If you want old-Shanghai romance with
the convenience of downtown living, look no further
than this enticing network of tree-lined streets,
stretching from Yanan Lu (road) in the north,
Zhaojiabang Lu in the south, Huashan Lu in the
west and Xizang Nan Lu to the east.
Characterised by an intriguing mix
of low-rise, architectural styles dating from
the colonial-era, this area boasts quaint boutiques
and galleries, an endless supply of stylish bars
and restaurants, plus easy access to metro stations
and Huaihai Lu, ' the hub of Shanghai' s shopping
scene. To the south-west of the area are Xujiahui's
mega-shopping and leisure malls. All these factors
combine to make Xuhui and Luwan, the two areas
proper that make up the French Concession, an
extremely desirable, world-class lifestyle package.
All types of expats are attracted
to the former French Concession: you are just
as likely to bump into young expat parents out
for a stroll with their new baby as you are to
see an American businessman or Italian student
of Chinese language.
As land in this area is limited, residential
property consists mainly of apartments of all
shapes, sizes and rents. Rentals are some of the
highest in Shanghai and it is harder to find lower
end housing than in other areas. You can find
anything you want but it might take a bit of searching.
Highly desirable, older-style properties - both
lane houses and apartments - can be found here.
There is a small supply of luxury newly-built
villas and also of the classical colonial-era
style villas, most commonly referred to as 'Lao
Yang Fang'. There are also some pre-fab villa
clusters in the grounds of the old Xing Guo and
Ruijin Guest House and a couple of smaller villa
compounds with very expensive villas in them.
The military own most of the old villas in the
area and these are often renovated to a more local
standard so you need to be really careful about
plumbing and wiring etc. You need to do lots of
background checks before moving into old properties
or your dream home in will become a nightmare.
View as many properties as are available
within your budget because they vary enormously
in terms of style and quality of renovation. If
you are attracted to older-style apartments -
be prepared! Communal areas can be grossly unloved,
but the rewards of having Chinese neighbours will
more than compensate for this and enhance your
new experience ten-fold.
On the fringes, yet still close to
all downtown amenities, there are several popular
high-rise expat compounds offering apartments
of varying sizes with superb recreational facilities.
The quiet, leafy streets offer respite
enough from the relentless urbanism of Shanghai,
but French Concession residents have the added
benefit of never being far from a park.