Shanghai is divided into two major parts, Puxi (the west part) and Pudong (the east part), with the magnificent Huangpu River flowing between them. As with other big cities, Shanghai is also segregated into several districts. The downtown area, which consists of five districts, lies in the center of the city.
As an international hub, Shanghai attracts myriads of foreigners every year, contributing to a local housing market boom and adding vitality and business opportunities to the city.
Many newcomers fall in love with the city instantly when they see its tree-lined streets, low-rise European-style architecture and innumerable skyscrapers towering everywhere in the city.
According to state policies, foreigners are not allowed to buy homes or apartments in China until they've been here at least a year. Overseas institutions and individuals that want to purchase property for purposes other than their own use must set up a company in China.
Shanghai is not only a bustling metropolitan city, but also an urban sprawl in a region of its own. Puxi, the home to nearly 50% of Shanghai's millions of residents, is the main urban area of historical Shanghai and includes the districts of Yangpu, Hongkou, Zhabei, Putuo, Changning, Xuhui, Jing'an, and Huangpu.
On the east side of the Huangpu River, there is the Pudong New Area, Shanghai's booming industrial and financial district. Puxi and Pudong are surrounded by the northern suburbs (Baoshan, Jiading, Qingpu, Northern Songjiang, Western Minhang) and southern suburbs (Jinshan, Fengxian, Southern Songjiang, Eastern Minhang.) Baoshan, Jiading, and Minhang are still relatively close to the city center.
A popular housing location for expats, Hongqiao offers convenient access to downtown via the Yan'an elevated road, as well as the North or South arms of the Inner Ring Road. Another selling point of Hongqiao would be its strategic location with several international schools (located in far West Minghang) and downtown business districts. Hongqiao showcases dozens of gated communities which range from poorly constructed, privately owned, decade old houses to brand new, fully equipped, modern villas. Some popular international schools are right in Hongqiao, including Yew Cheung International School and the Shanghai Community International School.
Therefore, Hongqiao is an excellent option for families who have offices located in Hongqiao or downtown Puxi, and children attending school anywhere in Puxi. However, this convenience may come at a relatively expensive price.
Far West and South-west suburbs (Qingpu, Minhang, Xinzhuang, Songjiang, Zhudi town)
The far west and southwest suburbs offer some excellent deals on decade-old properties, as well as some well managed and designed brand new properties. By far the biggest advantage of these distant properties is the price. Identical properties 20 minutes further west of Hongqiao cost nearly half as much as those within Hongqiao.
Gated communities in these suburbs tend to be off of major roads and highways. Some of the areas surrounding these villas tend to be rather rural and may not offer much convenience for expat residents. You may also enjoy excellent sports facilities, small convenience stores and landscaped public areas. It is very common for several gated communities to be next to each other in certain areas, for instance off HuQing Ping Road (7 expat compounds) and in Zhudi town (near the Shanghai American School) (6 compounds).
Xinzhuang offers the advantage of being very near subway Line 1, a sure (but busy) way to cut down on office commuting times. "Villas Contemporary Spirit" should be on everyone's list if this area matches your needs.
Several compounds in Minhang and Qingpu are especially popular with Europeans and some places for consideration include Jiu Shi Xi Jiao and Lakeside Villas, among others.
The western suburbs may be an ideal option for families who prefer the convenience of living close to the nearby international schools, need large houses that are unavailable (or unaffordable) closer to Shanghai or who simply prefer living in quieter, expat oriented compounds with excellent facilities.
Gubei is a residential area located in Changning District, Shanghai and covers an area of 136.6 hectares (338 acres). Gubei is best known as an enclave of East Asian expatriates in Shanghai, including those from Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. As a result, Gubei is sometimes informally referred to as "Little Tokyo", "Little Taipei" or "K-town". Gubei also has a significant number of expatriates from Europe and North America. Administratively, it comprises two residential communities, Gubei Xincheng and Gubei Hongyuan.
Downtown (Luwan, Jing'an, Xuhui)
A very small percentage of expat families with school-going children prefer to live downtown in the Jing'an, Xuhui and Luwan districts. While a few smaller gated villa compounds do exist here, the majority of downtown families live in large 200 to 500sqm serviced apartments. On the other hand, some brave families opt to fully integrate into China by living in restored, renovated old properties.
For expats who live downtown, the advantages of being able to integrate into the Chinese community, being walking distance from local (and expat) restaurants, events and organizations and being closer to the office tends to weigh against the disadvantages of having higher rentals for less space, sacrificing the villa garden area, living in denser populated areas and having lengthier international school commutes.
Click HERE to check the housing information in Pudong.