• published on 5/23/2024
  • 5min

Best places to live in Shanghai for expats

Discover vibrant communities, family-friendly areas, and the perks of these neighborhoods to find your perfect Shanghai home.

Best places to live in Shanghai for expats

Shanghai, the most populous city in China, is the country’s financial hub and a major center for global trade. This attracts businesses from around the world, and with them comes a significant number of foreign employees, executives, and entrepreneurs.

One of the city's biggest advantages is its low crime rate which provides expats with a sense of security and peace of mind as they settle into a new environment. Getting around the city is also a breeze, thanks to its world-class public transportation system. Plus, all the daily necessities are readily available and often affordable.

Compared to other Chinese cities, Shanghai is generally considered more open and welcoming to foreigners. It has international schools, hospitals with English-speaking staff, and the largest expat community where they can connect and find support. Additionally, the government has been working on simplifying the process of living in Shanghai for foreigners.

Here are five locations that expats can consider if they want to move to Shanghai.


Pudong is the city's financial hub and one of the most modern areas of Shanghai. With its iconic skyline of gleaming skyscrapers like the Shanghai World Financial Center and Oriental Pearl TV Tower, Pudong offers a taste of big city living alongside thriving international communities. The Lujiazui area is at the core of Pudong's financial district and provides convenient access to large corporations and plenty of upscale dining and shopping.

In 2020, Pudong had already attracted over 350 foreign company headquarters to set up operations there, including renowned global brands such as GlaxoSmithKline, and Tesla's first Gigafactory located outside the United States.

Just northwest of Lujiazui, the Jinqiao neighborhood is very popular among expat families for its tree-lined streets, numerous parks, many international schools, and relatively lower housing costs compared to downtown areas. Pudong also boasts several massive expat-oriented shopping malls including the Super Brand Mall.


Centrally located and exceptionally walkable, Jing'an district is a popular choice among expats who want to be in the heart of the action. This lively district offers a mix of historic shikumen lanes dating back to the 1800s, trendy boutiques and art galleries, and an array of dining and nightlife options along pedestrian streets like Nanjing Road. Cultural highlights in Jing'an include the Jade Buddha Temple and Jing'an Sculpture Park.

Jing'an is also conveniently connected to other parts of the city via multiple metro lines, including direct access to Hongqiao and Pudong airports. High-end housing options in Jing'an range from renovated lane houses to modern high-rises.

Former French Concession (FFC)

The Former French Concession exudes an unmistakable Old-World charm with its historic lane houses, European-style cafes, and tree-lined avenues. The three main housing types in FFC are renovated lane houses, garden villas, and colonial apartments in art deco buildings.

One of the advantages of living in the FFC is its central location, which provides easy access to world-class medical facilities. Renowned clinics and hospitals such as Global Health and Shanghai United Family Hospital, staffed by local and Western doctors, are conveniently located nearby. This ensures residents have access to top-quality healthcare.

While the district itself doesn't have international schools, expat families will find that most international schools in Shanghai offer convenient bus services that pick up students directly from the FFC.


For expats seeking more space, greenery, and a slower pace compared to the pulsating energy of central Shanghai, Minhang district in western Shanghai could be the ideal choice. This can be ideal for families seeking a peaceful and less hectic environment to raise children.

This district is known for its sprawling family-friendly amenities, including the Minhang Park and Shanghai Yinqixing Indoor Skifield. Several international schools, like Shanghai Singapore International School (SSIS), are also located in Minhang.

Many expat-populated villa compounds and apartment complexes can be found in neighborhoods like Xinzhuang, offering respite from the hustle and bustle yet still connected to the city via metro lines.


Hongqiao boasts a good selection of international schools like Shanghai Community International School and Yew Chung International School , catering to expat families with school-aged children. This makes settling in and ensuring a smooth education for your kids much easier. Hongqiao also residents have access to various healthcare facilities, including ParkwayHealth Hongqiao Medical Center.

While not in the heart of the city, Hongqiao provides easy access to other areas via public transportation with Metro Line 2 and 10. Plus, the high-speed rail network in the Hongqiao Transportation Hub puts the rest of China within easy reach for business trips or weekend getaways.

For golf enthusiasts, the proximity of the Hongqiao Golf Club offers a serene retreat for relaxation and leisure activities.


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