-extremely safe – you never have to worry about violent or confrontational crimes on the street – everyone I know feels perfectly safe walking anywhere in the city at any time of day or night. The only crimes I see are stolen bicycles/scooters, but they do it when other people aren’t around.
-transportation is great – one of the biggest and best subways in the world, average cost is $0.50 per trip, tons of bus lines all over the city, $0.30 per ride no matter the distance. Taxis are extremely cheap for a big city – 14rmb ($2) for the first 2.5km, and 2rmb ($0.30) per extra km, no added cost to fill the taxi with 4 people. Didi (like Uber) is everywhere and you can pay only a bit more than that and have nice cars like Audi, BMW, and nicer Chinese made cars, which are really getting better and nicer everyday. When Uber was in Shanghai, my average cab cost was $3–4 using Uber black (hence why they sold off in China!).
-you can eat as cheap or as expensive as you’d like – you can eat cheaper Chinese food or street bbq and easily have a meal for $2–3, or you can try any of the nicer Chinese or foreign restaurants all over the city and pay as much as you want! There is a large variety of food options from all over the world.
-delivery services – I get groceries delivered (free delivery), 5 gallon water jugs, takeout from almost any restaurant in the city, and more… my roommate and I have found a french wine guy, an argentenian beef guy, a baker, a carpenter; all are willing to provide delivery services for little or nothing, and you can buy really great quality stuff for significantly cheaper than the grocery/retail stores. Last year my phone broke and a Chinese colleague ordered me a new Xiaomi phone while we were at work at 10am, and it arrived in the office around 1pm, free delivery.
-if you’re paying for something, the Chinese work really hard to do the job. They work quickly, they try very hard to understand your requests, they don’t argue or try to be difficult. You feel special as a customer.
-very international – I meet people from all over the world, with many different backgrounds, motivations, interests.
-extremely fast changing – buildings are going down and up constantly around the city. When shared bikes came on the scene 6 months ago, I saw 5–10 bikes one day, then a hundred the next day, then hundreds around the city within a week. Within a couple of months, you could see bikes from 4 or 5 different companies all over the city. I read there are more than 500,000 bikes in Shanghai after only 6 months since the first one landed in the street. One day, my colleague complained that she didn’t want to ride the ‘old style’ mobike, which had just come out a few months before. It’s exciting to see things change (mostly for the better) so quickly and constantly.
-the combination of communism and capitalism is powerful – this is a big reason why things can change so extremely fast.
-although people don’t really have any say in the government’s choices or actions, Chinese people seem to be pretty ok with it. I think that it’s because the standard of living and opportunities are increasing so fast – why complain when your life gets better and better everyday?
-clean and organized – for a city the size of Shanghai, it’s really impressive to see how clean and organized it is. Nice parks around the city with amazing landscaping, clean and wide sidewalks, bike/scooter dedicated lanes on the streets. The public bathrooms are much better than you’d expect.
You certainly don’t feel the history or old Chinese culture as much in Shanghai, but there are plenty of places in China you can experience it. Also, the more Chinese you can speak and read, your life becomes much easier and more fun in China!