Shanghai, China Report of what it's like to live there - 10/11/16

Personal Experiences from Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China 10/11/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Paris, Florence.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

USA about 10 to 14 hours to various spots on the west coast.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Adequate and with a super-short commute.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Super cheap on the local market. Don't expect organic or clean food. Super expensive for imports and produce labeled organic.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Any specialty foods (gluten free, soy free, whatever free). Yogurt starter and a yogurt maker.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

All...anything can be delivered, even groceries, which is great. Sherpas is popular but you will probably find your own places.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

No.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Lots...just need to interview and get them cleared.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Expect western prices and not always western service/cleanliness.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You need a local card....but most of the economy is cash including delivery services.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Tons of classes available to learn the language and they are affordable. One can get by without Mandarin, though. Just know a few basic useful phrases.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. Super cheap. Taxi drivers can drive like madmen and don't expect seat belts. Metro/subway is cheap and easy to navigate.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Don't know. Get a scooter...

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

If working for the US government, expect problems.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Don't bring your expensive phone. Local phones and plans are plentiful.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

At the consulate, as teachers or in finance.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Surveillance.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Lots of air ground and water pollution. Each person responds differently. Many people have stomach and respiratory issues. Folks are tested for TB upon departure.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Sucks.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Bring all your food (or find a shipper). Local doctors don't believe in allergies.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Local environment frustration blues.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Humid...quasi-DC weather...doesn't really get cold in winter...one can still wear linen.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large. Morale varies. Some love it...some hate it. Climate is getting worse for western business expats. Apply that how you will to government expats.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Many clubs and groups.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Lots of dating opportunities for single men.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not that I am aware of.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Leaving.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Better to live in Hong Kong and not on the mainland.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Manners.

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4. But don't forget your:

Money.

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