Expats in Shanghai have typically concentrated their residences in three areas;
- Pudong: the Jinqiao area
- Puxi: the Jing’an and Luwan areas
- Hongqiao: the Gubei, Xuhui, and the area near the Hongqiao airport
These areas have been described in detail in the section on “Areas to Live In.” You may be an experienced expat who is returning to Shanghai for your third stint, or you may be working here for the first time. In either case, it is very important to weigh many factors before making your final decision of where to live for the next few years. These factors are discussed below.
Selecting your Home
Whether or not you engage a real estate agent, you must decide where to live. To do this, you will probably have to prioritize the list below:
- Need to be close to one of the two airports: Most international flights leave from Pudong, while most domestic flights leave from Hongqiao.
- Type of school required, if any: There are very good international schools in Hongqiao and Pudong.
- Proximity to shopping and entertainment areas: Puxi remains the main entertainment area, while Hongqiao and Pudong have numerous Western food markets.
- Do you have to be close to a hospital? There are many first-class hospitals in Puxi and Hongqiao, while Pudong has a couple in the Jinqiao area.
- Desired quality of air and “green” space: Pudong has the most open space; Puxi is the city center, while Hongqiao is more like a suburb, but not as open and green as Pudong.
- Do you want to be near your friends or company employees?
- The type of transportation you will use to go to work and/or shopping: Ask your colleagues for help on understanding the traffic patterns and times of highway congestion. Perhaps you will decide to use the subway system or even the bus.
- How important is it to be close to your office?
In selecting your area of residence, you should also keep in mind where many expat families in a particular life cycle have chosen to live:
- You travel a lot: It will take a taxi about an hour to go to the Pudong airport from the Puxi side of Shanghai – ditto with going to Hongqiao airport if you live in Pudong. You can halve that time if you live on the same side of the river as your desired airport.
- You have school-age children: Almost all of the international schools are located in Jinqiao, Gubei, Hongqiao, or Minhang.
- You have infant(s): The villas will be in Hongqiao or Jinqiao. Apartments for expats can be found in many locations, but especially Gubei, Jinqiao, Luwan, and Jing’an.
- Couple or single person: The main shopping and entertainment areas are in Lujiazui, Jing’an, Luwan, or Xujiahui.