How to Live Like a Local in Shanghai

Old Chinese man

In his book, the 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss suggests to employees everywhere that instead of waiting to seek retirement at the end of our careers and lives, that we instead take several mini-retirement vacations. This simply means temporarily relocating to a unique city of our choice and becoming accustomed to the habits of local residents of that city.

There are so many great cities in the world that are great for several mini-retirement vacations. Internationally, however, Shanghai is a great place to temporarily locate during your extended stay period.

Shanghai is one of the most fast-paced, energetic cities in a nation that is so rapidly developing that the rest of the world is continuously trying to catch up with it. In the heart of China, this captivating city is quickly catching the itineraries of travelers everywhere as tourists begin to flock to this industrial, technologically advanced city.

Always remember to study customs and cultures before ever taking a mini-retirement vacation overseas. For example, in Chinese cultures, they truly value dining as a group and believe that its time to bring everyone together. In some dining situations, do not be alarmed when you are sitting at a large table for hours sharing several different dishes of food. If you are not fluent or even beginner in Mandarin, a good place to dine is the Lotus restaurant on Chagning Lu. This restaurant has an English-speaking owner that can help you pick a dish.

Shanghai is known for its high-class, posh fashion, however, there are local shops and boutiques that are great for basic shopping needs on Tianzifang. The key to beating the tourist crowds is getting there around 9 am when the stores open. This neighborhood used to be a part of the French concession and it is jam packed with privately, locally owned restaurants and shops. In such a heavily populated city, there is always grocery and convenient stores on every street. Some local markets even offer fresh, homegrown food options.

Before temporarily relocating to Shanghai, it is also important to know that this city has more parallels to New York City than meets the eye. This city is truly the city that never sleeps. The high population in Shanghai typically works six to seven days a week and know how to party all night and run on little-to-no sleep. So before you relocate, rest up and make caffeine your best friend.

In such a busy, constant moving city, it is also important to unwind just like the locals do. Not everyone can continuously be running around without any rest or proper nutrition. Every local suggests knowing when to wind down, and also knowing that Shanghai isn’t always the best place to wind down. Locals take weekend and day trips to the nearby city of Hangzhou. This city is as elegant as it is beautiful. It is peaceful and offers so many parks and hiking trails for you to just relax and take in the beauty of this city. Hangzhou is about two hours outside of Shanghai.

Shanghai is a city that everyone needs to experience and belongs to a culture that is so very interesting to learn about. If you do decide to make Shanghai your mini-retirement home for any given period of time, make sure you do the proper research and know what to expect in Shanghai versus your home country. Also knowing or trying to learn very basic Mandarin will also be of help to you while you are temporarily relocated in this city. The “hustle and bustle” of the city is never-ending, so jump on in and visit Shanghai when you can.

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