What to take to Shanghai

Old Jan 29th 2014, 5:16 am
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Default What to take to Shanghai

Me and family - husband and three boys - will be moving to Shanghai in a few months. I think we have a furnished apartment provided, and we will bring a few suitcases with us. What would anyone recommend we take with us? Is there anything in particular that is hard to get or expensive to buy? Is there anything you brought with you and didn't need - or didn't bring and wished you had?
Thanks
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Old Feb 20th 2014, 4:35 pm
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Default Re: What to take to Shanghai

SH is really Westernised and you can find most stuff from home already there.
I've been told HK is cheaper for luxury shopping though e.g. watches, electronics etc.
Be prepared for lots of stares.
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 9:02 am
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Default Re: What to take to Shanghai

Shanghai still suffers from a lack of English translations on goods in the supermarkets and certain things that you're used to sometimes can't be found, even in the big stores like Carrefour.

I've just bought the same shampoo that I've been using for 4 years, the contents colour and smell are both different!
The Axe / Lynx deodorant I used to use can't be bought here too.
Coffee is 3-4 times more expensive than they UK, so if you like some expresso at home, put a few of those in your suitcase.
Decent jam is a little hard to get, and I just found a decent supply in... IKEA!
Marmite? If you're a fan, bring some.
Bread - difficult to find some decent stuff, even Yamazaki bread is not the same here in Shanghai as it is in other countries. Maybe bring your bread-maker if you want to.
CD/DVD - don't bring any of those with you. Millions of copies here, or as most people do, download them. Burn anything you want to keep onto your Mac/PC. :-)

Cheers! MP
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 9:22 am
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Default Re: What to take to Shanghai

thank you - really helpful replies.
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 10:57 am
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Default Re: What to take to Shanghai

Forget the big stuff, it's cheaper here in SH. Electrical goods are also cheap locally but any electronics you should bring or buy in HK, one because it's cheaper and two because if you buy in China you may have to deal with local operating systems, firmware and so on.
If you and your family insist on a Western diet, then the other thing to bring is as much of the food you normally eat as you can carry or ship, bearing in mind customs restrictions on fresh produce etc. As mentioned above, premium coffee is 3-4 times UK prices, and across a wide range of regular western packaged goods import duties make double the price the norm.
I disagree with the comment about bread above; in my experience, in the right area of Shanghai you can find a wide range of good artisan bread, but at a price - a rye loaf, for example, may cost you up to US$5-6
Lastly, if you're in the French Concession you'll surely hear of the "Avocado Lady" sooner or later.

Last edited by pfffill; Feb 23rd 2014 at 11:02 am.
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Old Feb 23rd 2014, 1:55 pm
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Default Re: What to take to Shanghai

Originally Posted by pfffill View Post
Forget the big stuff, it's cheaper here in SH. Electrical goods are also cheap locally but any electronics you should bring or buy in HK, one because it's cheaper and two because if you buy in China you may have to deal with local operating systems, firmware and so on.
If you and your family insist on a Western diet, then the other thing to bring is as much of the food you normally eat as you can carry or ship, bearing in mind customs restrictions on fresh produce etc. As mentioned above, premium coffee is 3-4 times UK prices, and across a wide range of regular western packaged goods import duties make double the price the norm.
I disagree with the comment about bread above; in my experience, in the right area of Shanghai you can find a wide range of good artisan bread, but at a price - a rye loaf, for example, may cost you up to US$5-6
Lastly, if you're in the French Concession you'll surely hear of the "Avocado Lady" sooner or later.
pfffill - Appreciate any recommendations for decent bread that you've found!
Although my Wife just bought a bread maker today, after she and her family are so disappointed with what's turned out of Tesco and Carrefour these days.

Cheers!
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Old Feb 24th 2014, 12:00 am
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Default Re: What to take to Shanghai

Monster - of course to some extent it depends where you'll live, but here are one or two suggestions: the "Baker and Spice" bakers and coffee shops have a wide range of breads - at a price: http://www.bakerandspice.com.cn/. As mentioned above, the Yamazaki chain has passable French-style bread, and at much more reasonable prices. The same goes for Ichido, much the same style. There are lots of individual micro-bakeries in the expat-frequented areas - French Concession, Hongqiao, Jinqiao in Pudong.
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Old Feb 24th 2014, 4:19 am
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Default Re: What to take to Shanghai

Thanks again - few more questions -

Can you buy bread-makers / toasters / cafetieres at a reasonable price?

And how would you say the prices compare at the IKEA in Shanghai to the ones in the UK - fairly similar, assuming you are earning a similar wage to the UK?

Thanks for your help!
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Old Feb 24th 2014, 4:45 am
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Default Re: What to take to Shanghai

Marooned - the items you mention can all be bought locally. I would say no need to bring them unless you are particularly attached to them in some way. Local brands you will find cheap, some are reliable, some less so, so it's a matter of becoming familiar with good brands. Imported brands will be expensive.
As for Ikea, I have no knowledge of their UK prices, but the few times I've used the SH branch, I've found them pretty reasonable, so my sense again is, buy locally and sell on when you leave. A propos which, have a look at http://enjoyshanghai.com/buy-sell/.
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Old Feb 24th 2014, 7:25 am
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Default Re: What to take to Shanghai

Originally Posted by pfffill View Post
Monster - of course to some extent it depends where you'll live, but here are one or two suggestions: the "Baker and Spice" bakers and coffee shops have a wide range of breads - at a price: http://www.bakerandspice.com.cn/. As mentioned above, the Yamazaki chain has passable French-style bread, and at much more reasonable prices. The same goes for Ichido, much the same style. There are lots of individual micro-bakeries in the expat-frequented areas - French Concession, Hongqiao, Jinqiao in Pudong.
pfffill - Thanks for the tips!
Yamazaki has reduced in quality over the years here I've noticed, and too the size of their loaves. Pick them up in Thailand and you'll notice a big difference.

In the meantime, my Wife is now happily making her second loaf of bread in the new bread-maker that was delivered yesterday! Happily approved by the Chinese in-laws! :-)
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Old Feb 24th 2014, 7:33 am
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Default Re: What to take to Shanghai

Marooned - The bread-maker my Wife just bought was 320rmb, but that was on Taobao, you'll need to be able to read Mandarin fluently to use it, unless you have a helpful friend. Otherwise, the same model is 500rmb in the supermarket.

Agree with pfffill that you shouldn't really bring too much stuff that you might have already worn through a bit. The only thing I brought over was my microwave oven 9 years ago, and its still working happily today despite daily use and moving country four times.

IKEA somehow keeps its prices fairly even compared with UK I've noticed. Even in Thailand I was quite surprised, as they have heavy import tax.

Regarding "assuming you are earning a similar wage to the UK?" - hopefully you're being compensated properly by your company to fit in with salaries out here to cover the higher costs of living, in general. If not signed on the dotted line yet, good luck with your negotiations! :-)
Welcome to Shanghai in the coming months!
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Old Feb 27th 2014, 7:01 am
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Default Re: What to take to Shanghai

Thanks again - good to know you can buy all the essentials quite easily and cheaply - - but now you've made me nervous! Is the cost of living higher than the UK? - looking at Numbeo and similar websites, it came out as much lower!
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Old Mar 1st 2014, 3:13 am
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Default Re: What to take to Shanghai

Morning Mrs Marooned! :-)

First of all, also see the other thread in this section - "A Patient Roadmap to China". Separate questions, but also some useful tips for you.

In order to maybe address your question about salary and costs more specifically, could I ask a few questions?

1) I notice your location says New Zealand, so are you coming from there or from the UK? Which city?
2) Is it just your Husband who has the employment contract here, or do you have one too? Which industry and role level?
3) How old are your boys? Do the need schooling? Is the company covering that as well as your housing?
4) You say you have your housing covered. What budget has been given to cover this? Note that the rental and the cost of utilities can be claimed back against tax by the company. Hence its common here for a company to sign the contract with the landlord which relieves you of a massive headache here.

Take a look at the following websites, which are generally the bibles for finding places to go in Shanghai and will also give you an idea of costs:-

http://online.thatsmags.com/city/shanghai
http://www.smartshanghai.com/
http://www.cityweekend.com.cn/shanghai/
http://www.shanghaiexpat.com/

For a guide on rental costs try:-
http://www.joannarealestate.com.cn/shanghai/

Overall, Shanghai is definitely more expensive than the UK. However, when you have certain cost covered, and you don't have any car, then you will be spending in different ways. I imagine that you will be going through your RMB very quickly in the first couple of months whilst you get used to things.
Unless you can read and speak Mandarin fluently, then you will not be eating in Chinese restaurants, unless you're lucky to find one with pictures. Also, Chinese food in Shanghai, is totally different to what you find outside of the country!
So, going out IS very expensive. I met an old friend the other night who is new to Shanghai, he had been living in Hong Kong for a few years, but never in China. Not surprisingly, he came out with the usual shocks and surprises anyone new here will tell. We went to the Paulaner pub, ordered two 300ml beers, and two dishes to share. Four slices of ham with mashed potato and sour-crout, 6 pieces of steak bbq, with some fries on the side and sour-crout (its a German pub - haha).... Total: 433RMB. Not cheap for a light dinner and two beers. The beers were priced at 75RMB each.
Then we went to another bar a few steps away, ordered the same beer, but it came in 500ml glasses. Price - 80RMB each + tax. Divide by 10 to roughly get Sterling. I bet you don't usually pay 8 quid a pint in the UK, not even in London.

In general, beer prices are anywhere between 45RMB to 85RMB a pint. The saving trick is to start early and get the happy hours for 20-25RMB.
If you like cocktails, then don't be surprised at paying 120RMB+.

Taxis are cheap in Shanghai and start at 13rmb, or 18rmb after I think 11pm.
The Metro system is cheap too. You can buy transportation cards which can be used in the taxis also for convenience. You just top them up with money at the train station with as much as you wish. Google for Shanghai Metro 2013, you'll see how extensive the Metro system is, and there are more lines to come, I believe 21 in total being planned.

Let me know your answers to the above and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

Cheers!
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Old Mar 3rd 2014, 6:10 am
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Default Re: What to take to Shanghai

Hi MonsterP -

thanks so much for your reply - loads of useful info there. I've had a look at some of the sites and things don't look too bad.

We are in NZ atm, but are brits so still tend to compare prices to british prices. NZ actually is very expensive for groceries and consumer goods.

As regards our situation in Shanghai - the accommodation is covered by the company, as are the boys' school fees. There are also a few payments towards utilities, relocation etc included in the package.

With 3 kids we don't go out that much - its usually an early family dinner rather than a night in the pub! After tax, we should have about 25000cny per month to play with. This is assuming I don't also get a job (possible as I'm a primary school teacher). Hoping it will be enough to eat, drink (mostly a few beers at home), play and holiday!
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Old Mar 3rd 2014, 6:44 am
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Default Re: What to take to Shanghai

Originally Posted by marooned5 View Post
Hi MonsterP -

thanks so much for your reply - loads of useful info there. I've had a look at some of the sites and things don't look too bad.

We are in NZ atm, but are brits so still tend to compare prices to british prices. NZ actually is very expensive for groceries and consumer goods.

As regards our situation in Shanghai - the accommodation is covered by the company, as are the boys' school fees. There are also a few payments towards utilities, relocation etc included in the package.

With 3 kids we don't go out that much - its usually an early family dinner rather than a night in the pub! After tax, we should have about 25000cny per month to play with. This is assuming I don't also get a job (possible as I'm a primary school teacher). Hoping it will be enough to eat, drink (mostly a few beers at home), play and holiday!
Hi Mrs M!

OK, fair that you're comparing with the UK. I've been non-resident for nearly 9 years, and I still make comparisons to the UK, maybe because of a potential return one day in the future.

Perhaps take your cost of groceries as the same as NZ then, and use that as a guiding start. Anything that costs less is therefore a bonus!

Frankly regarding clothing - unless you pick up things cheap on Taobao (using a helpful Chinese friend), or in the markets, then you're better off buying in the UK or similar, especially during UK sales. Quality and pricing are much better in the UK, sounds stupid when the stuff is all made here, but its not made for the local market.

Good that the school fees are covered, as that will cost the company around 220,000 - 300,000 RMB per year for each child!
Utilities should be an expense claim against the cost, and the rental contract should be signed by the company so that they take any hits regarding changes in exchange rates, landlords price increases, etc. I hope you have a budget there of 20,000rmb at least, preferably 30,000rmb.
Relocation back to NZ should be included too, as you say - good.
What about your medical & travel cover? The company should cover that fully too for your Husband, and the family.
I expect you have your flights home included too.

With all the above covered by the company, then you should be ok. You didn't mention your Husband's role, but 25,000rmb after tax is pretty low for an expat, although you do have most of your expenses covered. As a guide, a young, single, manager in his late 20's-early 30's would earn that here in Shanghai, and there are lots of them!

As you'll be fairly homely, I guess you will get through 15-20,000rmb each month.

Welcome to Shanghai! Its not all bad, but try to live very centrally as mentioned, to feel a little of the colonial side to keep some sanity.
If I'm still here when you arrive, I'd be happy to drag my other half along for an 8 quid pint if you're paying ;-)
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