Xuhui covers most of the Former French Concession area that is popular with expats, young people, and artsy types. A lot of the old lanehouse architecture has been preserved and converted into trendy lofts and studio apartments. The streets are narrower than in other areas, making them conducive to long walks and bike rides. In fact, living in Xuhui means you can walk almost everywhere you need to go as many of the city’s best bars, restaurants, and shops are all here. Two of the prime real estate areas in Xuhui are located around the Changshu Lu and South Shaanxi metro stops.
West Nanjing also caters to expats with its wide array of western restaurants, but some of the quieter streets in this neighborhood have some great cheap local food options as well. You will find Shanghai’s first New York style pizza place, Joe’s Pizza, and trendy bar area Taikang Lu. The West Nanjing metro stop is on lines 2, 12, and 13, making this neighborhood a central location for almost any commuter. If you work east of the river (in Pudong), for instance, you can easily live at West Nanjing and take the 2 just a few stops.
Jing’an is the heart of the city, both geographically and socially. In fact, many of Shanghai’s young professionals work in Jing’an office buildings by day and party in Jing’an bars by night. There are still some apartments in this area that won’t break the bank. Check out the Yuyuan Lu/Jiangsu Lu area to find the best modestly priced highrise apartments.
People’s Square is more than just a tourist trap. Between the massage parlors and camera toting travelers, you’ll find cheap housing and delicious local eats. This neighborhood caters especially to students and interns. Here, you’ll often find cosmopolitan 5-8 person apartments where you can meet roommates from all over the world. The vibe here is energetic, with residents often taking a short walk east to the Bund for clubbing.
Suzhou Creek is a little off the beaten track which means that its wonders have yet to be exploited. This artsy neighborhood is home to many a private gallery as well as Instagrammable art street Moganshan Lu. Waterfront property typically means a high price tag, but not in Suzhou Creek. Here you’ll find spacious apartments with million dollar views of the Lujiazui skyline, all for cheaper than you ever thought possible.