China Expat & Travel Blogger. ATTRACTIONS & THINGS TO DO IN CHINA. See My Fun TRAVEL Adventures in China!
Planning on moving to Shanghai, China? Well, before you take that giant leap make sure to check out my list of 15 important things you should do after moving to Shanghai. Here goes …
Carry Copies of Passport & Address in English and Chinese
This is the FIRST thing you should do. You'll always want to carry your copy in case of emergencies and times you may need to prove your identity. By the way, you'll need to bring your real passport to buy tickets at the train station. As for your address, make sure to have it written on a small paper AND saved in your phone in English and Chinese.
Register With Your Embassy
The US State Department Website allows American citizens to register their travel information with local US embassies when they are moving or traveling abroad. In case of emergencies, it's a good idea to let the embassy know your personal info, along with where you are staying, who you’re working for, and how long you intend to stay. For non-US citizens, try checking your embassy’s website for this type of service.
Know Where You’re At
Shanghai is an absolutely massive city, which means that you’ll undoubtedly hear people talking about or inviting you over to different parts of town that you’ve never heard of. First, I’d say familiarize yourself with the locations of Puxi, Pudong, Hongkou, Yangpu and the Huangpu River. After that, work on remembering the other districts, and of course, keep a map of Shanghai’s subway on your phone.
Get a VPN
VPNs are lifesavers. China’s Great Firewall blocks many popular websites and apps in the West such as Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Twitter, and Google. It'll do you good to have access to family, friends, information, and entertainment back at home. Popular VPNs in China are ExpressVPN and Astril.
This is a no-brainer. WeChat is China's most popular mobile app. You can make calls, send messages, share pictures, and even pay bills and tabs using its WeChat Pay function. This is also another FIRST that you'll need to do once you've landed in China.
In Shanghai a metro card gives you access to the subway, bus, and ferries. Heck, you can even use it to take the Maglev—the world's fastest, active commercial train—to the airport. Having one will make your life much easier.
Bike-sharing has taken over Shanghai since the latter half of last year. Popular bike sharing companies like Mobike and Ofo have riddled the streets with bikes that can be ridden and placed nearly anywhere across the city. Oh yeah, Shanghai has electric bicycles, too! Registering with a bike-sharing app is the best thing you can do after arriving in Shanghai. Of course, you'll need to pay a fee.
Join WeChat Groups
One of the perks of having WeChat is that you can potentially access groups that are catered to expats, interests, dating, you name it. Once you've downloaded Wechat, ask your friends to invite you to groups pertaining to your home country, for instance, expats in the city your in, job advertisements, the whole works.
You want to know one of the reasons why living in China is so great? Delivery services baby! WaiMai is a popular food delivery mobile app. All you have to do is put in your address in Chinese and then you'll have access to dozens of restaurants of all types in your area. You can order and pay using the app and your food will be delivered to you within the hour. You don't need to leave your house!
Follow Shanghai Accounts on Social Media
There are a BOATLOAD of expat-centered organizations that cover any and everything about Shanghai from news, lifestyle, and events, to entertainment, business, and development. Popular organizations include Shanghai Expat, That's Shanghai, CityWeekend Shanghai, Timeout Shanghai, and Shanghaiist. Search for their websites and find them on Facebook. For my list of popular WeChat Official Subscription Accounts you should follow, check here.
You may want to consider hopping on a social/dating app shortly after you've arrived. It'll be a great option for you to meet people, connect with groups, and find love. Popular social/dating apps in China include Tan Tan, Tinder, and MoMo.
Join a Gym
Yes, yes, yes. Pumping iron, getting some good cardio in, and playing sports are all great ways to stay fit and mentally healthy after moving abroad. Tera Wellness, Will’s, Star Gym; Shanghai has loads of gyms at every turn. I’d say that you’d probably need to pay between 2500-3000rmb for a year. Be carful, though, they usually start off much higher.
Download Google Chrome
The Google Chrome internet browser has an excellent automatic translation function that can save you tons of trouble when activated. You’ll probably need to visit a Chinese website, ie Taobao, sooner or later, so make sure to do so using Google Chrome.
Download Google Translate
It's always good to have a translation app handy when moving around a country with a different language from yours. Shanghai is China's most international city; yet, with a population of 24 million and counting you'll still run into a lot of people that cannot speak a lick of English. Download Google Translate for assistance.
Download Google Maps
China itself does not have a local English map app or website for you to use when your lost. They have Baidu Maps—Google Map's equivalent—but it's all in Chinese. With that, prepare yourself for the unexpected. Download Google Maps to your phone ASAP. Oh yeah, you'll need a VPN to use it!
Head Over to the Barber Tools Market
So, maybe you've worried about how you will cut or do your hair living in Shanghai. You're not sure what the barbershops and salons are like and the worst thing you want to happen is to let a stranger screw up your style. Well, one thing you may consider is heading over to the Barbershop & Salon Tools Market in Puxi, just down the street from People's Square. They have hair clippers, curling irons, trimmers, straighteners, and more. Find out how to get to the Barbershop & Salon Tools Market in Shanghai here.
Go to the Bund
The Bund is the most magnificent place in Shanghai, period. It's busy, it's beautiful, it's awe-inspiring. Let it be one of the first major places you visit. I don’t want to say anymore; I’d rather you be surprised!
Well, there you have it! What do you think of my list? Do you live in Shanghai or in China and have any advice to offer for newbies? Let me know down below!
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