Best Places to Live in Shanghai - Alternatives to the Usual Spots

Best Places to Live in Shanghai - Alternatives to the Usual Spots
By Andrea Scarlatelli ,

When you’re moving to a foreign country, especially for the first time, it can be a daunting task to choose where to live. How in the world are you supposed to know where the best areas are when you haven’t even visited yet? Certainly the same areas of the city won’t be appropriate for everyone – those who come to Shanghai to party will probably want to live in a different area than those raising a family, who will probably want a different area than those who are most concerned about getting to work on time. By now you’ve probably heard of the more popular expat strongholds, such as Jing’An, the French Concession, or Pudong. Those places aren’t for everyone, however, so below is a list of alternatives to the usuals.


Xuhui 徐汇
Located in the southwest corner of Shanghai, the French Concession can be found within this district. Another big player that often gets overlooked is also here however – Xujiahui. It’s a conveniently located hub of shopping, recreation, and restaurants. If you’re tired of the urban environment, by all means stroll over to the French Concession area for some historic sites. A Catholic church and a Buddhist temple are both located within this district, which seems like an education unto itself.

Advantages: Convenient to stores, restaurants, and fitness centers; Within walking distance to the French Concession; Multiple subway lines run through it

Disadvantages: Crowded; Traffic can be bad, especially around rush hour

Luwan 荔湾
There are two main attractions in this part of town - Huaihai Road and Xintiandi. You can find everything on the semi-magical Huaihai Road, from high end shopping to popular Western eateries. The Xiangyang Road street market is also a great place for bargain finds for those on a budget. Xintiandi is pretty much expat heaven, with a quaint square full of Western restaurants, a movie theater, and ridiculously classy bars. It’s the more laid back area expats go to get away from the open bar crowds of liquor guzzling twenty-somethings.

Advantages: Trendy; A lot of options for shopping, dining, etc

Disadvantages: A bit pricey; Touristy

Huangpu 黄浦
Huangpu District encompasses People’s Square, the center of Shanghai around which everything revolves. However, there’s so much more here than the dizzying traffic, mobs of people shopping and going to Peace Cinema, and business people pushing their ways through the subway. Theater buffs will love the convenient access to the Shanghai Grand Theatre, while the Art Museum and Shanghai Museum are educational institutions that can be visited again and again. Its close proximity to the Bund is also a nice touch for those days when you feel like living the high life.

Advantages: Centrally located; Tons of entertainment options

Disadvantages: Pricey; Very crowded and noisy; Can be difficult to get a taxi

Changning 长宁
Located in the Western area of Shanghai, Changning District has been booming for the last few years. Here you’ll find Gubei and Hongqiao, both of which are popular tourist residential areas. Dingxi Lu is becoming the go-to place for authentic Chinese cuisine and laid back bars, while Zhongshan Park (and its adjacent mall, of course) is just a walk away.

Advantages: Affordable; Convenient to French Concession, Gubei, and Hongqiao

Disadvantages: Far from Pudong (which some may see as a good thing); Apartments can be a bit rundown

Hongqiao 虹桥
As part of Changning District, Hongqiao consists of some brand spanking new apartment complexes which are sure to bring the expats running. Hongqiao Road is a major lifeline through Shanghai, which makes it convenient to hop over to Hongmei Pedestrian Street for a stroll down the restaurant and bar-filled lane. It’s extremely close to the Hongqiao airport (duh), which makes it a great place for those whose business involves a lot of travel.

Advantages: Relatively quiet; Convenient to airport

Disadvantages: Can be a bit of a drive if you want to travel to other parts of the city; Constant construction.

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