COST OF LIVING The cost of living in Shanghai is generally considered the highest in China, but with time and an adjustment to lifestyle choices, one can learn to locate places for cheaper goods and products.
SHOPPING These days, you can buy just about everything in Shanghai. Imported produce is more expensive than back home though. Buying vegetables from local vendors is often half the price of fresh produce from supermarkets, although the bigger stores may have a larger organic selection. Some of the best bargains in Shanghai can be found in its local markets. Spread throughout the city, these places are a great way for savvy shoppers to find deals on pearls, electronics, antiques, books and branded clothing (but be weary of their authenticity and quality), while prices for luxury goods at places like the malls on Nanjing Road are in line with those in North America and Europe.
FOOD AND DINING Cost of food and dining will depend on type and location, for example, many locals and foreign students do eat at a small mian guan or tan restaurant for dinner. Slightly more mid-range Chinese-style restaurants would usually cost more per person. Restaurants serving foreign food are often much more expensive. Occasionally, more upscale restaurants will also apply a service charge to the bill since waiters don’t normally receive tips in Shanghai.
ACCOMMODATION Shanghai is mostly dominated by apartment-style housing and it is the most affordable type of accommodation. Many landlords offer fully furnished accommodations, and most compounds will have some sort of clubhouse or small store nearby. Housing prices in Shanghai have skyrocketed over the years. Often, you have to compromise between location, pricing, and quality of housing.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT Shanghai is easy to get around, and taxis are inexpensive and easily available, although language is still a bit of a problem. If you plan to travel by taxis, perhaps it is better to prepare ‘taxi cards,’ which are cards with the names of destinations written in Chinese. There are over 10 subway lines and a plethora of bus routes available for your convenience, but over time, you might consider buying a bicycle, which is cheap, environmentally friendly and does wonders to your fitness level. Do avoid travelling during rush hours or you might find yourself taking over 2 hours taxi ride for a normally 30mins journey. While the metro is probably most reliable time-wise, you will find yourself caught in a never-ending stream of people.
COMMUNICATION Landline telephone calls are free, and Internet is fast and affordable. However, due to China’s censorship body, all forms of social media are closely monitored by the state. Proxy server software does the rounds within the expat community, and new arrivals need only ask expats who have been in the country for a while about what the best options are. China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom are also the biggest mobile phone operators in the country. Most newly arrived visitors get a pay-as-you-go package. There are so many different plans, voice and data, data only, monthly plans, prepaid plans, etc. The best thing is to get one while at the airport and English is widely spoken for better explanation and best advice for your telecommunication needs. You might need to show proof of address in Chin a and a copy of your passport, but the process is usually quite straightforward.
WEATHER AND CLIMATE Shanghai has a humid subtropical climate with four seasons. Winters are cold and temperatures sometimes drop below zero. However, it hardly snows in Shanghai. In contrast, summers tend to be hot and humid.