By Adrienne Farrelly
Shanghai is a huge metropolis and figuring out where to live, work and play can be a daunting task for new expats. Here's a breakdown of the various areas and ins and outs of each.
Pudong, the vast district lying on the East side of Huangpu River, is now China’s biggest commercial and financial hub.
• Thriving commercial area with hotels, shopping malls, entertainment and dining
• Shopping: Super Brand Mall and IFC
• Many luxury apartment compounds with family friendly facilities
Apartments: Tomson Riviera, Fortune Garden, IFC Service Apartments, Fraser Suites, Ocean One, Shimao Riviera, Skyline, Yanlord Gardens, Summit Residences
• Many local apartment blocks surrounding large park
• A few apartment compounds suited to expatriates
• Shopping mall and dining at Thumb Plaza
Apartments: Yanlord Town, Pudong Century Garden, Xiang Mie Garden
International schools: Yew Chung International School (years 5-13)
• Largest number of villa compounds to choose from, many high end with higher prices.
Apartments: Green Court, Shimao Lakeside, Dawn Garden
Villas: Seasons Villas, Green Villas, Vizcaya, Regency Park, The Greenhills, Willowbrook, Eastern Villas, Shimao Lakeside Duplex/Triplex
International schools: Dulwich College, Concordia International School, Yew Chung International School (years K2-4)
• 20 minutes south of Century Park
• Decent shopping malls and dining options
• A few villa compounds to choose from however more local villa compounds in the area
Villas: The Emerald, Belle Wood Villas, Tiziano Villas
International schools: Shanghai Community International School (2 campuses), The British International School of Shanghai
• 20 minutes east of Jinqiao
• A few compounds and shopping
Villas: Tomson Golf Course Villas, Buckingham Villas, San Marino Bridge Villas,
International schools: SMIC Private School, German School, French School
• The area of Pudong furthest east
International Schools: Shanghai American School, but is deemed quite remote to live in so most students commute
Villas: Shanghai Links
Puxi is the older and original section of Shanghai where the famous historic Bund lines the Huangpu River. It’s districts vary enormously in their history and environment.
Districts of Puxi
• Good variety of cafes, bars, restaurants and shopping
• Charming historic old Shanghai areas
• Convenient metro stations
• Cons: Expensive housing and lifestyle, touristy, and crowded
Apartments: Times Square, Lakeville Phase One, Lakeville Regency, Casa Lakeville, Richgate, The Ascott, Fraser Suites, Central Park, Baccarat
• Good variety of cafes, bars, restaurants and attractive cultural sights
• Convenient metro stations
• Cheaper housing
• Cons: The most populated area of downtown - busy and noisy
Apartments: Crystal Pavillion, The Shanghai Centre, Ladoll Apartments, City Castle, New Territories, Eight Park, One Park, City Apartments, Top of the City, Jing An 8,
International Schools: With access to several public transportation links and highways, living in Jing’an provides easy access to several international schools both on the Pudong and Puxi sides.
The Former French Concession
• Quiet, leafy green streets
• Mainly low rise housing with residential towers scattered throughout
• Cons: Expensive rentals with little lower budget housing, no large supermarkets
Apartments: Ambassy Court, Palace Court, The Summit, Central Residences Phase 1 & 2, Wellington Garden, Belgravia Place, Chevalier Place, 41 Heng Shan Rd, Regal East Asia Apts, Kingsville, Chateau Pinnacle, Shama Huashan, Gao An Court
Townhouses: Tomson Xing Guo Townhouses
International Schools: Wunan Kindergarden, Sunrise Kindergarden, Shanghai Garden Tiny Tots, Little Eton, and Fonshin International Kindergarten. Closest to the grade schools in the Hong Qiao areas with Minghang schools further afield.
Hong Qiao (Gubei)
• Expatriate focused shops and services
• A little fresher air, more green and less noise.
• Cons: Longer travel distances to commercial areas
Apartments: City Condo, De Oriental London, Le Maison, Windsor Court Service Apartments, Yanlord Riverside Gardens, Huntington Terrace, Oasis Riviera, Fairlake, Shanghai American Homes.
Villas: Windsor Place, Windsor Park, Xi Jiao Guest House, Jasmin Garden, Green Valley, Ridgewood, Cedar Villas, Vernal Garden, Westwood Villas, Regents Park, Parkson, Sunland, Dynasty, China Garden Townhouses, Si Fang Xi Jiao, Le Chateau,
International Schools: Shanghai Community International School (2 campuses), Yew Chung International School (2 campuses), Livingston American School, and Rainbow Bridge International School.
• Small village community
• Little traffic or urban noise
• Surrounded by industrial area
• Cons: Lack of choice in entertainment, bars and restaurants.
Apartments: Shanghai Racquet Club Apartments
Villas: Forest Manor, Rancho Santa Fe, Stratford Villas, Risen Villas, Lakefront Villas, Westwood Green Villas, Contemporary Spirits, Villa Riviera.
International Schools: Shanghai American School, Shanghai Singaporean International School, Shanghai Rego International School, Shanghai Japanese School.
• Massive Eurocampus nearby
• Quite a way out from downtown Shanghai and cheaper rents because of it.
• Fairly large expat community.
Villas: Violet Town, Lido, Modern Villa, Garden Inside, Xi Jiao Cheng, Lakeside, Long Beach Garden
International Schools: Eurocampus (German, French)
Types of Housing:
There are two types of property compounds in Shanghai
Luxury housing - developer built/owned, built of high quality materials, decorated with quality fit-outs and attractive decor and furnishings, premium rentals range from RMB25000 to RMB100000
Local housing - built for the masses and not as high quality and simpler in style, units are partly or wholly sold off to individuals and either decorated by the developer or fitted out by the owner according to his/her individual taste and budget
Managing your Negotiations
Basic points to cover before signing a lease
Landlord/Developer – Is the property owned by a developer or private landlord? Ask who will attend to management and maintenance. If it is owned by an individual overseas allow for possible delays in negotiations, payments and services.
Payment - If the rent agreed upon is in USD and paid in RMB, then base it on a fixed exchange rate (usually the Bank of China) and agree on a fixed total RMB amount.
Rent & security deposit – In general, one month’s rent and two month’s refundable security deposit are paid once the contract has been signed. Leasing contracts are a relatively new in modern China and the legal system is still evolving, so the payment of money secures the property.
Management - Understand who is responsible for what as well as response times and what to do if emergency repairs are needed. Get signed reports that all the property’s appliances have been cleaned, checked and repaired.
Management fee - Property compounds employ a company for maintenance and management services. A monthly management fee is charged for these services paid by the landlord.
Official receipt - If your company needs an official receipt (fappiao), ensure this is included in the offer. Some landlords try to avoid paying tax and prefer tenants who don’t need an official receipt. Most companies will need one if they are paying housing but if you’re paying by yourself then you won’t.
Sports club card - Ensure membership is provided to the sports club and find out what is free and charged.
Utilities – Find out what are the approx monthly utility bills such as electricity, gas and water. Are utilities metered as user pays and is there a service fee attached to it? Who covers installation and payment of IDD and ADSL lines and how long they will take to install? What TV channels are available and who pays the satellite TV fees.
Taxes - The landlord is responsible for any business tax and property tax.
Insurance -The landlord is responsible for the premises and provisions and the tenant insure their own belongings.
Legal ownership -Ensure the landlord is the legal owner of the leased property and has all the necessary papers to prove it.
Sale of property - Ensure that your lease remains valid if the property is sold.
Renovations - If the property needs renovations, ensure they are listed and added to the contract to ensure they are done by the time you move in. Instruct your agent to write a time frame of all renovations and follow up on its progress with updates. Visit the property a few times to check on quality etc. (don’t worry if it looks like a ‘war zone’) If you are concerned about delays, add a clause that rent won’t be charged and/or alternative accommodation will be provided if renovations aren’t completed on time.
Expiration of contract - On expiration of the contract, after all bills and/or damages are paid, the deposit should be refunded in its original currency within one week.
Attachments - Ensure that any attachments are referred to in the contract, are an inseparable part of it and are equally enforceable.
Disputes - It is recommended that you negotiate to resolve any disputes that arise and get your agent involved as early as possible. There is not a highly developed legal system for disputes in China.
Language - Contracts are written in both Chinese and English languages with the Chinese version having the legal power in the event of disputes.
Lowering your rent - Rentals prices are “asking prices.” Final rentals are influenced by a number of criteria. A prospective tenant can get lower rentals if they follow some of the advice below:
-Pay rent on a quarterly basis
-Don’t request extra items
-Don’t ask to remove items
-Sign a longer lease term than requested i.e. two years fixed
-Take the property unfurnished (if not furnished)
-Commence the lease term as soon as possible
- Sign the lease and pay the rent as soon as possible
-Don’t get an official tax receipt (fappiao) unless necessary
// Adrienne Farrelly is one of Shanghai’s most experienced Expatriate Property Agents having started in the industry in 1993 and has helped countless expatriates and their families find the right home in Shanghai. She founded Shanghai Properties in 2000 and has built a reputation based on honest, helpful assistance for those moving to Shanghai. www.adriennefarrelly.tumblr.com, www.shanghaiprops.com, www.shanghaipropertiesadvisoryservice.tumblr.com