Shanghai, China Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China 04/05/17

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. I have traveled extensively in Europe, Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Close to 2 years.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Government-assigned housing at luxury apartment in downtown Shanghai. State Department employees reside in high quality housing.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Everything is available in Shanghai, but at higher cost.

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3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Sherpas and Nosh deliveries are convenient. Delivery fees are low.

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Daily Life:

1. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Housekeepers and nannies are inexpensive and readily available.

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2. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

International credit cards and ATM cards are accepted almost everywhere in downtown Shanghai.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. Taxis are inexpensive, though it has become harder to flag one down due to the abundance of cab-calling services such as "Di-di". Even without Chinese, buses and metros are easily accessible. The Shanghai buses stops at every stop so one could count the number of stops to reach the destination.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

It is easy to obtain a local phone number. Do not sign up for discounted call or data plans as the cancellation process is difficult.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Dress code is business to business casual within the consulate, depending on one's section. In public places, one could see a wide array of dressing choices ranging from pajamas, micro-skirts, sweatpants, to high-end street fashion.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Pollution and food safety are two major concerns. Expats seek medical care at private hospitals and clinics with international standards.

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2. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Poor air quality. Seasonal allergies. Many locals and long-term expats experience respiratory problems.

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3. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Bring plenty of face masks and allergy medications.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Though we do not have children of school age living in Shanghai, I get the impression that international schools are of high quality because many officers with school age children extend their assignment to allow their children finish school here.

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Expat Life:

1. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Meeting good colleagues at the consulate. Weekend getaways to neighboring countries: Japan, Malaysia, Thailand.

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2. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

There are many direct fights out of Shanghai. Shanghainese people do not bother strangers and the city feels very secure.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Despite the constant poor air quality and occasional discomforts from cultural differences (not queuing, loud shouting, shoving, littering, etc.). I would still move to this city

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Car.

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3. But don't forget your:

Allergy medication.

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Shanghai, China 10/11/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Paris, Florence.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

USA about 10 to 14 hours to various spots on the west coast.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Adequate and with a super-short commute.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Super cheap on the local market. Don't expect organic or clean food. Super expensive for imports and produce labeled organic.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Any specialty foods (gluten free, soy free, whatever free). Yogurt starter and a yogurt maker.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

All...anything can be delivered, even groceries, which is great. Sherpas is popular but you will probably find your own places.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

No.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Lots...just need to interview and get them cleared.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Expect western prices and not always western service/cleanliness.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You need a local card....but most of the economy is cash including delivery services.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Tons of classes available to learn the language and they are affordable. One can get by without Mandarin, though. Just know a few basic useful phrases.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. Super cheap. Taxi drivers can drive like madmen and don't expect seat belts. Metro/subway is cheap and easy to navigate.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Don't know. Get a scooter...

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

If working for the US government, expect problems.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Don't bring your expensive phone. Local phones and plans are plentiful.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

At the consulate, as teachers or in finance.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Business.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Surveillance.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Lots of air ground and water pollution. Each person responds differently. Many people have stomach and respiratory issues. Folks are tested for TB upon departure.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Sucks.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Bring all your food (or find a shipper). Local doctors don't believe in allergies.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Local environment frustration blues.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Humid...quasi-DC weather...doesn't really get cold in winter...one can still wear linen.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large. Morale varies. Some love it...some hate it. Climate is getting worse for western business expats. Apply that how you will to government expats.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Many clubs and groups.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Lots of dating opportunities for single men.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Not that I am aware of.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Leaving.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Better to live in Hong Kong and not on the mainland.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Manners.

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4. But don't forget your:

Money.

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Shanghai, China 12/15/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Nope. Cities in Eastern Europe, North/South/Central America, other cities in China.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

US. Depends on the connection usually about 18 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

1.5 years.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing varies widely. Most government and expat housing is on the nicer end. Though international teachers and others living more on the local economy certainly end up with more local-like living (small apartments, no washer, never a dryer, no parking) etc. Traffic is HORRENDOUS. Live close to work. Buy an electric bike.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

It varies widely. Dishwasher soap is EXPENSIVE. Only rich people have dishwashers. Groceries: meat is generally expensive. You can sometimes stock up on pork or chicken when it goes on sale. Vegetables are not too pricey if you buy directly at the wet market (farmer's type market). There is the wholesale market that makes some other items more affordable too (tortillas, cheese, etc.). Or you can buy it all at CityShop which is $$$$.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

We brought brownie mix and peanut butter. Good choices. Olive oil is a great one ($$$ here).

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Lots of fast food and decent restaurants. Street food can sometimes be had for as low as 4RMB (6RMB=US$1). However, generally expect to pay 15-25RMB on the low side. The high goes exceptionally high. You aren't thinking high enough.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes for part of the year.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I use either the DPO or the diplomatic pouch. All the standards are here too: China Post, UPS, FedEx, etc.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very available. Very pricey. There are domestics with college degrees because it pays better. You are looking at ~US$$5 an hour for full-time. You will also have to pay holidays and the "13th month" bonus. It all really depends on what you can negotiate.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. Expensive. Only western wannabes or spoiled rich people use those kinds of facilities. Real estate is very expensive.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

They work fine when a vendor will take them. They are called "international" credit cards, unless issued by a local bank. Some vendors charge you what it costs them to accept the card.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Lots. Every religion I know of has a service here somewhere. I would say no Jedi, but there probably are.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

In Shanghai, 0; but it will cost you. Knowing even a little Chinese helps in this city.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

In pretty much any and every Chinese city, anyone with a disability will have problems. Maybe less so in Shanghai, but let's face it: The Chinese are very Darwinian.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes. yes, they are. Generally speaking. Some regional or farther trains are carrying people infected with TB (which is endemic). So be careful there. Otherwise, no problem. Chinese habits are different. Beware if you can't handle that sort of thing.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes - so long as you realize that it is only high-speed WITHIN China. Anything outside of China is slow. It doesn't matter what you pay. It varies from about US$30 a month to more than US$100 a month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

If you want unlimited data - get a U.S. plan from T-Mobile. If you just want limited expensive data, go with CHina Unicom. If you want mostly 2G, expensive data get China Mobile. Everything is still really GSM. So plan on that kind of phone. If you are looking for a good buy, pick up a XiaoMi4 or something like that while you are here.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Don't have any. Yes, there is some quarantine requirement, but I don't know what it is. There are TONS of dogs in Shanghai. There is vet care and even mobile kennel care.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not so much. This is a hard one. The Chinese are really very protective of the labor market.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

There are some. Mostly with established international groups. Again, the Chinese can be controlling here, though they do still want western groups to do good where possible. Stick with the established groups. They have the connections to stay out of trouble.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

It depends on what social class you want to travel in. You can definitely tell the difference here.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Not too much. China is a fairly safe place for foreigners.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

There is generally high quality medical care here if you take advantage of the Western facilities and faculties. You can find Chinese practice too. Prices tend to be higher.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Mostly goes from unhealthy to very unhealthy (or worse). The air in Shanghai used to be much better. They hit 700 pm2.5 this past year. A record. While Shanghai doesn't have the same high levels of air pollution, they also don't seem the have the winds that clear it out on a more regular basis.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

The pollution here can trigger allergies. If you have food allergies, be prepared. You probably won't know all of what is in something you are eating.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Cold in winter (can snow). Hot in summer (sub-tropics hot). It tends to rain in the first part of the year. Weather patterns have been changing and becoming more erratic. A benefit to Shanghai is that all of the tropical cyclones (hurricanes) seem to dodge around Shanghai (really!).

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Many, many international schools. Some better than others. Many different educational philosophies. Look for one that matches what you want.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Depends on the school. A few schools will (SCIS, Livingston). Many schools will not (YCIS, SAS). Your mileage may vary.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes. They are generally expensive. Most are not what would be considered preschools by western standards. Daycare is probably a better term.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

There is really only one, outside of the schools. They mostly meet on Sundays. It is US$20 every 1-2 hour practice.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

So huge you will never know them all. Generally good. Everyone has their reasons for being here. Some are dragged along, some did the dragging.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Have a party. Go out. See a show. See movie. Explore. You name it, it is here.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Of course! It is a giant city. One of the largest in the world. There is something here for EVERYONE (except perhaps those who long for nature).

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Probably. The Chinese aren't that tolerant of, well, anything that isn't "Han". That said, it is a giant city. There is lots of pretty much everything here.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

More racial than anything. Religion doesn't come up. Gender isn't so much of an issue unless you are strongly against traditional stereotypes. Race is huge for the Chinese. The darker the skin, the worse it is. That said, you do find more sophisticated opinions here than in many (read: most) Chinese cities.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Foreigners are everywhere in Shanghai. To some extent, if you are going to go less noticed in China, this is the city to do it in. All of the normal advantages for shopping, if you take the time to find the right places. It is harder to do than before.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Lots of fun and different food places. Huge markets of every sort. Not just malls like the U.S. and Europe. I mean markets for every kind of zipper and button or electronic parts and equipment or etc., etc. Shanghai is so huge that even if everyone shared their secret places, no one would be able to visit them all. There is just so much here.

Salami Sandwiches at CityShop are only 25RMB. That is a steal here.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There isn't a lot that is unique. That said there are some great boutiques and you can always have clothes tailored.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Lots of chances to get out to the real China. Lots of chances to see theater or large concerts or pretty much anything a large city has to offer (if you are willing to pay).

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10. Can you save money?

Not likely.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That the air had worsened so much.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Maybe.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Wanting to save.

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4. But don't forget your:

N95 or N100 mask.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Tons of movies. None really come to mind. "Purple Butterfly"

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Like most every place, a lot of what you find, you bring with you.

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Shanghai, China 08/08/14

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Studied in Beijing, lived in rural Yunnan Province.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Northeastern U.S. There are plenty of direct flights out of Beijing and Shanghai, though you can get cheaper flights that connect through Hong Kong, Canada, Dubai, or Seoul. I usually take the direct flight if I have a lot of luggage, and that takes around 13 hours.

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3. How long have you lived here?

Been in China for one year (starting July 2013), plan to stay until November 2014.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Internship/Work.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most foreigners in Shanghai rent apartments through agencies or classified ads. I'm not totally clear on the big expat neighborhoods, but most seem to live around Xuhui, places around universities, or close to West Nanjing Road. Generally, the closer you are to the city center (People's Square, West Nanjing Road), the more expensive it's going to be, but you can find reasonably priced apartments if you look carefully. I live in a pretty mixed Chinese-expat neighborhood near the city center, and my commute is a very pleasant 20-minute walk.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Cheap, cheap, cheap. If you want to subsist entirely on Western imports, you may find your bank account dwindling pretty quickly, but produce is very inexpensive (especially if you go to specialized produce markets), most products, even import brands, don't cost too much more than in the U.S. (sometimes they're cheaper) and are widely available in most grocery stores and convenience stores.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

Nothing, really. Everything's available in Shanghai.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

If you want food at any possible price point, Shanghai is your town. The tiny local places will only set you back 20 RMB at the most, and you can also splurge at fancy steakhouses or cocktail bars if that's your thing. There are plenty of fast food chains from multiple countries (as well as Chinese fast food options), but why would you eat fast food when you can get some of the most delicious Chinese cuisine for less than US$5?

Current events tip: McDonald's has a very limited menu right now due to their meat supplier violating a whole lot of public health codes. Take your business elsewhere if you want a burger.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes can be a nuisance here, though they don't carry diseases, at least in this part of China. You might encounter roaches in some lower-end hotels.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

You can use FedEx in Shanghai and Beijing, but for everywhere else, there's China Post, which is generally very reliable. International shipping takes a couple weeks generally, though smaller things can be shipped overnight.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Hiring an ayi (cleaning lady) is quite common and the going rate is pretty cheap (I don't remember the exact number).

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Lots and lots of gyms, though they can be a bit pricey. I just do yoga and pilates on my own and go jogging. There are running clubs you can join for free (mostly expats), and the ubiquitous dancing grannies in the parks around the city are quite enthusiastic if you join in their line dancing.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

China is still very much a cash economy, so bring lots of cash unless you're only going to large chain restaurants/stores (which take credit cards and UnionPay cards). ATMs attached to banks are generally quite secure (some are even in enclosed stalls with lockable doors); stick to ATMs at large, reputable banks (Bank of China, ICBC, China CITIC, China Construction Bank, Postal Savings Bank) and you should be alright. If you're really worried about security, you can always walk into the bank and ask the teller to help you make a withdrawal.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Not really sure. I know there's a Jewish center with multiple branches, though.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

If you're only in major expat areas, you won't need much, and most younger people have an at least decent command of English (if you are obviously foreign, most people will at least attempt to communicate with you in English), but if you want to interact with local people in any meaningful way, you'll need at least basic Mandarin. Courtesy phrases (hello, goodbye, thank you, numbers, excuse me, how much) are appreciated and received very enthusiastically if you're an obvious foreigner, but people might overestimate your language ability and start speaking to you in rapid-fire Mandarin!

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Shanghai is not great when it comes to accommodations for people with disabilities, though they have been improving. Most bathrooms have handicapped stalls, almost all multi-story buildings have elevators, and the sidewalks, while uneven and littered with construction materials and people on mopeds, have curb cuts. Not sure about accessibility of transportation, but only a few metro stations have elevators.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

All very safe and affordable, though sometimes taxi drivers in rural areas will try to overcharge you or not use their meter, and shared cabs are the norm in the countryside.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Getting a driver's license in China is very, very difficult from what I've heard from expat friends but unless you live in the suburbs or plan to do a lot of road trips, you really don't need a car. Public transportation is very well-developed in China pretty much wherever you go.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, and pretty reasonably priced. My roommates and I each paid 50 RMB per month for generally reliable wi-fi (it occasionally got too slow and we would need to reset the router) that streamed video quite well and allowed for very clear Skype calls.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Some U.S. carriers work in China, but unless you have cash to burn, get a local SIM card. They're quite inexpensive, available everywhere, and many come with data plans.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Not sure.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Lots and lots, though make sure you get the proper visa to avoid bureaucratic or legal troubles.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Plenty. I know of a lot of schools for migrant workers' children and advocacy organizations for migrant workers that take volunteers, and I've heard of an animal welfare organization that also takes volunteers.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Depends on where you work, but generally go for business casual to formal. Watch what your co-workers wear. For public, anything goes, really, though women here tend not to show much cleavage except when they're going out to a nightclub.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Keep your wits about you in crowded places like train stations or tourist areas, since pickpockets are a real threat (my wallet was stolen while I was traveling in Dali, Yunnan Province). Walking alone after dark isn't terribly dangerous as long as you stay in well-populated areas. You might want to keep abreast of current events since terrorist attacks have occurred in places like train stations (cf. the Kunming Train Station attack in March), though these attacks don't seem to target foreigners. Just use common sense and you should be alright.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Air quality can be a concern if you have respiratory issues, and you shouldn't drink water that isn't bottled or boiled. Food poisoning is pretty common due to lax health standards at some restaurants, but drug stores with Western brand medicines (you may need to look up the generic or Chinese name, though) are ubiquitous. There are hospitals and clinics that cater to foreigners and even take insurance, though they can be pricey. Watch out for stray dogs and cats, since rabies is endemic to China. Psychiatric care is very, very limited, so if you do have mental health issues, see if you can Skype with your therapist, and bring enough of any psychiatric drugs you take to last for your time in China (if you're not going home at any point). HIV/AIDS is a growing concern in some parts of China, but you can easily buy condoms at any convenience store (birth control is also very easy to find, though not all Western brands are available).

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Not as bad as Beijing, but if you have respiratory problems, it might bother you. I'm not terribly bothered by it, though.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

HOT. I sometimes bring a spare shirt to work because I sweat so much on my walk to work. Even a light mile jog will have you sweating like you ran a marathon. Bring light clothes and lots of anti-perspirant.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

I'm not sure about schools that cater to foreigners but from my experience as a teacher in a rural area and according to some research I did, kids with special needs get little to no accommodation or support. Now that awareness of disability is growing in urban areas, services are expanding and getting better, but it's slow-going, and generally those services can be quite expensive.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge, and very, very high morale.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Hosting parties at your apartment, going out to cafes or restaurants, going to bars or clubs (though this is more of an expat pastime; Chinese tend to go to restaurants or karaoke), checking out cultural events, KTV (karaoke), sporting events (The Color Run is hosting a race in Shanghai this year)...you have to actively try to be bored here.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I think it's pretty good for everyone.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

People are generally quite accepting, though it seems like the LGBT scene is pretty quiet, though it's definitely there. There's been a Shanghai Pride week since 2009, though it's not a parade, and same-sex marriage isn't recognized here. Though there are plenty of gay bars and clubs, from what I've heard.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Shanghai is pretty cosmopolitan and has a lot of foreigners, so people are much more accustomed to seeing people of different races and backgrounds, though if you leave the big city, expect a lot of staring and unsolicited photo-taking if you don't look Asian. I've heard that black people can face job discrimination and sometimes unkind/insensitive comments, but those comments tend to be out of ignorance/curiosity rather than malice. China is a bit more conservative than the West when it comes to gender roles (women are expected to live at home with their parents until marriage), but there are quite a lot of female CEOs and working women, and I've met a lot of Chinese women who proudly identify as feminists, so you shouldn't have too many problems if you're a woman. Though if you go to the countryside, be ready to be asked about your marital status and nosy questions about why you're still single, especially if you're older than 18 or so.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

In China: the food. Chinese cuisine is so diverse with a bit of something for everyone, and getting to try all sorts of foods (I recommend Mapo Tofu) has been a real treat. Hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan Province. Climbing Emei Shan in Sichuan.

In Shanghai: again, the food. Also, just being in such a lively, cosmopolitan city.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The club/bar scene is very vibrant, and there are always great cultural events going on. Check out the Urban Planning Museum and the house where the Communist Party was formed, as well as the French Concession. Of course, walking along the Bund is great fun, and you'll get a better "slice of life" if you duck into one of the less expat-y neighborhoods. Shopping caters to any price point; you can splurge on Gucci and Louis Vuitton on West Nanjing Road, or hit up the malls in many of the metro stations or the night markets for cheap goods. If you want a bit more "real China", it's very easy to hop on a train to Hangzhou or Suzhou to see more historical sites, and in-China flights to other cities are very cheap.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Shanghai doesn't have too many local handicrafts, but it's easy to go out to places like Hangzhou, which have lots of lovely traditional Chinese handicrafts (you can get some in Shanghai, but they tend not to be very good-quality). If you go out to Yunnan (where I used to live), you'll be in handicraft central. Check out silver made by the Miao and Bai people, and batik cloth.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

If you cook for yourself and don't go out partying too often, you can save a bit of money (though Shanghai is more expensive than other cities in China). The culture is amazing, you can eat some truly awesome food, and it's very easy to get to historic and cultural sites outside of the city (Shanghai doesn't offer much in the way of history/culture in the way that Hangzhou, Suzhou, Beijing, and Chengdu do). Weather isn't great in Shanghai (very hot and humid), but the rain cools things down.

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10. Can you save money?

Yes, as long as you don't go partying every weekend and cook for yourself sometimes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

How diverse it really is.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, in a heartbeat. Though I am a little China'd out at the moment.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Assumptions about China.

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4. But don't forget your:

Shoes (they'll wear out very quickly and if you're larger than a U.S. size 8 or so you'll have a heck of a time finding a pair here), Mandarin phrasebook, umbrella, bug spray, toilet paper.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

I haven't seen too many about Shanghai specifically, but if you want some background on modern Chinese history, check out "To Live" and "Farewell My Concubine." If you want a film that touches on the issues that a lot of ordinary Chinese people are facing today, look for "Still Life," which is about migrant workers dealing with the environmental and economic effects of the Three Gorges Dam in Sichuan Province.

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6. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Not related to Shanghai specifically (though there are oodles of books about it), but if you want a story about a very big social issue in China right now, read Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China
, which is about women from the countryside going to big cities to find work in the huge factories.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Shanghai is awesome!

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Shanghai, China 08/01/11

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No - I lived in Guangdong, China before.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington, DC - 14 hours to Newark and then connect to DC.

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3. How long have you lived here?

12 months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

U.S. Consulate.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Consulate employees live in several different locations. My housing is in the center of town, in the corporate housing apartments attached to the Ritz Carlton. My office is nearby, so commute time is about 10 minutes. However traffic here is terrible. If you live further from work be ready for the commute.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Western groceries and brands are all available but can be ridiculously expensive. We buy a lot of stuff from Amazon and have it shipped.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

More staple food items, shampoo, make-up, deodorant, other cosmetic products, also alcohol (it's expensive here unless you know where to look).

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Any and all fast food is here, except Taco Bell. There are several fast food chains, such as Carl's Jr., which I had not even tried in the US. There is every imaginable range of restaurants - you can spend 50 cents on a meal or US$200. It's up to you.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Not many. Most Chinese food has some meat component. IF you are a vegetarian get ready to eat a lot of rice and green vegetables, or cook at home.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Mosquitoes in summer.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Through the DPO.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Very cheap and easy to find.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, but they are quite expensive.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Most higher-end places take credit cards, but cash is the most convenient method of payment. I haven't had any problems with ATMs.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

There are a couple of non-denominational services around town - Christian, Catholic, Mormon, that I have heard of.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, but the local papers are mainly just propaganda.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can get by with very little Mandarin in Shanghai, however knowing some will greatly increase your standard of living and help you make a good impression on the locals.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Lots of difficulty. It is not handicapped accessible.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, and yes! The Metro is also great.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

You don't need a car here; there is great public transportation.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

The internet is VERY slow, the slowest in China. Get a VPN or you won't be able to access Facebook/ You Tube/ many news sites/ blogs sites/ etc.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Cell phones are cheap and easy, most a rechargeable SIM cards. China Mobile has been fine for us.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes and I hear it is a horrible, scarring process.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

My husband is not allowed to work on the local economy because he has a diplomatic passport, and there is no bilateral work agreement between China and the U.S. However the consulate has been good about creating jobs for any family members who are interested in working.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Casual all around. You will see some very funky outfits in Shanghai - Chinglish T-shirts are quite popular.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Pickpocketing, aggressive beggars. Also if you are affiliated with the government in any way, prepare to be kept under close surveillance.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

The pollution can be bad, and lots of people have gotten food poisoning. There are some Western medical facilities available that are decent but for anything major I would go to Singapore, Hong Kong, or back home.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

The air quality is unhealthy most of the time, but not as bad as most other large Chinese cities (Beijing for example). About once a week we will get a gorgeous blue sky day & the rest of the time it's hazy.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

The summers are very hot and muggy, winters are long, grey, and can be very cold. Fall and spring are very short.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I do not have kids, but I have heard that the Shanghai American School is excellent.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Don't know much about this but I have heard that people with kids can get an "ayi" to help them with childcare very reasonably.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

HUGE!

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2. Morale among expats:

Seems good overall, however although Shanghai is quite modern compared to the rest of China it is still China and the traffic, spitting, pushing, lack of hygiene standards gets to most people after a while.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Shanghai has got it all and there is a very vibrant night life here. I have especially enjoyed the happy hours and drink specials. There are so many bars and restaurants that it can be quite overwhelming to choose one. My one complaint is that the service still leaves something to be desired. Shanghai knows how to be glitzy but people here have not quite figured out the concept of putting service first.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Most families seem to be pretty happy here. There are lots of expats and the kids can make friends easily. I am married with no children and I like Shanghai a lot. There are plenty of couple activities (afternoon tea, brunch spots) as well as nightlife (happy hour, bars, clubs). For singles, the dating scene is easier for single guys than for single women. However Shanghai seems to have something for everyone!

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Yes, probably the best in China. There are even a couple of gay/lesbian bars and clubs.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Yes, Shanghai-nese have the reputation for looking down on anyone who is not from Shanghai. It is hard to meet and befriend locals, because most of them are just not interested.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Traveling - there are a lot of interesting smaller cities just a train ride away. International flights aren't cheap, but exotic destinations such as Hong Kong, Bali, Thailand, Malaysia aren't far away either.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

LOTS! Restaurants, bars, clubs, parks, museums, you name it!

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Tailor-made clothing, custom furniture, pearls

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

There is always something new and interesting going on in Shanghai. You leave for a few days, come back, and things are different. It's exciting city because of the rate of change and the fast pace of life here. You can have a range of different experiences here - from eating noodles in a hole-in-the-wall shop, to having a cocktail in one of the fanciest hotels in the world.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, if you eat Chinese food most of the time and don't travel much. There are lots of temptations to spend money in and around Shanghai, so you have to really be careful.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes!

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Ideas of what China is like... this isn't the real China!

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3. But don't forget your:

Good attitude, patience, and ear plugs.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

Shanghai is exciting & fun but also TIRING!

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Shanghai, China 12/26/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Seoul, Frankfurt, Tokyo, Jeddah, Beijing.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Washington, DC.14-15 hours depending on route through San Francisco or Chicago.

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3. How long have you lived here?

July 2007-July 2010

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Government Work

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Shanghai has an oversupply of appointed western housing, and endless supply of unique, and suitable, Shanghai housing in apartment blocks, old houses, old apartments, and odd spaces. As for the commute time, always best to live close to your place of employment.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

There are plenty of local markets, and a growing number of markets that sell international foods too. All sorts of options at various prices are available. Restaurants are quite inexpensive, so you'll probably eat out more than you expect.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

None.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

All of 'em are there, and new ones opening all the time. However, one major thing missing in Shanghai is a Taco Bell. A few years ago, there was a concept Taco Bell tester restaurant on Nanjibeingng Road, but it closed down in late 2006.

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5. What kinds of organic, vegetarian and allergy-friendly foods are available, such as organic produce, gluten-free products, meat substitutes for vegetarians, etc?

Food safety is an issue to be aware of. For the vital items, sticking to highest quality brands is worth it, since sometimes, quality/safety is lost in the rush to put out cheaper products. Fake cigarettes/alcohol (and many other things) are constantly an issue.

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6. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

None of which I am aware.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

For local mail, China Post is reliable.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Inexpensive, but it depends on what you want. Put a weight on referrals from others... and get someone familiar with your building.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Everywhere, with many international chains present in Shanghai too. In addition, there are multiple local options available in every neighborhood.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Credit cards accepted at the usual places, and in China, it is customary that they add 2-3% of the cost to cover the transaction. ATMs that accept international cards are everywhere too.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, for most denominations there are services available.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, and depending on your housing, cable may be included. In many of the western-style housing areas, international cable channels are available.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

You can get by in certain parts of Shanghai on basic English alone, but some knowledge of standard Mandarin would be helpful. Good pointer:Be patient when speaking to locals speaking English, as they understand more than they let on, but to communicate better, use simple words.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

As far as Chinese cities go for accessibility for the disabled, Shanghai is probably the most forward, alas, it still has a very long way to go. Let's just say that, unfortunately, accessibility is not in the conscience of the masses yet, but it is growing. Since Beijing hosted the Paralympics in September 2008, they probably have some specialized facilities, but Shanghai is building so much these days, that it is becoming more and more accessible (but still at a dismal low).

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, Yes. See "Confucian Road Rules" above in regards to busses and taxis. The trains are fine, but by all means, BUY YOUR TICKET FROM AN AUTHORIZED VENDOR in your neighborhood, and not at the train station. Hordes of people there, Hordes.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

All are fine, but generally, the smaller the better (some garages are quite low).I believe the government mandates expat imported cars must be less than 4-5 years old. Services are available for most types, including Japanese, Korean, and European cars.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, good enough, but not exactly super speedy. Cost can range from 25-100$ USD a month, depending on your needs. You WILL need a "VPN" service to access some normal sites (strongvpn was what I used, and it worked perfectly).

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Phones are available and cheap everywhere. Find a flagship store of the vendor to get English-speaking service staff to assist you.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Unknown. It really depends, or so I've heard.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Growing. There are pet stores everywhere (mostly for the growing penchant of dogs).

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes, but you should be able to speak Chinese for the best opportunities.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Shanghai is an international business center, and appropriate dress is always recommended."Shanghai Appropriate" also includes an acceptance of business casual in many settings.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Outside of the normal precautions any urban dweller needs to be aware of, it is relatively safe. Safety concerns though, especially when driving... It is probably best to have knowledge of "Confucian Road Theory" as a bus trumps all, bigger/expensive cars trump others, small cars trump bikes, and bikes trump pedestrians. However, each member of that list thinks and acts like they are the only moving thing, and appear to be oblivious to the movements of others.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Excellent. Many western clinics with international staff. Several good (but expensive) hospitals available too, and clinics/services have relationships with highly regarded local hospitals that are among the best in China.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Not the best, but certainly not the worst. Due to the close location by the sea, Shanghai seems to have a pleasant winds that keep the dirty out. However, important to note that Shanghai is now/becoming a "service economy" for the rest of China, and consequently, does not have the detritus of aged industrial facilities close to the residential/corporate core of the city... The pollution is there, but it is MUCH better than Beijing and many other cities. If the 20 Million plus people (I think?) in Shanghai metro can live very well there, you can too. Food safety is a different issue, though.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Four seasons, with more on the heat side... It rarely snows in Shanghai, but the winds can make it seem cold. I equate the weather to something akin to Richmond, VA.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

I have heard that some international schools can have hypercompetitive students, but I have no personal experience with the schools.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Most people I know had live-in and/or daily help in their homes. The preschool fad is growing, FAST, among the local population though.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

In the tens of thousands. Many overseas Chinese also call Shanghai home.

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2. Morale among expats:

Excellent, but living and working in China can be a grinding experience for some.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Excellent. Best in China.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Absolutely, without a doubt. You can have a fabulous life here... true, it is certainly not like "home" (wherever that is), however, there exists an equivalent, if not more, of that in Shanghai.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

The best in China!There is a very large and growing GLBT population in Shanghai, and it is well-known as the "center" for a social life, great jobs, and a good life for GLBT individuals and couples. There are at least 10 bars that openly cater to a gay clientele, and many others exist if you want to explore deeper. Several bars are very much oriented towards international crowds, and like-minded locals. GLBT Expats from all over the planet call Shanghai home base. The scene for gay men is much more developed than lesbians, or so I have heard, but there is a scene for all in Shanghai.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

None that I am aware of.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

The inexplicable pace of change that occurred over my three years in Shanghai. Words can't describe the speed at which the city changes... and if any changes will last more than a few years is a question we'd all like to know a reply. Seriously, the highlights are the adaptability of the Chinese people to unprecedented change, and I must admit, the relative comforts of Shanghai as a well stocked city with plenty of things to do, great food to eat, and new things happening every day, hour, minute, second, etc...

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Just live it up!Let's face it, you'll cover the few tourist sights of Shanghai within 2-3 days. After that, just take it all in, it is a great city to live and work in, and that is what it does very well.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Anything you can imagine.

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

It's China, and Shanghai is leading the way to a bright prosperous future for 1.3 Billion (despite what the Beijing'ers say/think/wish).Easy transportation to ANYWHERE in China (or region), with a domestic AND international airport, and a hub for China's fastest trains, and China's most highly developed urban transportation system.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes, but if you are trying to save money, you'll probably run into food quality issues at some point.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Absolutely.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

thoughts of what you think is China... abandon any thought older than 2 years... if you are expecting that, you'll be immediately disappointed. It is constantly changing, growing, and evolving.

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3. But don't forget your:

Q-tips. Oddly, this was the only thing hard to find in Shanghai, as the type of ear q-tips sold everywhere in China are pretty flimsy.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Any book about Shanghai is outdated before it goes to print.

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Shanghai, China 07/08/10

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Home base is New Delhi, India.

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3. How long have you lived here?

2004-2007.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Corporate- my husband's job.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing facilities are good. There is lots to choose from. Commuting is easy with metro trains, also taxis.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Everything is available. All supermarkets have an imported section. Prices might be a bit higher.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Thousands of them, ranging from roadside to 5-star. Pick what you like.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Available through agencies. Cost varies.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes, many.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Not to worry. You can conveniently use ATMs and bank debit cards for all purchases.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes. but few.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

There are a few paid English TV channels.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Basic conversation is a must.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, all are very easy to commute with, and are affordable.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Do not bring one. It is difficult to get a driving licence, and driving is not very safe here.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Available at a reasonable price.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Yes.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Fashionable, trendy.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

No.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

International hospitals are available but very costly.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Polluted.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Mostly cold.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

1. http://www.ycis-sh.com/ Yew hung international school of Shanghai - preferred by many Indians, because of IB pattern of study, proximity to the central Puxi area of HongQiao.

2.http://www.bisshanghai.com/index. Personally I feel it is best. My son went there. It has a great campus and good teaching.

3. Concordial International school.....similar to the British.

4.Singapore International School - preferred by Indians because of its similar curriculum, and for families who have to go back, it is easier for children to adjust. Personally, I feel it doesn't solve the purpose of giving the child an international exposure.

5.www.saschina.org Shanghai American school. Very Good. You can browse more.....http://www.shanghaifinder.com/schools.html

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Yes, great facilities.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Yes.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Big.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Very good.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is good for all people.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

It should be fine. Shanghai is very cosmopolitan.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

No.

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7. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Touring, culture learning, international schooling for my child, exposure to various new ways of working, new views on how to do business.

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8. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Lots of things to do, activities, games, clubs, nightlife.

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9. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

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10. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Learning about Chinese culture, the mysterious country, touring is great.

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11. Can you save money?

Yes. Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

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3. But don't forget your:

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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6. Do you have any other comments?

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Shanghai, China 02/13/09

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No. Second time living overseas.

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2. How long have you lived here?

1 year.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Working for the U.S. Government.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

14 hours from Washington DC, give or take.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Consulate housing is split between downtown serviced apartments in one of the best buildings in the city, and very nice compound housing out near the schools in Hongqiao. All are top notch, with great service from the building/compound, in good areas with tons to offer, very convenient and comfortable. Just outstanding. The commute from downtown is 5 minutes, from the suburbs it depends on traffic - 30 on a good day, 45 on a bad one. I'm in Hongqiao, which - other than the commute - I love.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Pretty good. There are several good Western grocery chains, including Carrefour and City Shop, where you can get anything you need. US/EUR brands can be quite expensive however, so packing stuff in is a good idea. Local brands are cheap and plentiful in just about anything you can imagine, if you are willing to risk quality/safety issues.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

More Western grocery items. Not b/c they aren't available, but to save money. Diapers, which are prohibitively expensive locally. The best air purifiers money could buy.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

KFC is ubiquitous. McDonald's are everywhere, too. Lots of great local and Japanese chains, too. Literally tens of thousands of restaurants of every type imaginable. Within quick walking distance of my house alone probably a hundred or so restaurants with probably 30 different nationalities.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not really any wildlife around, including insects. I think I may have seen a bird once.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

The consulate has APO and pouch available, and we use that extensively from the US.FedEx also delivers here (but only packages and not mail). China Post is surprisingly reliable and affordable also.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Readily available, of high quality and cheap. We pay our ayi about $300/month for 55 hours per week of outstanding work, including day care, cooking, cleaning. Its almost criminal the value we get for the money.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

Yes. Decent ones free at the housing compounds, and private ones too if you want to go with a big gym.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

ATM machines are everywhere, and most places take credit cards. You need to be careful b/c receipts print with your full card number, though.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes. Finding a jewih, muslim, mormon, protestant or catholic community is fairly easy provided you aren't a local.

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6. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes. There is an English language Shanghai Daily, the South China Morning Post and other newspapers. They are censored and biased, but not as bad as I feared they'd be. We use AFN for TV, and have a local expat cable package that gets us an extra 10 channels of English language TV. There are also excellent satellite packages available. Cost to us for AFN and the local expat cable package is free.

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7. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It is really helpful. Cabbies and shopkeepers cannot be expected to speak much English. College educated Chinese will, and you'll get some from others, but a basic level of Chinese is recommended.

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8. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Some, because building codes are not done with the disabled in mind, but overall, lots of elevators and sidewalks would make most places accessible. It's better than most places outside of EUR/US/CAN/AUS.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Taxis are well regulated, metered, and cheap. It is a great alternative to a car, and how I get to work most days. Trains are comfortable and very cheap, buses are WAY too crowded to actually use. The subway system is very good, but also crowded during peak times.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

A car can be pretty useful for shopping and day trips, as the city is huge, mass transport is crowded and there is quite a bit that is off of a subway line. I'd shy away from big SUVs just because of the traffic and tight spaces. American brands are popular locally, and there are garages that can fix almost anything. The road system is pretty good, but traffic varies from congested to total parking lot. Small car would be best. They drive on the right here.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Internet is shockingly bad for a world-class city. Frankly, it is an embarassment. Between heavy censorship, monitoring of your usage and REALLY low bandwidth for supposed high speed connections, you are basically looking at dialup speeds to U.S. or EUR sites, well those that aren't blocked. We pay about US$50/month for the worst service I've had since I left the dialup world back in the early 90's.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Wait to get one here. They are cheap, and readily available. The Xujiahui area of town has an electronics market that is to die for.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

I forget precisely, but when I looked into it before our pet passed, the rules for import were manageable. Several expat families in our neighborhood have dogs or cats that are doing quite well.

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2. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

Yes.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Quite a few, in nearly every field.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

For younger women, short skirts and thigh high stockings seems to be the order of the day. Other than that, seems consistent with other large metropolitan cities, perhaps a bit dressier.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Very unhealthy. Better than Beijing, worse than anywhere in the U.S. or Europe. Expect difficulties with athsma if you've got it, and the Shanghai cough during winter months. Don't even think about swimming in local rivers or lakes - though walking on them might be an option. The impact of pollution on food sources is a constant worry.

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2. What immunizations are required each year?

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3. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Shanghai is incredibly safe. Video cameras are ever present in all public places, and probably in "private" ones also. We leave our doors unlocked with confidence and our son runs free in the neighborhood without concern.

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4. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Many and varied. Food safety is a major issue that is, and should be, a constant worry. Air quality means sore throats and persistant cough. Overcrowding means lots of opportunity for passing of colds and flus. My family spent much of the winter sick, with several hospital visits. Medical care is fair. There are two Western Clinics (Parkay and Shanghai United) that do a good job, but are expensive. For other than routine issues, I'd go to Hong Kong though.

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5. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot in summer, nice in fall in spring, cool in winter. Reminds me of Washington DC.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The two main schools are Shanghai American School and Shanghai Community International School. Both offer outstanding facilities, good activities for the kids and good leadership. SAS has a reputation for being slightly more academically rigorous (some would say unhealthily competitive) and SCIS for being a bit more tolerant of kids who move often (some would say coddling). We're in SCIS and find it to be as good as high quality U.S. public schools in curriculum, and better in facilities.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Mixed, but it can be done. Don't expect the same level of care as in the U.S. with the No Child Left Behind Act and the ADA. However, things can get done if you work with the schools long enough.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

There are several good preschools available, and have had friends with kids in Rainbow Bridge International School, and loved it. There are several other very good options also. Excellent choices also include hiring a local ayi (nanny). We have one who is outstanding with kids.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Everything. Active Kids Shanghai has some excellent programs, as do the schools. Lots of opportunities, which is a good thing, because there is little green space for unscheduled play.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Huge. Absolutely gigantic. Probably 50,000 Americans alone, and another 50,000 from EUR/CAN/AUS. Heaven knows how many Korean, Japanese and Taiwanese expats there are.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good, just don't talk about pollution, food safety or internet quality and all is rosy. Other than that Shanghai is world-class and expats have a very comfortable life.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Unlimited.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

For singles, outstanding. One could spend 10 years here and not run out of things to do. For couples, great schools and tons of interesting cultural opportunities and activities for kids, as well as a safe environment. If not for constant illnesses and fear of what is in the air/food/water, it would be perfect for kids.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

There is, surprisingly, a gay scene here. It is quiet, but Shanghai is a doable place for gay or lesbian expats.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

People from the countryside are looked down upon as uncouth, and some don't like the "lao wai" (westerners/outsiders). But by and large, Shanghai is a pretty cosmopolitan place that is pretty accepting. Religious tolerance is a trickier issue. There are many churches in Shanghai open to Westerners, but there are controls on local practice of religion, and of Western prosthelytization.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

More than you could do in a lifetime. Its a fascinating place, with lots of great places for day trips (Suzhou, Hangzhou), great museums, some of the best shopping in the world, just anything you can want is here.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Tailored clothing, pearls, high quality furniture.

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9. Can you save money?

Not really. Too much to buy, too many trips to take. Even if you try to save, cost of Western groceries and supplies will get you.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes. It is one of the worlds most amazing cities. If they'd clean up the air and food, free the internet, and get rid of 5 million people or so, it might be the #1. Safety, schooling, housing, restaurants, museums, day trip options, nightlife, shopping, work opportunities, and more are all wonderful.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Sense of privacy, preconceived notions about communist China, love of plants and your healthy lungs.

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3. But don't forget your:

High quality home air purifiers, sense of history, chinese phrase book.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Empire of the Sun; Shanghai Kiss.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

Empire of the Sun; Shanghai Kiss.

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Lust, Caution, Shanghai Kiss, Kung Fu Hustle,Shanghai Triad, Empire of the Sun, Shanghai Express, Fist of Fury.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

It is amazing to compare the China of 30 years ago to the China of today, and the rebuilding of Shanghai during that time is one of the great feats in all of history. The success of Deng Xiaoping's economic policies are seen especially in Shanghai, and the result is a city that is close to an expat's dream. Close only because the downsides of China's development are also so plainly on display:lack of care for the environment being among the most significant.

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Shanghai, China 06/29/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

First.

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2. How long have you lived here?

4 months.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I work for the U.S. Consulate General.

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4. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

From Europe, not really sure. Many flights come from the U.S. West Coast, Chicago, and now Atlanta.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Housing tends to be very nice depending on who is paying for it. If you are here with a foreign government then you will either live in very very nice apartments in the heart of the city, or live in a large villa about 30min-1hr commute from downtown.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Everything. Although, one may have to pay more for imported goods. There are major Western super-stores here though: CarreFour, Wal-Mart, Tesco, Metro etc.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

None.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Just about everything in terms of fast food. Shanghai is also quickly becoming a gourmand's paradise, as many world renowned chefs are opening restaurants here.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Well since I have access to APO, I don't really know. :)

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Cheap--but getting more expensive. I pay about US$45 for 16 hours of work. So less than US$3 an hour--and my maid is very good. With that said, you can get it cheaper, I know some people that pay less than US$2 an hour. If you want an English speaking maid, you'll pay more.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

You can use credit cards most places, and ATM machines are widely available. With that said, be careful about using your credit card as the ENTIRE CREDIT CARD NUMBER will stay on both copies of the receipt.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

Shanghai has tons of foreigners and many restaurants, stores, bars etc that cater to the expat community. With that said, the more Chinese you can speak and understand, the easier your life will be.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

HAHA. A LOT. It's hard enough to walk in this city with no physical disabilities. China is still a developing country and the idea of access for physically diabled people has not yet manifested iteslf.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Just like in the US/France/Germany.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Yes, very. Although they can get extremely crowded. Also, you will have to beat people to get on and off--no one will wait.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Don't have one, but unless you live out in the villas, you won't need to drive. Driving here is insane. I have been to some third world countries where I thought the driving was bad, but BY FAR Chinese driving takes the cake.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, service is not bad. It's about US$40 a month.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Buy any unlocked triband GSM phone and get a local sim card. Txt messages and local calls are pretty cheap.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

I suggest getting some sort of VOIP.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Yes/no--depending on your skills.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Work: business formal. Public: depends on the venue, ranges from casual to trendy/chic.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Unhealthy to very unhealthy depending on weather/season.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

None really, except for the occasional pick-pocket. Your biggest security concern will be the same people that protect you (Chinese Government).

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Well the air can be pretty bad. There are a few Western style medical facilities that cater to the expat community.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Cold in the winter--extremely hot and humid in the summer.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

No children--but my colleagues tell me that the Shanghai American School is very good.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

HUGE.

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2. Morale among expats:

Pretty high.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Tons, lots of bars, clubs, parties etc.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

I would say it's excellent for everyone. Couples and families as well as singles won't get too bored in their spare time. Shanghai is a huge city that's constantly changing. I don't see how anyone would be bored here.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Well, it's not the best, but at the same time it's not the worst. There are some gay bars and clubs that are always lively. Eventually, however, one will see that the crowd is the same, and because of the transient expat community and the cultural differences with the locals--one might find it hard to have a prolonged relationship.

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

Some people might stare, but nothing too abrasive.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Clubs, bars, more clubs... New skyscrapers in Pudong, a few museums, the old Shikumen houses, shopping, eating... HOWEVER, this is not traditional China.. Before the British arrived in 1842 Shanghai was a sleepy backwater--and thus there wasn't much here in terms of culture. None-the-less, Shanghai has plenty to do, it's also not far from other important tourist sites like Hangzhou and Suzhou.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Pearls, fabrics, custom tailored clothes, antiques, going out..

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9. Can you save money?

Maybe, depending on who your employer is and if you pay for housing or not.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

No. While Shanghai is definitely and easy hardship post, it lacks charm and personality. The people are cold and sometimes downright mean. Some foreigners can handle the pushing and the shoving, the screaming; and the overall lack of regard for human life. This is mostly because they are blinded by greed as Shanghai is experiencing a modern day gold rush--and most expats think they are going to come here and make it big. The total absence of congeniality really wears on me. I can handle charos, but a smile or a please, or a thank you would be nice. There is no word for 'excuse me' in the Chinease language.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Well whatever you don't need because you can probably get it in Shanghai.

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3. But don't forget your:

Patience. Lots and lots of it.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

Empire of the Sun--the last major Western picture made before Shanghai was changed forever.

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Well, you can read what I wrote above. Shanghai is not a bad place to live, but I will be happy to leave; and never come back. If Shanghai is the future of China, and China's the future--then I've seen the future and I'm ready to go home.

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