Undoubtedly, comfort has its price. In comparison to the average standard of living among Shanghai's lower middle classes, the typical expatriate life style is fairly luxurious. The monthly rent for higher-end housing starts at a minimum of US$3,000. But it's not unheard of that top executives might rent a luxury penthouse in downtown Shanghai for US$15, 000 per month or more.
Single expats or expat couples may, however, get a decent apartment for US$2, 000-3,000 a month. Self-made expats living on a budget can find small apartments for US$1, 000-2,000. If you choose a non-prime area, housing will obviously be cheaper. You should also take into consideration that your real estate agent expects a commission of one or two monthly rents.
Unless you live in a hotel, you have to pay utility bills every month. It costs 3 yuan per cubic meter of gas, 1.92 yuan per cubic meter of water, and 1.7 yuan per cubic meter of sewage.
If you find many people do laundry, take a shower or charge their electric mopeds after 10pm, there is a reason behind it. Electricity rate is 0.617 yuan/kwh from 6am-10pm but only a half between 10pm-6am.
You can pay your utility bills in cash at a convenience store or at a bank or with Alipay and other online payment services. If there is a problem, you can always turn to your landlord for help.
After moving to your new place, do not forget to re-register with the Shanghai police. If you previously stayed in a hotel, the staff will have taken care of this for you. The residents of an expat compound can also ask the building management staff to look into the matter on their behalf.
As a normal tenant, though, you have to go to the nearest police station within 24 hours of your change of address. Bring along the following:
- your valid passport and visa
- your rental agreement
- your landlord's proof of ownership
New Apartment mansion
They are everywhere in the city with a wider range of prices for different qualities, e.g. to rent a new well decorated apartment with two bedrooms, two living rooms, a kitchen and two bathrooms in Jing'an may cost you 6,000 yuan (US$1,000) to 8,000 yuan a month. But the rent price for a set of similar apartment in Xingzhuang or other suburban areas may cost 3,000 yuan or 4,000 yuan a month.
Most of the old apartments are built before 1949. Designed by western architects, they are differed from local stone gate houses and traditional Chinese houses, but have a closer relationship and strain with their foreign peers in Europe and America. They were well-equipped with all modern facilities of the time. However, they now become historic architectures with a charming flavor of old times.
Similar as the old villas, some well-furnished old apartments are pricy. The purchasing price for each square meters will be no less than US$2,500. If you rent a two-bedroom suite in Xuhui along Huaihai Road, it will cost you at least US$1,000 a month.
But when you wake up at morning, you can go downstairs and have your brunch at a café at the street corner or go directly to your office with a walk distance, you may find it is worthy.
Old garden villa
Most villas in downtown areas were built before 1949, with nice appearances outside, facilities in them may be old, but still a lot of them are renovated with modern facilities by their owners for rent or sell.
The prices for sale are very high; some may even cost more than US$1 or 2 million. That's the reason why most of the expatriates choose to rent. The price for renting an old villa in the area will cost you from 10,000 yuan (US$1,650) to 100,000 yuan a month depending on the area and facilities.
If their owners protected them well, inside the old villa, you may see polished brown floor board and well decorated fireplace, even the chimneys and pipes are also working. Some may be equipped with old furniture which may arouse people's memories to earlier times of last century.
With a small garden in the front or at the behind, you may enjoy tea in a sun-shine afternoon or hold parties at weekend.
Old ones are concentrated in downtown areas. Some are changed beyond recognition, however still a lot of them are well protected by their owners. Some old house agencies will provide you the rent or even purchase services.
New ones are mainly built out of the downtown area, such as Gubei and Jinqiao, with fresh air and green sceneries around, which is suitable to those who wish to live a quiet and peaceful life.
Independent lane house
They are hidden inside in downtown areas and separated from each other by lanes and high walls. With a small yard in the front and a door backside, it will provide you a large space as well as a well-protected private life. The prices for rent or sale are less expensive than old villa, but they are still high.
Without a private owned fence around garden, they are lying in some residential areas in suburbs. Living in them, people may have more privacy then those live in townhouses.
Most of the trees and green spaces around are for public use, so, you may share and enjoy the happy outdoor life with your neighbors in sunny afternoons or weekends.
Run by several large hotel groups, serviced apartments are good choices for expatriates who plan to stay here for a short period of time, say several months. Well furnished, 24-hours butler service, which makes life easier and treats you like a king of the city. Most of the serviced apartments are concentrated in downtown and expatriate communities. Prices are high, with a range from US$1,000 a month to US$7,500 a month for different apartments with different spaces and services.
Privatized public apartment
Most of them have a similar appearance as their Russian or East European peers and were built after 1949. They can be found everywhere in the city, however rents differ from each other, depending on their locations.
In downtown, such as Xuhui and Jing'an, a set with one bedroom, one small bathroom, a kitchen as well as a small living room may cost a rent of 2,000 yuan a month, while in suburbs the same housing type only costs 1,000 yuan a month or less.