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Rental properties in Shanghai's best areas

Shanghai is one of the biggest cities in the world and a huge variety of neighborhoods. Even the central downtown parts offer so much diversity, chances are high, there is a good match for your requirements and preferences. Typically, expats in Shanghai flock to the vibrant streets of Jing’an or the charming alleys of the former French Concession. Xintiandi, if within the budget, is also a great choice without a doubt. Families in need of good education for their children opt for the international school areas in the suburbs of Pudong and Puxi, while the skyscrapers of Lujiazui is a great pick if you are working in the financial district.

Searching your new home in Shanghai

In order to start searching, you first need to clarify what it is that you want. Important criteria for many expats are location and furnishing & equipment. For some, location means a short commute to work, for others it’s living within walking distance to international nightlife. Tastes for furnishing vary as much as their are different nationalities in Shanghai. Budget is a restraining factor for most of us, and it will help in your search to establish a budget for your monthly rent early on. For taxation reasons, most companies offer dedicated housing allowances. However, calculating a reasonable budget is based on your income, current taxation law, and the Shanghai housing market. We don’t know your salary and financial situation, we are amateurs when it comes to tax laws, but we are experts in Shanghai real estate. So, to get you started, we have prepared a comprehensive housing market report, and a tool that helps you identifying your housing needs and generates a bilingual pdf sheet that you can pass to your agent.

Which are the best areas for expats in Shanghai?

While there is not one area that is suitable for all expats, their different backgrounds and needs, over the years certain expat neighborhoods did crystallize.

  • If you like downtown life, have work in downtown Shanghai or don't mind commuting a bit longer, this areas are the most popular among Shanghai expats due to good housing, surrounding facilities and access to public transportation: the Former French Concession (Old Xuhui), Xintiandi, and the streets around Jing'an Temple.
  • If you relocate with your family including children, you are probably looking for a less noisy and greener environment, and even more importantly, you'll need to be close to an international school. These schools and many expat families can be found in these areas: Green City and Kangqiao (both in Pudong), Gubei, East Xujing and Huacao Town (all in Puxi). Among these, Gubei is the closest to downtown and offers the highest degree of convenience.

If you want to find out more about the different parts of Shanghai don't miss our 2020 Shanghai Neighborhood Guide.

Which housing types are available in Shanghai?

Like almost every modern city, you can find apartments and condos,  multi-family houses, and villas. All these are also available with services such as housekeeping and concierge. 

What becomes quite apparent - already before setting foot in Shanghai, while preparing for landing, is that almost all residential homes are arranged in clusters of visually very similar buildings. Modern apartments are typically found in so called compounds: clusters of apartment towers with shared facilities such as swimming pools, gyms, and playgrounds.

Unique to Shanghai are so called lane houses - 2- to 4-storey terraced housing from the 1920s and 30s arranged in clusters. Usually, they are laid out a bit narrow, but come with high ceilings, similar to the period architecture you can find in many European cities. Some of these lane houses have interesting stories to tell, related to their former residents. Renovated and modernized lane houses are among the most sought-after rental homes in Shanghai.

Lastly you'll find 6-storey concrete run-up blocks from the 1980s. Don't be fooled by their exterior with communist, sovietesque charme. Some of these blocks hide absolute gems of apartments inside.

What's the price level for rentals in Shanghai like?

It's clear that the central downtown areas of Shanghai are pricier than the suburbs. Xintiandi, the streets closest to Jing'an Temple are the most expensive areas, followed by the former French Concession and West Nanjing Road, recently joined by the Suhe Creek development in New Jing'an (former Jing'an). For a nice, furnished 2br apartment, expect to pay 14,000 RMB per month, or more.

Moderately priced areas in downtown Shanghai are Zhongshan Park and most parts of  Huangpu District. With a bit of luck you can find a well furnished 2br apartment for around 9,000 RMB per month.

If you are looking for a more spacious property for you and your  family members, for instance townhouse or villa, you can find these priced between 30,000 and 70,000 RMB in the typical expat areas.

Which are the best apartment compounds in Shanghai?

Based on our own impressions and insights into the different projects, combined with the feedback of our past clients, these are the best apartment compounds in Shanghai: Ambassy Court, Casa Lakeville, Eight Park Avenue, Joffre Garden, Kingsville, La Cite, Oriental Manhattan, The Paragon, Shimao Riviera, and Sinan Mansions. More details here.

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