Looking for Fairways, Freeways and Cafe's
January 17, 2007 4:28 AM   Subscribe

I'm starting research into a possible relocation to Shanghai and am looking for good resources into general accomodation and cost of living information.

In particular, I'm looking for solid and broad coverage websites for rental housing. Google is throwing up way too many options. I'd expect to receive relocation support, but I'm hoping local knowledge could point me to a couple of good starting points.

I'm a mid- to high-level manager with a very large corporation and have lived abroad from my home country for over a decade. I am looking to understand what the likely quality of life could be, in particular around recreation (golf is a bit of a passion for me), commuting options to major business areas and airports.
posted by michswiss to Work & Money (7 answers total)
Space is a reasonable real estate broker catering towards expats. If you were to find equivalent places on your own, they would be roughly 10-30% cheaper.

There is at least one driving range downtown, and maybe two. I know there are golf courses outside of downtown. the only one of specifically aware of is called the shanghai golf and country club, or something similar.
posted by nazca at 6:13 AM on January 17, 2007

I just moved to Shanghai in March with my then-boyfriend (now husband). His company paid for a relocation service, but we found that they weren't that helpful. The relocation company really pushed certain places, whether we liked them or not, since they presumably (?) had some sort of commission deal with them. In the end, we got something we liked, but we had to fight for it a bit, and we got ripped off on price.

If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me - my webpage is in my profile and you can get my email address there.
posted by piers at 8:21 AM on January 17, 2007

Don't ask here, ask at Shanghaiexpat.com. Best forum for expats in all of China.
posted by msittig at 8:47 AM on January 17, 2007

I'm a Shanghai resident myself.

You're not likely to find any "solid and broad" websites, unfortunately. The market's quite fractured. Any decent agent will point you to the areas that would be a good fit for you.

As for location, there are typically three styles for high-level managers: villa in PuDong (across the river, East from downtown), villa in GuBei (West from downtown), or downtown apartment. I've also known a few who risk the old house in downtown Shanghai, but it's unusual.

For golf, you'd probably want to be in PuDong, where there are a couple courses. Slim pickings compared to a western country. The Tomson Golfcourse resort has villas right next to the course, in fact.

You don't mention children, but PuDong is popular for families, as the best schools are over there, as well. Gubei has a few, and downtown is ill advised if you have schoolage children -- the commute would be too difficult.

The major business areas are either downtown, or in Lujiazui, which is on the east side of the main river in Pudong. Commuting between Lujiazui and the outer villas isn't difficult. Crossing the river can be a real pain.

There are two major airports, Pudong in Pudong, and Hongqiao near Gubei. Pudong is the international airport, and has flights most everyplace. Cheaper domestic flights go through Hongqiao.

A PuDong villa is pretty standard for expat managers, especially those with families. If you're particularly cosmopolitan, I'd recommend living downtown. [Full disclosure: my company rents out downtown apartments]

I know a few agents personally, so if you have any difficulty getting one through your company, let me know and I could help.
posted by FuManchu at 9:04 AM on January 17, 2007

Wang Jian Shuo has a good blog about life in Shanghai. He also posts good articles to help out the expat. But the most important bit is getting a real vibe of the city from his blog.
posted by reformedjerk at 9:05 AM on January 17, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the hints so far. Just to clarify, I don't have any children and am a middle-aged SF.
posted by michswiss at 12:10 PM on January 17, 2007

I was poised to move to Shanghai (as an executive for a US company) and felt the downtown was ultimately the way to go.

We had a realtor show us around and they were initially very biased toward "expat" locations, even though we said we didn't want that. GuBei is where everyone who is from the West lives and you practically will forget you live in China when you are there. I say, if your going to live in China, you should live in China (or as close in it as you can and still enjoy yourself).

We ended up finding something we really liked near the French Concession. Up side is that it was relatively close to the train and very close to lots of restaurants and shopping. Downside was that it was pricey and no parking. That wasn't such an issue, as we would have had a driver who kept the car.

Most every place we were shown was your typical executive service apartment. Lots of amenities, but all marble and glass - if you know what I mean. Cost ranged from around $2500 a month for "just livable" to $4000 for something close to what we considered comfortable (not opulent).

Quality of life is pretty much expensive apartment, cars and clothes (at the malls) and cheaper than cheap food and services. You can get a driver for not a lot and everyone can afford a maid.

The biggest issue you will have is getting out of the city or across the river if work isn't close by. This can be such a hassle as not to be worth living on the wrong side of town.

Most of the city is really walkable and getting around is never a problem. Food is fantastic and runs the gamut from TGIF (why, I'll never know) to high end bistro and fantastic Chinese food (which they just called "food"). There is a wonderful Jean Georges in the Bund and I highly recommend some Hot Pot at a local hole-in-the-wall.

I really recommend that you get your company to send you over explicitly to get a realtor and get a feel for the place. Location and the "real" experience of a place is impossible to know from pictures. 90% of all the places we liked the photo of on a website were atrocious or located in a really bad place. The ones we ended up liking we never would have picked from the picture or based on the price.

Good luck!

Oh, and you should start learning Mandarin if you don't know it already. I was, coincidentally, just re-listening to my lessons on my iPod today. I recommend the Pimsleur Mandarin Chinese CD's.
posted by qwip at 2:07 AM on January 18, 2007

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