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A summary of Shanghai's downtown expat neighborhoods




Luwan is located east of XuHui and comprises some popular Shanghai destinations such as Fuxing Park and XinTianDi. Luwan itself is comprised of old historical areas, modern high-rise areas, industrial areas and commercial areas, so it is somewhat difficult to describe the area in general. The clients we move to Luwan tend to be a broad mix of singles and couples from varying nationalities. Like most downtown areas, expats with school children tend not to move here. Monthly rentals for service apartments range from $1500 to $10,000. Private apartments tend to range from $800 to $4000 and restored old properties from $800 to $8000. There are many bargains to be found in Luwan, specifically near the highways and in the southern most section of Luwan.
In general, Luwan's streets are among the busiest in Shanghai. This includes Huai Hai Zhong Lu. It's definitely wise to make use of the subway system if you live in LuWan. The East-West and North-South elevated highways intersect this area, thus noise and pollution can be annoyances.
Fuxing park is one of Shanghai's prettiest locations, and housing around here can be charming, however expensive. XinTianDi - Shanghai's newish entertainemnt area housed in Shikumen styled buildings, attracts resident and tourist foreigners to the wonderful restaurants, movie theatres and beautiful architecture. New buildings in this area command an extremely high rental premium.
The expats we moved to Luwan tended to be people who wanted to be walking distance from their offices, or else would prefer to use the subway system for their commuting.
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HuangPu is located immediatly west of the river, directly opposite Pudong's LuJiaZui. The area of HuangPu boasts many of the city's most famous landmarks including the Shanghai Grand Theatre, Shanghai Museum, the Nanjing pedestrian walkway and the world famous Bund (pictured below).

For housing in HuangPu, your best bet is the People's Square area with several serviced apartments and private apartments available. Since much of HuangPu is tourist or business oriented, residential options are somewhat limited. As a rule, most expats tend to NOT want to live near the tourist destinations, as these are prime areas where Chinese street vendors target foreigners with taunting salesmanship of CD's, DVD's and other inexpensive items. If you must live with a beautiful view of the bund, there are some options available on the North side of HuangPu. Housing in HuangPu ranges form serviced apartments from $2000 to $10,000 and private apartments from $800 to $5000.
The expats we moved to HuangPu tended to be singles and couples who worked in the downtown areas and enjoyed easy commutes to the cultural aspects of the city. For some people the People's Square area is an ideal choice to set up a first apartment as it is the intersecting point for both subway systems, providing easy access to just about anywhere in Shanghai. This enables some flexibility for a job searching expat who arrives looking for employment.
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JingAn (also called Jian An)
Jingan is widely considered the central business district of Shanghai. Several of the city's biggest office towers, such as Plaza 66 and Shanghai Center, are located along this district's main street - Nanjing Road (lu). As is evident in the attached map, Nanjing Lu connects Jingan to Luwan in the East and Changning in the West. Jingan offers some of the city's best serviced apartments, many with breathtaking night time views. Serviced apartments in this area tend to run from $2,500 to $9,000 USD per month. There are some privately owned apartments in JingAn, Most of the recently constructed ones rent out in the $1000 to $4000 range. There are some colonial properties hidden amidst the skyscrapers, however its generally felt that their long term existence will be threatened with the new skyscrapers. Bargain hunters may be able to find suitable housing in JingAn, however it is typically easier in other downtown areas.


Many of the cities best restaurants and bars are located in the JingAn area. Definitely the most popular lunch hotspots are located here, aiming to take advantage of the throngs of working people.

Other then high floor apartments, JingAn is a relatively noisy area with pollution levels somewhat near what you might expect from a city of this size. The JingAn park offers some relief, however it's one of Shanghai's smaller parks and has been commercialized somewhat in recent years.

Living in Jingan is especially great if you're willing to use the subway to get around. Traffic congestion in JingAn can get backed up at times, and at peak hours (or when it rains) getting a taxi can be slighlty cumbersome.
Overall, JingAn tends to attract single expat business people of all ages and young couples without families. Most of our expat clients living in this area tend to work downtown or in HongQiao.
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Tree-lined streets and exquisite architecture typify most of the XuHui area. While these neighbourhoods have always attracted tenants to the restored old properties, many of the areas high rise and low-rise apartment complexes offer the same charm, with slightly less hassle and often less rent money. XuHui has traditionally been considered a luxurious high end residential area, easy evidence of that can be seen on Xing Guo Lu, Heng Shen Lu and Huai Hai Lu. Serviced apartments in XuHui typically start at around $2000 and go upwards to $11,000. Recently built private apartments range from $1000 to $5000. High quality old renovated properties range from small apartments from $800 to mansions with enormous gardens, costing upwards of $20,000 per month. There are some bargains to be found in XuHui, however they tend to go quickly.
photo courtesy of Jian Shuo Wang

XuJiaHui, located in XuHui, is one of Shanghai's busiest shopping areas. It boasts enormous multi leveled shopping centers with expansive food courts, big screen movie theatres, arcades and just about every brand of clothing or product you can imagine.

Some of Shanghai's best - and most expensive - bars and restaurants are also located in XuHui. Heng Shen Lu is perhaps one of the most popular areas in the entire city. Many embassies and consulates are located in XuHui, the armed guards standing outside each embassy can be a shock to visitors at first.

Since much of XuHui has less high-rise buldings then other downtown areas, the traffic congestion in those areas tends to be slighlty lighter. With less traffic comes less noise, and slightly better air quality. Generally the key is to find housing slighlty away from the major roads, or else aim to live high up in an apartment building.
Much of the former French Concession is situated in XuHui.
Overall, XuHui tends to attract expats of all ages and nationalities, however most do not have school-aged children. Most of our expat clients living in this area tend to work downtown or in HongQiao.
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