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Shanghai Basics

 

 Welcome home!

 

The largest city in China, Shanghai has over 20 million residents. For newcomers, it is easy to get overwhelmed by all
the hustle and bustle the city offers. With these basics in mind, however, you will be running around Shanghai like a local
in no time.

 

 
Weather Essentials

 
Shanghai is located on the coast, and is subject to some pretty dramatic shifts in weather. The city has all four seasons, with the winters and summers much more pronounced. Temperatures are lowest in January and February, where the mercury can drop to 3°C. With humid conditions, wind, snow, and a lack of proper insulation, these temperatures can feel even lower. The summer in Shanghai is a mix of humidity, storms and haze. Temperatures in July and August can reach upwards of 35°C or higher. A 90% humidity range makes this even more unbearable. The months of April and May in the spring, as well as October and November in the fall, are perfect for long strolls on the Bund  or bike rides in the Former French Concession. The weather is temperate and sometimes balmy, with a light sprinkle of rain every now and again. When getting dressed, it’s really important to consider the time of year. Winter weather, reminiscent of Central Europe, requires layers of thick clothing. Summer, on the other hand, is the right time for light cottons, shorts and sandals. When headed to the office, remember that Shanghai is a very fashion-forward city. Dress is business smart, with men typically wearing suits and women in heels and dresses. Jeans are frowned upon in most workplaces, as are sleeveless dresses except in the hottest of months. This dress style is also applicable when going out for the night.  Shanghai’s glamorous and expensive nightlife scene is the place where a photo opportunity can always present itself.

 

Your First Few Days in Shanghai

 

Airports

Two international airports service Shanghai, Pudong in the East and Hongqiao in the West. For those arriving at Pudong

Airport,  the 40km trek to the city can be done either by taxi or by taking the world’s fastest elevated train, the Maglev.

Reaching speeds of over 400km/h, the Maglev will have you close to downtown in 8 minutes. Honqiao Airport, which

handles most domestic flights and flights to Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, is much closer to downtown Shanghai.

A wait in the long taxi rank can be arduous, but the 20 minute cab ride to downtown more than makes up for it.

 


Visas

 
Visas are required prior to arrival in China. There are many types, the most common of which are:
L: Tourist Visa
F: Business Visa
Z: Permanent Resident Visa
All have specific requirements, so it is important to check with your local consulate well prior to your arrival. Upon arrival,
foreigners with an F or Z Visa are required to register with the local police authorities.   

 

 

Health Check

 
All foreigners with an F or Z Visa are required to undergo a health check by local authorities. Jason Property can help to
arrange this, although most employers will take the lead with this process.

 


Money


The currency is China is the Renminbi (RMB, kuai (pronounced kuh-why) or yuan). Economic growth in the country 
means that the value of the RMB is constantly changing. Your local bank can help figure exact exchange rates for you. 
Most ATMs will accept international bankcards, while credit cards are typically not used for retail or restaurant purchases.
It is also rare to be able to use foreign currency to conduct business transactions.

 

 

Mobile Phones

 

 It is rare for an expat to sign up for a typical mobile phone plan. Most opt instead to use GSM Standard SIM cards, which

are pay-as-you-go. These cards are available throughout Shanghai at any place mobile phones are sold. They come in

RMB50 and RMB100 values.

 

 

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Business Basics

 

 Business Hours


Most businesses are open from around 9 in the morning to 10 in the evening, daily. It is not uncommon to have some
businesses close as early as 4 p.m., while there are an increasing number of 24-hour businesses.

 

 

Banks and Government Offices

Banks and Government offices are open from 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. Monday to Friday.

 

Official Holidays

 
There are several public holidays throughout the year. The biggest of these is Chinese New Year in January or February,

 National Worker’s Holiday in May and the National Holiday in October. Other holidays include Tomb Sweeping Day in

April, Dragon Boat Festival in June and Mid-Autumn Festival in August. How long each holiday lasts, and which days

workers are entitled to take off vary. Dates are published annually by the Chinese Labor Bureau. In addition, it is

recommended to talk with your employer around their specific policies.

 

Time Zone


Shanghai, as well as the rest of China, operates under Beijing Time. This is equivalent to GMT + 8h regardless of where

you travel in the country.


Tipping


Tipping is not necessary in China. Most businesses will even refuse a tip if offered. The exception to this is the occasional

high-end restaurant where a gratuity will be included on the bill.


Power and Electricity

 

Be careful when bringing over electronics from your home country. Many an expat has blown a device by simply plugging

it into the wall. Electricity in China is 220 volts, much higher than many places around the world. Converters are available

for purchase at many electronics stores.


Language


Although China’s official language is Mandarin, most local Chinese will speak a little English. Don’t be surprised, though,

if they are entirely fluent! Most multinational companies will operate in both languages. Local Shanghai residents also

speak their own distinct dialect, Shanghainese. A basic knowledge of Mandarin is helpful for any expat moving to China.

There are many schools that offer adult education at reasonable rates.

 


Emergencies


 Police 110  

 Fire Services 119
 
 Ambulance 120

  

 

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 Where Should I Rent?

 

 In a word, Shanghai is massive! It has grown from a sleepy port city in the 1800s to a mega-city the size of some U.S.

states. The city is divided into two main areas separated by the HuangPu River: Puxi to the west of the River; and

Pudong to the east of the River. Puxi is the original home to the foreign concessions laid by the Americans, Germans,

British and French. Pudong, which until 20 years ago was primarily farmland, has undergone a renaissance as a global

center for finance, business and massive skyscrapers. Each area has subdivisions with distinct character and amenities,

perfect to fit most expat tastes.

 


Neighborhoods in Puxi

 

Xintiandi (Luwan District)


The fashionable area of Xintiandi is one of Shanghai’s most sought after residential areas. The area boasts amazing

shopping, dining and entertainment options. Its downtown location also offers the convenience of travel to other areas

of the city. The namesake of the neighborhood, the Xintiandi Development, operates as an open-air avenue of shops

and restaurants where the crème de la crème dine al-fresco while watching the sun go down.  High-end luxury apartments

are the norm in this neighborhood, with smaller living spaces. Traffic noise, busy public areas and general congestion

make this an area more for young singles than those with families.

 

 Jing'an

 

Situated around the 750-year-old Jing'an Temple, a monument of gold and wood, this neighborhood is the primary

business hub for Puxi. Some of the city’s largest and newest office towers are located here along Nanjing Road,

one of Shanghai’s main thoroughfares. High-end shopping malls, 5-star hotels and restaurants line the streets. Many

expats congregate at the Shanghai Center, home to the Portman Ritz Carlton hotel and several international restaurants.

Given these options, the area is known for its throngs of tourists and heavy foot traffic.  Public transportation is one plus

of this neighborhood, easily accessible by some of  the main city’s subway lines. With all these factors given

consideration, the Jing’an area is more for business and entertainment than raising a family.

The Former French Concession

This is where Shanghai gets its nickname “The Paris of the East.” With its tree-lined streets (some say the French

transported them from the Champs de Elysees), quaint brick homes and laid-back attitude, this area is a romantic

throw back to a bygone city. Low-rise apartments, as well as restored colonial properties, are plentiful in this

neighborhood. Art galleries, boutiques, cafes and small restaurants are also abundant. Its downtown location also

makes it convenient for travel. The Former French Concession is a great area for young singles, couples and families,

as well as anyone that wants to live in a quiet area with greenery and charm.


Huangpu

The area around the city’s river artery has seen Shanghai through the ages. With the city’s most authentically Chinese

homes, particularly in the Old City, Huangpu is also where one can find the Bund, Yu Gardens and People’s Square.

Mostly catering to locals, there is a lack of international-style accommodation in this area. For those on tight budgets,

 

however, Huangpu can offer extremely affordable housing as well as the experience of seeing local lifestyles first hand.

 

 Hongkou

Shanghai’s second major artery, the Suzhou Creek, cuts across north of the Bund headed west. Until recently, this area has been overlooked by expats. Within the past few years, however, there has been a resurgence of development in Hongkou,
including the building of a new cruise terminal, large parks and the restoration of large warehouses into major art galleries. Property developers are also investing heavily in restoring abandoned buildings to their former glory. The neighborhood is still tucked away from most international amenities and transportation, but it does offer a unique location. Prices, although rising steadily, are still affordable given the size of apartments in the area.

 
People's Square

As the name suggests, People’s Square is the heart of the city. It is home to a slew of museums, historical sites, public

gardens, restaurants and bars. This also means that it is heavy with tourists and locals alike, as well as constant traffic.

Low-rise lane houses in this area tend to be expensive, particularly those recently renovated. More modern buildings are

rare, meaning that there is a limited amount of expat options.

 

 Zhabei

 
Known for its overuse of neon lights, Zhabei has earned the nickname Everbright City. It is located north of the Suzhou

Creek, near one of Shanghai’s busiest railway stations. There is little in the way of international dining or entertainment

options. For those on a budget, including students, there are a number of inexpensive apartments in this area. These

have the added benefit of being near major transportation lines, making commuting relatively easy.

 

Further West: Hongqiao, Gubei & Minhang


These three areas are situated further from the downtown neighborhoods, but offer larger spaces, more green area

and unique amenities for those raising families. Many international schools are located in these areas, as well as major 

international retail and shopping stores. In lieu of apartments, most properties are large villas within gated communities.

These villas incorporate all the comforts of home, without ever having to leave the compound. For those that want 

the exclusive expat experience, these are the neighborhoods for you.  As one would expect, this lifestyle does not come

without  a high price tag. Villas, price of living, and schools are all extremely expensive. In addition, a lack of public

transportation makes getting around with a driver quite difficult. For those with even more expendable income, the area

around SheShan Mountain offers large villas on golf course estates. This is an option for those that do not mind the 60

minute drive into downtown Shanghai. 

 

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Neighborhoods in Pudong

 
Lujiazui

 

This is modern Shanghai in all its glory. A financial capital, business hub and home to high-end apartments in the sky,

Lujiazui is where people leave the crowds (and pollution) of Puxi behind.  Apartment complexes offer river and Bund

views, are close to major transportation options, as well as high-end dining, entertainment and shopping amenities.

They are also outfitted with new appliances and facilities since most have been built within the last decade. In addition,

Lujiazui is home to nicer budget properties. For those with children, international schools are a stone’s throw away.

  

 

Jinqiao & Kangqiao

 

Much like the western neighborhoods in Puxi, Jinqiao & Kangqiao offer residents the quintessential expatriate experience.

From large gated complexes and villas, to green streets and international schools, these neighborhoods are also home to

some of the city’s largest multinational corporations. This allows for convenient commuting from home. The newest

Jinqiao development, Green City, is a one-stop-shop for all things western.

 

 

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