New In Town

By Lynn Yen 2024-04-28 16:22:25

Meet the city's latest arrivals

Who is that new family in the neighborhood? And have you met the new kids in school?

Our city has seen an influx of new people in the past year. Of course, we are curious to get to know the neighbors that just moved in down the street. We caught up with three such families to hear how they have settled in and what they think of the city. Even as Shanghai enters a new era, the funny, awkward and joyful experience of the newly-arrived expat is enduringly relatable. To all the fresh faces in town, we welcome you!



Nationality: Max is Australian, I am from Mexico City and the kids are American.
Hobbies: yoga, exercise, history and meeting new people.
Latest Shanghai-ism: My kids learnt Chinese in Australia and my daughter always used to say “hen hao chi,” and I thought that meant hello. As I greeted everyone in Shanghai, I constantly repeated that phrase, until my daughter told me I kept calling everyone “delicious.”


Tell us about your decision to move to Shanghai.
I must start saying this wasn’t my decision. My husband works for Ford Motor Company and they needed him here. At the beginning I really didn’t want to come, I was afraid of not being happy. It took us two years to make up our minds that we were all in. I am a believer that life puts you where you need to be and here we are, having the time of our lives. We were living in Melbourne and my fear was the language and the difference of culture. Little did I know how fantastic this was going to be! How fresh, exciting and beautiful are the streets of Shanghai and overall the amazing and welcoming people. Yes, it’s completely different than what I was used to, this makes things more interesting. Sometimes I pinch myself while I walk around Fuxing Park and appreciate this ancient culture. It’s so refreshing to the senses; people doing tai chi in the morning, the smell of delicious jianbing, “aunties” dancing with colorful fans and children playing.

What industry is your work in? How long do you plan to stay?
My husband is a car designer so he works for the automotive industry and I am a yoga teacher. We will stay at least for two years, then will see what happens.

How are you settling in?

I’m so surprised I am settling so well! I’ve lived abroad for almost half of my life. I’ve lived in France, the US, Australia and now Shanghai, but never in my life have I found a group of women that are so supportive to other women. When
we came to find a school, I met a girl that told me about Shanghai Mamas, which I joined. Since day one, any question you have they have a group chat for that. They are all willing to help in everything they can; from a handyman to an incredible party. If you’re willing and open you will notice that people will make space for you in their houses, their agendas and their hearts. Expats and Shanghainese people are always up for a good time.

How did you choose where to live and what school to attend?
My husband had some friends living in Shanghai before and they told us about schools. We needed a school that had International Baccalaureate and also, that wasn’t far away from our home. Wellington College had everything we needed. We chose Xintiandi to live because it’s so beautiful, a mixed of old Shanghai and modern architecture.



Nationality: American
Hobbies: traveling, crafting, interior design, dance
Latest Shanghai-ism: Before our relocation, I met with an acquaintance who recently moved from Shanghai to Singapore. We set up my WeChat account, and she insisted on adding me to different groups, emphasizing their value for seeking help upon my arrival. One group caught my attention– "Dog Moms." Puzzled, as we don't have any pets, I hesitated to join. It wasn't until I caught up with my acquaintance that the mystery unraveled. With a laugh, I realized that the group was for moms whose kids were born in the year of the dog! We still laugh about this every time that we talk. Sometimes, cultural nuances can lead to delightful surprises!


Tell us about your decision to move to Shanghai.
My husband's job led us to relocate to Shanghai. Our family was very excited to extend our stay in Asia, and was drawn by the rich cultural experiences, professional opportunities, and the chance to immerse ourselves in a dynamic and rapidly growing environment. Our eldest son has been studying Mandarin for three years, so this move was a perfect opportunity to continue his language journey. We recognized this as an once-in-a-lifetime chance to explore a new way of life, enriching our family's story.

What industry is your work in? How long do you plan to stay?
My husband is in the energy industry and is deeply passionate about his role here in China. He finds immense joy in the diverse landscapes and regions he gets to explore through his job. While typical expat assignments with his company span 3-5 years, his enthusiasm hints at a desire to extend our stay beyond that. The dynamic nature of his work aligns perfectly with our family's love for adventure and discovery.

How are you settling in?

Adapting to a new culture and overcoming the language barrier presented moments of intimidation and at times slight embarrassment. It took some getting used to, but now I do not hesitate to use my translation app, it’s made life so much easier. Additionally, buying essentials without a Chinese bank account seemed impossible, but thanks to apps such as Epermarket, Sherpa, and Baopals, I found solutions. Joining relevant WeChat groups, attending Shanghai Mamas meetups and coffees, as well as involvement in my son's school activities have helped build a strong sense of community within the expat circle. The warmth and willingness of fellow expats to assist have truly made Shanghai feel like home.

How did you choose where to live and what school to attend?

Making Lujiazui our home was a balance between proximity to work, access to amenities, and the promise of a vibrant community. Lujiazui combines the energetic atmosphere of a bustling city with the warmth of a friendly neighborhood. We take pleasure that it's within walking distance of restaurants, shops, and landmarks, while also offering a quick metro or Didi ride to downtown and our son's school.

Being a former educator, I placed a high priority on finding a school that excelled in academics, provided diverse extracurricular opportunities, and fostered a supportive learning environment. I initiated virtual meetings with the admissions departments of prospective schools, considering our inability to visit Shanghai beforehand. We are delighted with our decision to attend Dulwich Pudong; our son not only looks forward to school every day but is also thriving both academically and socially.



Nationality: Croatian/German

Hobbies: running, baking
Latest Shanghai-ism: mei yo la – our son Niko heard that from our Ayi, and constantly repeats those words.


Tell us about your decision to move to Shanghai.
We are coming from Croatia, and this was our second move. In the last eight years we lived in Germany. We wanted a new experience, and during our trips to Thailand and Vietnam, we really enjoyed Asia—the yummy food, friendly folks, and great vibe. So, when the chance to move to Shanghai popped up, we accepted it. Of course, we thought about our 2.5-year-old son and how this switch might affect him. We're super excited to start this journey, making new memories and friends in a city that captures the lively spirit of the region.

What industry is your work in? How long do you plan to stay?
My husband works in IT, and I’m in the automotive industry. We are planning to stay for three years. It’s a fantastic experience that benefits both of us and gives a boost to our careers.

How are you settling in?

We're doing well settling in. At first, to communicate in a new language was hard, and figuring out all the apps that make life easier was tricky. Now, even after three months, communication is still a bit tough, but translation apps help a lot. The new challenge is dealing with the busy traffic. In the beginning, we had funny moments, like ordering pork liver by accident because we didn't understand the menu. Despite the language and traffic jams, we're finding the humor in our adventures and getting used to life in Shanghai.

How did you choose where to live and what school to attend?
Because of the city size, we choose the location based on the distance to work. We also wanted to live in the downtown area to get more of the city flair. For us it was also important that the compound is family friendly with playground for

young children. Choosing a school proved more challenging than finding an apartment. We searched for schools that were not very rigorous, where kids learn through play. We found what we were looking for at SCIS.

Any advice for newcomers?

Be open for new experience and don't judge about the things that you are not familiar with. Being open-minded allows you to make the most of your journey. Before arriving, do a bit of research to get a sense of what you can prepare for in advance. Explore the local culture, find out about popular activities, and understand basic norms. For newcomers, my advice is to connect with the community. Attend local events, join social groups, and meet people.


Photos: Yi Lounge, J Hotel Shanghai Tower