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Moving to Shanghai from the US - What You Need to Know About

Wednesday, May 17, 2023
The Oriental Pearl Tower between modern buildings in Shanghai during the day

The call of Shanghai may be in your ear and there is a good reason for you to feel like moving to Shanghai. Shanghai offers a lot of opportunities for jobs, lifestyle and certainly a change of culture. The city is a mixture of modern attractions and old culture fitting together like a 3D puzzle. China’s global financial hub and one of its largest cities can give you a lot to do. Not only in your working life but your expat one as well. There are a lot of expats and foreigners making Shanghai their new home.

Things to Know Before Moving to Shanghai

A Chinese girl with a smile welcoming guests to her home with fortune cookies

Before you start your moving to Shanghai process it is always a wise idea to do some research about the country you aim to live in. Shanghai can give many Americans culture shock which is standard when it comes to moving to a new continent. Plus, there is also the language barrier (Mandarin Chinese) for you to overcome. Best to start taking lessons now just to make your future life easier.

Moving Family to Shanghai

Two asian woman walking by the traditional chinese lights

When it comes to the education system of Shanghai it would be a great idea to get your children to learn Mandarin beforehand if you are thinking of moving your family to Shanghai. If they know and understand the basics of Chinese, then you can register them at a local school for free for the first grade. If you want them to learn a British or American curriculum you would have to aim for an international school, obviously.  

However, if you are planning on studying in Shanghai then you are looking at about $1000 to $1500 for higher education. But, there are a lot of state programs that aim to allow local as well as international students to study for free. Research on what is required to apply for such programs.  

Outside of education, you would also want to familiarize yourself with the cost of living as well as real estate in Shanghai. The latter is fairly high where one square meter is around about $15 000 in the city. But, it is twice as cheap in the suburbs.  

The average monthly salary is about $1500 and this is why a lot of people (local, expats, and international) often opt to rent. Rent in Shanghai depends on the location where in the city center it can be about $1000 whereas in the suburbs it is half that price at $500. Speak to a professional to get the facts straight before signing any leases or contracts.

Moving to Shanghai for Work

A chinese business team working together

An expat moving to Shanghai could have a lot of reasons to do so. However, the main ones are usually job-related. Shanghai is following the whole of China’s trend by attracting people from all over to move to Shanghai. This is so their local economy can develop more. Hence, making Shanghai one of the largest centers in the world when it comes to finance.  

Obviously, depending on your field will indicate the salary. While the average is about $1500 you can also apply for jobs that could earn you $2000. Such as that of doctors, teachers, construction and building expats, and other types of medical workers.  

The banking and finance sectors in Shanghai make banks with a salary of about $4000 to $5000 monthly if you are an IT expert or a scientist. Regardless of your field, it is best to apply for a job in Shanghai before moving to China. There are some English-speaking positions available but these are not as common as they were years back. Therefore, you would want to have a good understanding of Mandarin to get a better foot in the door.

Chinese Visas for Shanghai

A busy street in China with people walking toward the temples with trees covered with chinese lights

As with moving to any international country, you would need a visa. And, there are a few you can apply for. There are different types such as an L visa. This is the one that is used for tourists or private visitors aiming for a short stay. Long enough to go to check out the schools and flat hunting.  

However, if you want to stay longer aka live in Shanghai then you will need an F visa. The latter is valid for half a year but it will require a letter of invitation from a Chinese contact (such as a spouse) or an academic institution (higher education) or from a Chinese-based business (hence why you would want to apply for a job before you move).  

F visas are also used for short business trips, language-learning holidays, or academic research projects. You should visit your nearest Chinese Embassy to get more information about the process of applying for any type of Chinese visa as well as to know which documents are required.  

If you want to learn in Shanghai for a few years then you would have to apply for the Z visa type. It is a long application process so you would have to plan well ahead and find out exactly what you need as well as what to expect. The first step would be to have your future workplace of employment to obtain an Employment License from the Shanghai Administrative Center for Employment of Foreigners.  

You would have to send your future company the necessary documents to start this process. Also, you must ask them if they need the originals, copies, certified translations, how many of each, etc.  

Also, you would have to include an updated health certificate for your six-month stay in Shanghai. This will include testing for STDs, chest X-rays, medical checkups etc. When you have your Z visa you would have to register with the Shanghai police within 2 hours of your arrival to Shanghai. There is also the R visa which is used for the recruitment of senior-level professionals with certain skills that China needs. It would be a good idea to see if your skill matches what they are looking for. 

Chinese Work Permits and Residence

 Coworkers in Shanghai office working together

After 30 days of living in Shanghai, you would have to change your Chinese visa to a Residence permit. This can take up to 15 days so you would want to start this process after two weeks of living in Shanghai. The documents you will need are:

  • Passport and other travel documents
  • Biometric information such as fingerprints and more
  • Supporting personal documents and photographs of yourself
  • Valid health certificate that is over a year old
  • Work permit

Moving to Shanghai with Shyft

Red temple in Shanghai surrounded with mountains and nature

If you are an American moving to Shanghai, then you would probably want some help with the moving process. Who wouldn’t? Well, you are merely a click away from getting help where all you have to do is get in touch with Shyft (and that’s the click). Shyft is the world’s first tech-driven moving platform that will organize your whole moving journey for you from helping you find the right international moving company to even more. Check out our site to see what we do, how we do it, and what else we offer.  

How we work is that you reach out to us through the short form on our site, or our free-to-download mobile app Shyft Next. The app works on both Apple and Android devices. You tell us when you want us to call you through Shyft Next, which is also a secure app. This call can be whenever you are free and on whatever day you want. Although, we would advise the sooner the better and to have about half an hour to an hour for the meeting.

Four people sitting down for a traditional chinese meal with ramen, rice and meat

It is a video chat where you are introduced to your Move Coach where you can get more information, ask questions, and be in the know. Furthermore, it is during this very first meeting that your Move Coach will create your inventory list. Hence, why the meeting is usually about half an hour long on average and depending on how big your current home is. You give your Move Coach a virtual tour, showing the inside of a draw or two. They will not step foot into your current home, saving you a lot of time. 

When the tour is done, and the meeting is over, your Move Coach will send you the inventory list within half an hour. This will be a 95% accurate inventory list. And, you can check the list through the app. You can add items, remove items, as well as leave notes on stuff. When you have made your 100% accurate inventory list, you will send it to your Move Coach.

Finding International Moving Companies

Traditional chinese street food with people buying fried meat on sticks

This 100% accurate inventory list along with only your moving information (no personal ones) will be presented to Shyft’s secure moving board. Here is where moving companies that are both local, interstate, and international gather to bid on moving projects. Yours will be added to the list. When this process is done, we collect three or more moving quotes as well as information about the moving companies. Each quote comes from a different company giving you a variety to choose from. You decide which mover to work with.  

And, you can contrast prices, services, etc. of all the movers on the Shyft Next app.  

When you decide which is the best international moving company for you, you let your Move Coach know. They will lock down that moving company straight away. Plus, the moving company can also aid you with customs and all the international moving questions you may have.  

We are not done. Throughout the Shyft moving process, you can reach out to us seven days a week. As in whenever you have a question or wish to raise a concern. Furthermore, you can also check in on the progress with us. We will help you plan your entire move as well as make sure that your items are delivered to your new home in Shanghai. Also, we may help you to make sure that your papers are in order but it is always best to speak to an expert on this matter. As well as what types of visas there are for you to apply for.  

To learn more about what Shyft does, check out our site or contact us today. Shanghai is waiting for you and let your adventure begin sooner than later. 

Shanghai by night with shiny lights of modern architecture

Moving Long Distance with Shyft