Shanghai, China Report of what it's like to live there - 04/05/17

Personal Experiences from Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China 04/05/17


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

No. I have traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Close to 2 years.

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3. 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?

Government-assigned housing at luxury apartment in downtown Shanghai. State Department employees reside in high quality housing.

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

Everything is available in Shanghai, but at higher cost.

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

Sherpas and Nosh deliveries are convenient. Delivery fees are low.

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Daily Life:

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

Housekeepers and nannies are inexpensive and readily available.

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

International credit cards and ATM cards are accepted almost everywhere in downtown Shanghai.

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

Yes. Taxis are inexpensive, though it has become harder to flag one down due to the abundance of cab-calling services such as "Di-di". Even without Chinese, buses and metros are easily accessible. The Shanghai buses stops at every stop so one could count the number of stops to reach the destination.

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Phone & Internet:

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

It is easy to obtain a local phone number. Do not sign up for discounted call or data plans as the cancellation process is difficult.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

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

Dress code is business to business casual within the consulate, depending on one's section. In public places, one could see a wide array of dressing choices ranging from pajamas, micro-skirts, sweatpants, to high-end street fashion.

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Health & Safety:

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

Pollution and food safety are two major concerns. Expats seek medical care at private hospitals and clinics with international standards.

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2. 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?

Poor air quality. Seasonal allergies. Many locals and long-term expats experience respiratory problems.

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

Bring plenty of face masks and allergy medications.

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Schools & Children:

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

Though we do not have children of school age living in Shanghai, I get the impression that international schools are of high quality because many officers with school age children extend their assignment to allow their children finish school here.

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Expat Life:

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

Meeting good colleagues at the consulate. Weekend getaways to neighboring countries: Japan, Malaysia, Thailand.

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2. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

There are many direct fights out of Shanghai. Shanghainese people do not bother strangers and the city feels very secure.

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Words of Wisdom:

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

Despite the constant poor air quality and occasional discomforts from cultural differences (not queuing, loud shouting, shoving, littering, etc.). I would still move to this city

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


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3. But don't forget your:

Allergy medication.

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