Jinqiao is arguably the most popular area in Shanghai for expat families. Abundant green space, wide streets, comparatively cleaner air than the rest of Shanghai and abundant expat-oriented services contribute to its popularity, as does the presence of premium international schools and a world-class golf course. It is noticeably devoid of anything resembling Chinese culture, which for some is an attraction while for others an unfortunate side-effect of living in a community planned and designed for foreigners. It is, in a sense, a Western ethnic enclave in Shanghai, not unlike the many Chinatowns of Western cities.
Villas are the most common form of housing in Jinqiao, though there are a few apartment complexes popular with expats. Similar to Huacao, villas in Jinqiao are located exclusively inside gated communities, all of which have 24-hour security and clubhouses providing various levels of facilities such as swimming pools, health clubs and restaurants. However, while Huacao is set to develop significantly in the years to come, Jinqiao is already there, offering virtually everything within the confines of its borders. Rental prices in the area vary widely from a few thousand USD per month for a three-bedroom apartment to upwards of USD12,000 per month for a premium villa in a high-end complex.
Defining the borders of Jinqiao is best done by starting from Jinqiao Green City, the nexus at the corner of Biyun Lu and Yunshan Lu. From there a few blocks to the north, Zhangyang Lu marks the northern boundary while Longdong Avenue frames the perimeter to the south (there are a few villa compounds beyond the confines described here on Qingtong Lu, Xiangnan Lu and Tanglong Lu slightly to the south and east). Jinqiao Lu clearly marks the eastern edge of the district, however the western edge is somewhat more diffuse. Luoshan Lu is commonly assumed to be the boundary as most living west of here around Century Park itself consider themselves to be living in the Century Park area rather than Jinqiao, which is appropriate given the ‘enclave’ feel of Jinqiao is replaced by run-of-the-mill Pudong living. Where expats are concerned, seeing Century Park as a more affordable satellite town of Jinqiao is appropriate.
Kangqiao, or South Pudong, has attracted some expat residents in recent years, mostly based on a few luxury villa complexes and the British and Shanghai Community International Schools located there. The surrounding area is decidedly local and aside from the international schools offers little in the way of expat-oriented services. Not surprisingly, the villa complexes are more self-contained than most in Jinqiao proper. Additionally, while the area may seem remote when looking at a map, commutes to areas such as the French Concession are comparable with those from Jinqiao due to close freeway access.
For purposes of understanding the area as an expat neighbourhood, defining borders is not particularly helpful. Rather, identifying the area around Hunan Lu south of the Outer Ring Road and Xiuyan Lu will suffice as an outline of Kangqiao.
Not surprisingly, Jinqiao has abundant world-class expat-oriented medical services. The largest of these facilities is the Shanghai International Hospital at 525 Hongfeng Lu in the heart of Jinqiao, which offers a full range of in- and out-patient services from vaccinations to neurosurgery.
ParkwayHealth has a 24-hour medical centre at 51 Hongfeng Lu specialising in family medicine. It also offers a range of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) treatments such as acupuncture.
SinoUnited Health has facilities at No. 16, Lane 300 Hongfeng Lu, specialising in physical therapy, sports injuries and rehabilitation.
Expat residents of Kangqiao invariably make the trip to Jinqiao for health services.
Residents of Jinqiao have a range of premium international schools to choose from. Dulwich College, Yew Chung and Concordia International schools have centrally located cam- puses, while the British and Shanghai Community International Schools have campuses located in Kangqiao, about a 25-minute bus ride south of Jinqiao.
Shanghai American School has a large, impressive campus located in a gated community near Pudong International Airport. Commute times vary from 35-50 minutes by bus.
Jinqiao also has a number of dedicated preschools and nurseries offering a more affordable option to parents living in the area.
Though less common, some parents choose to send their children to schools on the Puxi side of the Huangpu River. In these cases, the commute times can be upwards of an hour each way.
The vast majority of expat residents of Kangqiao send their children to the British or Shanghai Community International Schools, though schools in Jinqiao do provide bus services providing transport to and from the area.
Depending on where you live in Jinqiao, transportation can be varied or limited. For those residing in the core area of Jinqiao near Jinqiao Green City, the area is walkable, though it might be a 10-minute walk just to get outside the walls of your compound.
Cycling is also an option and given the wider, quieter streets, one that carries with it fewer risks than for those living in downtown Shanghai.
Jinqiao is not well served by Metro, though there are nearby options. Metro Line 9’s terminus is at Yanggao Lu near Minsheng Lu, just north of Century Park, which runs directly to the Grand Gateway Xujiahui shopping area in Puxi. Metro Line 2 has a stop at the Longyang Lu Station which runs to central Lujiazui, Nanjing Dong Lu shopping area, People’s Square and Jing’an Temple. Both lines run through the Century Avenue station, where transfers can be made to Line 6 and 4.
Metro Line 7’s terminus is at Huamu Lu near Fangdian Lu, just south of Century Park, and will take you to the heart of the French Concession near the corner of Changshu Lu and Huaihai Lu.
Some compounds have bus services which take compound residents to various areas of Pudong or Puxi, and Shanghai’s native bus service has stops all over the area.
While there are transportation options in Jinqiao, most expat residents have private drivers or rely on taxis to get around. The heat of the summer, the chill of the winter and the number of rainy days mean relying on the Metro, your feet or a bicycle is not an acceptable option for most, particularly since taxis are numerous and relatively cheap.
It’s safe to say that if you are going to live in a self-contained compound in Kangqiao you will have a driver. When your driver is not available, a taxi ride will most likely be in your near future.
Shops and Services
The Carrefour at Jinqiao Green City is the focal point of commercial and retail shopping activity in the area, and also serves as the main food shopping hub. There is also a good Pines Market Place and a number of other small shops catering to expat food needs in the vicinity.
While the area isn’t brimming with fine dining options, there are a number of good restaurants, though many expats will regularly make the trip to the Bund or French Concession for the best of Shanghai’s dining scene. With regard to casual dining, Jinqiao is fully self-sufficient with all the usual suspects represented.
The nightlife scene is similar to the dining scene in that there are a number of casual pubs and sports bars, however all the major venues are in Puxi.
As there are no significant expat services in Kangqiao, residents generally travel to Jinqiao or Puxi to have their needs met.