RMB15,000 – Huaihai road

2 bedroom, 1 living-room and 1 bathroom

89 sqm, 24th floor

RMB15,000 – Huaihai road

2 bedroom, 1 living-room and 1 bathroom

89 sqm, 24th floor

RMB15,000 – Huaihai road

2 bedroom, 1 living-room and 1 bathroom

89 sqm, 24th floor

RMB15,000 – Huaihai road

2 bedroom, 1 living-room and 1 bathroom

89 sqm, 24th floor

RMB15,000 – Huaihai road

2 bedroom, 1 living-room and 1 bathroom

89 sqm, 24th floor


This is a complete guide to rent an apartment, lift apartment or garden villa in Shanghai.

How to rent an apartment in Shanghai – Index
  1. A general introduction of Shanghai and its different districts
  2. Different types of apartment you can rent in Shanghai
  3. How much is the apartment rent and what are the other expenses?
  4. Where to live in Shanghai if you care about your social life?
  5. The process involved to rent an apartment in Shanghai

A general introduction of Shanghai and its different districts

You may have already heard some terms like lane houses, French concession area and British settlement etc, which are associated with Shanghai, and you probably wonder why there are so many different types of apartment in Shanghai and how comes the concession areas. Here’s a brief history of Shanghai and hence explains the diversity in architecture in Shanghai.

Established during the Yuan dynasty(1271–1368) and Ming dynasty(1368 – 1644), Shanghai old town is only a 1.2km x 4km small area in today Shanghai’s Huangpu district. After the opium war(1839), the Qing Dynasty conceded certain territory for foreign settlement, including the French concession and International Settlement which is formed by combining the former British settlement and American settlement. Today of course the concessions do not exist anymore; but the rich history of Shanghai has shaped the city a truly attractive metropolis for you to explore. For example you may notice that the architecture style between lane house compound or historical apartment at north of Yan’an road and south of it is different. The reason is that the present Yan’an road is actually the boundary between the former French Concession and former International settlement.

Former concessions in Shanghai

Today Shanghai has 15 districts. Among them Jing’an, Xuhui, Huangpu, Changning, Putuo, Hongkou and Yangpu are considered the downtown area of Shanghai, and they are the areas where most expats stay.

Shanghai’s districts

Different types of apartment you can rent in Shanghai

Garden villa (花园洋房), is a stand-alone villa normally with a private garden space that separate it from other surrounding buildings. They are built during the 19th – 20th century by local and foreign celebrities like business tycoons or important political figures, and thus the number of garden villa is very limited, and the rent of this type of apartment is very expensive – usually RMB 100,000 above per month.

Lane house(弄堂), Lilong(里弄) or Shikumen(石库门), is the type of apartment that you the see most in the former French concession (now spread over Xuhui, Changning, Jing’an and Huangpu districts). They are terrace-style houses, where each house shares common walls with neighbours on either side, and first began to be built in the mid 1800s.

Lane house apartment in Shanghai
Lane house in Shanghai

Their uniqueness lies in the fact that they combined both Chinese and Western elements in their structure, such as a courtyard (traditionally Chinese), and decorative stone arches over front doors (Western influence). Lane houses were arranged in long rows on either side of narrow alleys, called the longtang(弄堂). Many of them were developed by international developers back in 19th century in foreign concessions, and were sold to the new immigrants flooded to Shanghai during that time.

Lane house compound Cité Bourgogne, which was developed by French businessmen during the 1930s.
Cité Bourgogne, which was developed by French businessmen during the 1930s

Although the stories and history associated with lane houses offer you the most unique experience in Shanghai, one potential problem with them are that many of them lack good maintenance over time. That’s why you will see a lot of asset management companies take a long lease with the original owner, then renovate the house to dramatically improve the living condition, and subsequently rent it out.

Renovated interior of a lane house apartment in Shanghai
Renovated interior of a lane house

Lift apartment(电梯房), is simply an apartment in a highrise building (thus lift). This type of apartment is usually developed recently or less than 20 years ago. So the overall living condition is much better. Many life apartments are in a nice and big compound with doorman and club, gym and even swimming pool. You can find many lift apartment options in the north of Jing’an – e.g. Wuding road, Xinzha road etc – or in Xujiahui area. In contrast, you have only limited options for lift apartment in the center former French concession area because most buildings in that area is protected, and thus the rent is usually more expensive.

Ambassy court - a higher-end lift apartment compound in Shanghai.
Ambassy court – a higher-end lift apartment compound in Shanghai.

How much is the apartment rent and what are the other expenses?

The rent of the apartment varies a lot depending on the location of the apartment, the size of the apartment, and the overall condition of the apartment. Generally speaking, the rent for a lane house one-bedroom apartment in the central Former French concession area ranges from 7000 RMB, the price for a compact apartment with bedroom in the loft or being part of the living-room, to 12,000 RMB, which is the price for a decent apartment with a separate bedroom, spacious living-room, and is equipped with quality furnitures and electric appliance.

If you prefer to stay in a lift apartment, the rent heavily depends on the location. For example a decent two bedroom in Joffre Garden(东方巴黎霞飞苑) would easily cost more than 25,000 RMB, whereas the same apartment in north Jing’an (like Xinzha road) would be around 16,000 RMB only. The reason for that huge difference is mostly the rareness of good lift apartment in the former French concession area.

A 2-bedroom apartment in Joffre Garden costing 25,000 RMB
A 2-bedroom apartment in Joffre Garden costing 25,000 RMB

Where to live in Shanghai if you care about your social life?

Expats in Shanghai are mostly concentrated in popular neighborhoods like Jing’an district, and the Former French Concession. Within these regions, you can expect them to live just like back home, partying and eating out with fellow expats in Shanghai for as long as they desire.

Here is a list of popular spots for bars and restaurants among expats:

  • Wuding road, close to Yanping road
  • Julu road, close to Fumin road
  • Donghu road
  • The bund

The process involved to rent an apartment in Shanghai

After approaching us, Liveplus stuff will first get to know the details of your next requirement. Some of the key questions are the location you’re looking at, the budget you set and the number of bedrooms you need.

Then we will suggest a few options based on your needs. At the same time, you can also browse our listings, with our website or Wechat miniApp, that covers the most comprehensive collection in Shanghai. Subsequently we will help you arrange the visit to the apartment if you liked any of them.

The price is usually negotiable. With our successful past experience in negotiating with the landlord, we can make sure you get the best possible price for your dream home.

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