelievably cheap compared to our western counterparts. As a result, getting around Shanghai is not a problem for us cash strapped teens who have to work within our “stingy” allowance.

Metro Shanghai: safe and cleanShopping is what Shanghai is all about. Going down to the Xiang Yang Handcraft Market is where one will find the most abundant choices of fake designer and branded clothing.

A Quicksilver T-shirt may go for as little as 40 RMB (less than 50 US cents) or a Boss leather wallet for 20 RMB (25 US cents). For those of us with more money there are department stores which line Xu Jia Hui or Nan Jing Xi Lu, where a tie may set you back 300-400 RMB ($US50).

Photo:enterAsia Art

 

There is only one problem with shopping in Shanghai - the shops close relatively early, by 9pm on weekends most shops are closed and even earlier on weekdays.

After shopping for 6 hours straight, one may feel a bit hungry. Not to worry! There are cafes, restaurants, and hundreds of convenience stores that line Shanghai’s streets. However, it is always best to keep an eye out for the cleanliness of some restaurants and to be selective of the ones you decide to go to.

Some places are cheap and it is not until you see what the place is like that you understand why it is so cheap. As a warning, it is best not to eat seafood at these cheap cafés and restaurants as it almost certainly guarantees several trips to the bathroom a day for the next week.

Where in Shanghai can one go to have a good time and to meet people just like me? There are numerous clubs, discos where many expatriate teens like us gather. Pegasus and C’s are only two of the clubs out of the hundreds littered around Shanghai populated by expatriate teens.

There is not much night life in Shanghai and the only places to find night life is at these clubs. These clubs never check your ID and are more interested in the money you bring, so go at your own risk. and C’s are only two of the clubs out of the hundreds littered around Shanghai populated by expatriate teens.

There is not much night life in Shanghai and the only places to find night life is at these clubs. These clubs never check your ID and are more interested in the money you bring, so go at your own risk. If you are not of the legal drinking age in China (18 years of age), and you get caught by the authorities, it will be a rather unpleasant experience.

For those that do not go clubbing there are many activities in Shanghai such as go-karting, net café’s, paint-balling and even rock climbing. See Sports

A word of caution: Drugs are not tolerated in China, and an offence relating to drugs has serious consequences. Keep in mind that China issues the death penalty on a daily basis! Remember you are a visitor into this country so abide by their rules and your experience of Shanghai will be one that will stay with you for the rest of your life!

See also Laws/Crime and Sentencing

 



Same Sex Partners



Homosexuality is still considered an aberration by Chinese officialdom, but foreigners -- as long as they don't flaunt it -- are exempt. The expatriate community has an open, active gay population, which includes several high-profile locals. It's important to remember, however, that as open as Shanghai may seem, flaunting homosexuality is asking for trouble.

See also Risk Investigation

 

 


Singles



Shanghai is a single man's paradise -- assuming his tastes run to young Shanghai women. The economic disparity between the foreigner and the average Shanghainese has created a breed of Western man-chasing Shanghai women, hungry for foreign passports and the luxurious foreign lifestyles. It is, as one man said, like being a kid in a candy store.

It's not quite the same for single Western women, who seem equally divided between those who date foreign men, those who date local men, and those who are so focused on their career that they don't have time for either.

 

See also Business Clubs and Entertainment for places to meet other expatriates.


Seniors


Senior citizens are highly respected in Shanghai, and indeed throughtout Asia, and as a result, seniors who live here or visit their families will find that they receive a great deal of attention, with their views being sought and opinions held in high regard.

Shanghai's seniors have a routine all their own, gathering in parks to exercise in the mornings, and the intrepid expatriate senior who goes along will find a new source of companionship -- possibly even in English, as many older Shanghainese attended missionary schools and speak flawless English.

With the household help to do the chores,, and more time with the grandchildren along with the perks of expatriate life, visiting grandparents often find China so agreeable that they return again and again!