Moving/Relocating to Shanghai: 7 Critical Things To Note Before You Pack Your Bags

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If you are looking for a fast-paced lifestyle where finance, fashion, tech, and commerce merge into one amazing global city, then life in Shanghai is for you. For many people, moving to Shanghai would be a dream adventure. However, being the most developed city in China and one of the most populated cities in the world, living in Shanghai could pose a few challenges.

To help you make the best decision, we’ve compiled these seven critical things to note when moving, such as the cost of living in Shanghai, transportation, and where to stay. Moving is a big decision, so always weigh the pros and cons and see if this big change is what you’ve been waiting for.

1. The Pros And Cons When Moving to Shanghai

Everywhere you go, there’s always a healthy mix of pros and cons. For Shanghai, here are the top things you need to consider that might tip the scales.


Ease Of Living

Shanghai is a global city. That means it’s alive with almost any type of convenience you can imagine. Living in Shanghai offers comforts that might not be available in less developed cities. The city is home to hundreds of shops, delivery services, and multiple forms of transportation available ’round the clock.

It is also worth noting that for a major city, Shanghai has a very low crime rate and is considered one of the safest cities in China.

Transportation Is Top Tier

Shanghai’s public transport is extensive and one of the most developed and well maintained in China. With a network of buses, a Maglev Train, the Shanghai metro, taxis, and even shared bikes and a ferry, getting around the city is fairly easy. This is important for a city as large as Shanghai, which is home to roughly 28 million people.

There Are Endless Things To Do

Living in Shanghai gives you access to various events and leisure activities that are never likely to run out. Whether your taste is for high-end restaurants or cheaper street food, Shanghai offers dozens of choices. Go atop skyscrapers such as Shanghai Tower or Oriental Pearl TV Tower, and see the skylines from all angles. You can also get a little history lesson from the Shanghai Museum, or let your inner kid have some magical fun at the Shanghai Disneyland!


Rush Hour

A common problem for most metropolises, but more so for one of the most populous cities in the world, Shanghai has its fair share of traffic problems. The numerous metro lines and public buses can get crowded during the early morning and evening rush hour. Still, the excellent transportation system does make up for it.


Despite being a global city with a large part of the population being able to speak English, it is always beneficial to learn the local language. Even if it’s just a few helpful day-to-day phrases. Being prepared with simple and common phrases will help your stay in Shanghai immensely.

Weather Woes

The weather in Shanghai can get extreme on both ends. Summer brings very high temperatures and high humidity, while winters can be freezing, extremely dry and sometimes even a big concern for most people.

It is best to stay indoors when the weather acts up. However, there’s no need to worry too much as public transportation and public places such as malls and shops can offer a safe space if you need to hide from the elements.

yellow SUV beside building

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2. The Shanghai Job Market

Moving to Shanghai will probably mean you need to find yourself a job in Shanghai as well. But there’s no need to worry. Shanghai has a thriving job market. This city is one of the largest and most significant financial centres in China and the world.

Over the last few decades, Shanghai has been consistent in its goal towards major industrial development, especially in the tech and industrial manufacturing sectors. The city is often a destination for foreign companies wanting to make investments and foreigners looking for work in China. In fact, this global city is regarded as the best city in China for expats.

Studies have shown that in 2022, the median monthly income in Shanghai is around 26,00 CNY a month. More specialised workers in the IT industry or the finance and banking sector can net higher salaries depending on their expertise.

When looking for a job in Shanghai, be sure that you find the best positions that fit your skill set and offer the best salary. The job market is healthy, so you’ll need to put in some extra time to find the best one for you.

3. Best Places To Stay And Call Home

You can find Shanghai on China’s Yangtze Estuary, a seaport; much of its geography has shaped how the city was designed.

A lot of Shanghai has been made through reclaimed land, laying the foundation for its many skyscrapers that define the city skyline. Like most highly urbanised cities, renting is more common and affordable, especially for young professionals. Still, there are dozens of locations to choose from depending on the type of lifestyle you want to lead day-to-day.

If you want to live as close to the centre as possible, with giant shopping malls as your neighbours, consider living your Shanghai life in Xujiahui, Zhongshan Park, Suzhou Creek, or right within the iconic Shanghai skyline in Pudong.

Another popular choice for expats is the Former French Concession (FFC). With its fascinating mix of beautiful architecture and colourful history, the FFC has its own brand of culture that make it a great place to plant roots and live your life in Shanghai. Like the FFC, Jing’an is an equally beautiful place to stay, offering the same western architecture and feel at a less than premium price.

people walking on sidewalk near buildings during daytime

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4. Lifestyle In Shanghai

Certified Shopping Center

Living in Shanghai can be as fast or slow as you want it to be. As a centre of finance and commerce, Shanghai has world-class shopping malls with impressive arrays of international designers and brands that would excite anyone. At the same time, independent boutiques and smaller-scale shops are also aplenty.

Shanghai Nightlife

As a city destination for young professionals, it’s no wonder Shanghai would have a thriving nightlife. Living in Shanghai, especially if you’re staying within the city centre, puts you close to clubs, pubs, music festivals, western bars, and a party circuit that rivals any other city.

However, if you prefer your quality time to be on the slow side, you can join walk tours and enjoy the local culture of Shanghai. With lots of parks, historic streets, and must-see destinations, walking around Shanghai is a perfect way to spend an afternoon.

In fact, many recommended walk-through routes are available that go through such places as the Bund and the Former French Concession. As you wander around Shanghai Old Street, take a photo with historic shikumen houses, or discover hidden secrets in Nanjing Road and find traditional stores.

A Food Paradise

The food in Shanghai is excellent, .and the choices are endless. As a destination city, it’s no surprise that Shanghai has become a melting pot for food. The world-famous Michelin star guide has identified more than 40 local and international restaurants in Shanghai worthy of receiving their coveted Star!

In fact, recently, it celebrated the release of a new restaurant by receiving three stars. A certified food paradise, you don’t need to pay top bucks to enjoy delicacies. Restaurants with reasonable prices and even cheaper yet delicious street food can be found all over Shanghai. Many expats will find themselves treating their taste buds!

person crossing on pedestrian during daytime

Image Credit: Unsplash

5. Travelling Around The City Is Easy

We’ve mentioned that transportation in Shanghai is top tier, but it bears repeating. Transportation in Shanghai is probably second to none in China. It considers the comfort and ease of every citizen. There are Big Bus Tours that show you around city landmarks. The Shanghai MagLev train, the fastest commercial electric train in the world, helps commuters beat traffic.

To get around town, 12 subway lines service 14 municipal districts and 10 million people daily. For the more personal trips, taxis, public buses, and a great bike-sharing system are there to take you where you need to go. Also, be sure to get a Shanghai Jiaotong Card, which makes it much easier to pay for any of these public transport services.

6. What’s It Going To Cost To Live in Shanghai

The cost of living in Shanghai can get a bit high, but if you’re smart about it, there are plenty of areas where you can save.

It is estimated that for a single person, life in Shanghai can cost 4,790.63 ¥ (709 USD) a month, while a four-person family would need about 17,686.47 ¥ (2,618 USD). These do not include rent, and that is very subjective to which part of the city you would live in.

The biggest secret to saving a few bucks when living in a new place is always to try and be local. Food tends to be cheaper when you know where to find them, so explore your local area. Try a few different restaurants and delivery services, and find which ones you like best that are friendly to your budget.

Other important monthly costs you also need to budget for are medical insurance, transportation allowance, and the occasional night out to treat yourself.

7. Best Schools To Study In Shanghai

If you plan on having a family, or if you want to go to school and get a higher degree, Shanghai has great educational facilities.

As a major city and a tech hub for China, many expats will send their children to international schools that are becoming more advanced in their curriculum and tech-centric. Suppose you’d like to study yourself, expand your knowledge, and learn new skills. In that case, there are excellent Universities that rank competitively in the country, such as Shanghai Jiaotong University, Fudan University, and East China Normal University.

If you want a more diverse student body, international Universities such as Sino-British College and New York University (NYU) have campuses in Shanghai.

Conclusion On Moving To Shanghai

Shanghai is a highly developed metropolis that has so much to offer to anyone. With a competitive job market, an engaging lifestyle, and world-class public services, the only thing missing is your call to Sanelo to help you plan your relocation.

Sanelo makes it easier for you to to make the move anywhere as hassle and stress-free as possible. If you’re still thinking about your move to Shanghai or are curious about other areas to move to, check out these articles on Shanghai, China, and Hong Kong.

Frequently Asked Questions About Moving To Shanghai

What Is Shanghai Known For?

Shanghai is a global city and one of the most developed and populous in China. It is a centre for business and commerce that attracts people and businesses from all over the world. The world-famous Lujiazui skyline prominently features three super skyscrapers – Shanghai Jinmao Tower, Shanghai World Financial Center, and Shanghai Tower – which symbolise the development and progress of the region.

What Language Is Spoken In Shanghai?

The official language of Shanghai is standard Mandarin Chinese, as with many Chinese cities, but the local language of the Shanghai region is Shanghainese, a totally different language. Being a global city, you will find a lot of establishments with English-speaking staff. But, getting mandarin lessons would also be a great idea.

Is It A Good Idea To Relocate To Shanghai?

Shanghai is a great city with lots of opportunities. It offers a mix of old culture and modern attractions that are sure to make your stay pleasant and memorable.

In the first few weeks, living in Shanghai might cause a bit of a culture shock, but it is a big city where you will meet a lot of fellow expats. You can join expat events, find restaurants that offer food that remind you of your home country and maintain a positive attitude. To make the transition extra easy, get in touch with Sanelo to relocate internationally with ease.

How Much Do I Need To Make To Live Comfortably In Shanghai?

The cost of living in Shanghai can be a bit high as a person living alone would need around 4,791 ¥ (709 USD) before rent. Still, the job market in Shanghai offers many great opportunities. If you are smart with how you spend and save your money, there’s no question why you wouldn’t live a comfortable life here!


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