Reply To: Moving to Shanghai with kids and pollution

Home Forums Moving to Shanghai with kids and pollution Reply To: Moving to Shanghai with kids and pollution


I just returned to my hermetically sealed apartment where I’m thinking about drinking some of the overpriced wine but am actually sipping green tea made with filtered water.

This is year four for me in China and year 13 as an expat. Each year brings a new level of WTF moments. Year one was way too interesting and so much to learn to just get by on day to day basis. I’d been living in the tropics and was put, by the company into an apartment that never got above 18 deg C but I’m sure it was much colder with the wind chill factor from the single glaze, not properly sealed windows. Now, my second place, is way better and I returned to a nice toasty 21 and on the way to 24 deg.

OP do not think China is an inexpensive place to live, some things are cheap but if you can stomach living more like a local and less like an expat in a bubble then it might be a low cost city.

On a positive note, for me:

The orchestra is very inexpensive, if you buy the lowest price tickets as soon as they are on sale. Not just Shanghai Symphony but orchestra’s from around the world, Berliner Philharmonic and London Symphony as well as world class visiting artists. Of course one has to adapt to the behaviour of the audience, 5 percent will be playing on their phones, filming or taking photos or playing games in ipads during the performances. Less often the talking, but still happens, a person decides to have a chat to their companion not a whisper but an audible talk.

Chamber orchestra’s are fairly regular, at least once a month and the one at M on The Bund attracts a well behaved audience.

Literary festival:

Also at M on The Bund has been going for the past 12 years.

For three weekends and two weeks at the beginning of March there is a fabulous cultural event, in a pleasant location on the river with an educated crowd of multi national. The speakers are also multinationals and they have quite the selection non fiction and fiction as well as other related arts fields like architecture and film.

It is the singular event that makes my year memorable.

Art galleries:

There is lame derivative stuff in “galleries” around the tourist traps but there are also art gallery areas and public exhibition spaces that are of international class and a program of contemporary exhibitions moving through the spaces on a regular basis.


Some of the best meals I’ve ever had have been at a handful of 5 star restaurants with 7 star prices. I’ve paid way too much for mediocre here as well as the staler moments, brilliant meal with great company.


You will meet the most amusing people who have a bit of an edge, highly intelligent, to say the least.

I think China attracts slightly bent individuals or it makes them that way.

Family life:

If you have a good family life and solid marriage you can make something positive of this from a family perspective. Families are not in the minority, certainly not where I live, the place is thick with families. If your marriage is on shaky grounds you probably wont want to come to China. There are forces here that will be the tipping point if your marriage is not solid.


Fake but toxic spirits and crap wines poured into great bottles, I’ve had my fill to the point where I not longer drink out unless it is a regular place and I know it will most likely be what I ordered. The prices are ridiculous. Keep your booze at home, once you find a good wine merchant. Bring it back with you from trips home.

Medical cover:

I have good cover that I do not use but the entire expat medical cover and medical facilities are hugely overpriced and prescription drug pushing operations. I go to the docs for checkups and the like when I am home. The three times I’ve been in four years here have been for things that could not wait. The families I work with make more trips and seem happy with the services and their cover.


Ayi, most families have help in the form of one or two ayi. They clean, mind children, pay bills and cook for the family. I found the experience annoying so prefer to do these things myself but anyone with children find the cost worth the breakages and ruined clothing.


Some people have drivers, some have scooters. The roads are insane. I have been clipped, gashed by a scooter, I am lucky there have been far worse accidents to those at work or connected to work.

The driving test, multiple choice, is a hoot.

Our case studies

Featured case studies